Magazine article CRM Magazine

Cost-Effective Ways to Deliver Multichannel Customer Experiences

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Cost-Effective Ways to Deliver Multichannel Customer Experiences

Article excerpt

As customer interaction channels continue to multiply with the explosive growth of new communication channels like social networks and smart phones, multichannel customer service is no longer a "nice to have." So, how can companies provide multichannel customer service experiences that are cost-effective, yet unified and compelling? Based on our experience with successful implementations in blue-chip companies worldwide, we recommend the following five steps for success.

1. IDENTIFY CHANNEL PREFERENCES BY LIFECYCLE

A well-informed business is a thriving business. With simple analytic tools, as well as primary and secondary research, you can determine how your customers want to interact with you based on where they are in their research-buy-use-service lifecycle. This insight allows you to deliver service through the right interaction channels, while avoiding those that do not make business sense. For instance, if your target customers prefer to use web self-service for most customer service needs, it would not make sense to focus on phone interactions, which also tend to be more expensive.

2. USE A ROBUST FRAMEWORK FOR "RIGHT-CHANNELING"

"Right-channeling" is a cost-effective approach to multichannel customer service. It relies on factors like customer preferences, economic value to the business, the research-buy-use-service lifecycle stage, nature of the question, and emotional state for channel and service decisions. Right-channeling ensures the delivery of just the right service levels through the right channel at the right time, while curbing costs.

For example, a business might choose to offer cobrowsing help to high-value customers, when they are filling out a form or shopping online. Social customers with high influence might be offered an immediate one-on-one web chat with an agent. On the other hand, customers with common queries might be prompted to use self-service with the option of escalating to agent-assisted service. The key to delivering seamless cross-channel experiences is the integration of content and context across all communication channels traditional, social, and mobile using a "hub" approach, explained in Step 3.

3. TAKE A HUB APPROACH

While businesses are starting to break down customer service silos, the state of multichannel service leaves much to be desired. In fact, leading North American companies posted their worst performance in multichannel customer service, compared with any other aspect of service, according to an eGain mystery-shopping research study conducted in 2010.

Context retention and service consistency are key challenges in multichannel customer service. …

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