During the short 30-minute train ride to the airport this morning, I used my phone, e-mail, SMS, Facebook, chat, and face-to-face talk for interaction. Thirty minutes; six different channels! A tech-savvy millennial would probably have used even more. Matt Sims wrote on his Teleperformance blog: “Multichannel customer service isn’t innovation; it’s simply what customers expect today.”
The customer-service industry has transitioned from single-channel to multi-channel, and now to omni-channel interaction. In contrast to multi-channel, omni-channel aims to provide a consistent experience throughout the customer journey by means of true multiple-channel integration.
Look at your own business to see how you interact with your customers; quite likely through your contact center, retail outlet, the web and maybe even some social media channels.
The pictogram shows three examples of customer journeys through the various buyer phases.
1. Research to find the right product;
2. Buy the product;
3. Use it and need support/help;
4. May come to love and recommend it (or the contrary if the product or service doesn’t live up to expectation).
According to a survey by eGain, a rapid shift in channel preference has occurred since 2012, with customers preferring chat to voice when asking simple, general questions. Furthermore, research by BoldChat reveals that in five out of eight typical online-shopping scenarios, customers also prefer chat to voice. Chat has become very popular in recent year, allowing customers to multi-task; e.g., seek support while performing other tasks at work.
Customer interaction can occur in many ways today. A primary frustration of multichannel customers is a fragmented journey. Eighty-four percent of customers want consistent service and offers across all channels: they’re looking for the omni-channel experience. Providing consistent offers, information and service across the different customer touch points becomes vital, often requiring the breaking down of old structures and systems.
As globally responsible for Teleopti’s business development, I’ve witnessed outstanding examples of how different contact centers around the world manage customer servicing across all touch points, through smartphones and other devices – wherever, whenever.
But the consumer requirement for an omni-channel experience is a challenge to workforce management. Having the right people, with the right skills, available at the right time sounds easy. However, contact centers today need to evaluate that the” right” people manage social media channels: a mistake here could negatively and significantly impact volumes in other channels. “Right“ skills are also required for specific channels, while constantly closing skill gaps to enable first-contact resolution across the customer journey. This must occur 24/7, and in a social-media environment where consumers are always connected – a situation that’s more volatile and difficult to forecast than ever.
It’s inspiring to see how best-in-class companies successfully use proven tools and methodologies in their contact centers, which are now optimizing the custom-service journey across their complete enterprises. The workforce management function is, and will continue to be, crucial for contact centers, ensuring the most valuable resource – staff – is utilized optimally.
Please use this blog (or your channel of preference!) to comment and share your experience and best practice on how to optimize the customer journey.