Meet Your Customers In the Contact Channel They Prefer

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Contact channels other than the phone, such as email, Web self-service, chat, and so forth now account for more than 30%of customer service engagements. Even more interesting, 25% of consumers utilize one to two channels when seeking customer care and 52% of consumers utilize three or four channels. So while the call center may still be the cornerstone of your customer service channel, if you really want to provide a great customer experience you need to be where your customers are and that means becoming a multi-service contact center.


Web Self-Service

Web self-service (like customer forums and FAQs) and email dominate the multi-channel customer service option arena.  In fact, the number of consumers preferring automated self-service has doubled to 55% in the last five years.

67% of consumers use web self-service knowledge to find answers to their questions and only resort  to actually calling your contact center when they can’t find the information they need! This means that a good portion of the inbound calls are coming from frustrated customers that have more complicated sales questions or customer service issues needing to be resolved (yet another reason why agent training is so important). By ensuring your Web self-service channels like FAQs and forums are A) online and B) accurate you actually help enhance the customer experience even when your agents are taken out of the equation. In fact, by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human so ensuring your self-service channels are up to par is essential to long-term success. Make it easy for customers to find the information they need on your website before, during, and after the sales process so you can keep inbound calls down and customers happy.

Live Chat

44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer. Having live chat options built into your site can actually help lower your cart abandonment rates! Research shows that 67.44% of online shopping carts (remove link) are abandoned by users (for a multitude of reasons), live chat gives your contact center agents the chance to prevent them from discarding their purchase. For instance, if the customer is having issues with their credit card and is almost ready to abandon the sale, your agent can help them finish the purchase by entering the data directly on the back end. Or if the customer has a question about shipping times, the agent can talk to them right then and there so the customer doesn’t have to wait for an email to be answered, locking in the sale. In fact, 38% of online consumers said they had made their purchase due to a chat session.

On Black Friday I used Live Chat to help me solve an online order that wasn’t processing correctly because my PayPal account was linked to an expired credit card. I started the Live Chat option and within a minute someone from the company was typing on the other end…on Black Friday! How long would I have been waiting on hold if I called in? My issue was resolved and my order was placed. Since I was only on that site for a Black Friday deal, my Live Chat agent got my money, which I could have happily spent elsewhere. Live Chat helps keep call volume (and wait times!) down, which in turns gives your call center agents more time to better manage the voice channel and keep customers happy on all ends!

Social Media

46% of consumers have used social media to vent their frustrations about a poor service experience. Chances are you have too! Like it or not, people are much more likely to complain about bad service on social media than rave about a great experience. And one angry tweet or blog can go viral in a matter of minutes, completely destroying a company’s online reputation. Even what happens in the voice channel can be discussed on social media (just like the Comcast customer service call from hell). Are you listening to your customers and prospects on social media? More importantly, are you replying to them?

55% of consumers now  companies (missing text) to provide customer service via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Failing to respond is only going to result in a flurry of more angry tweets and posts and updates, which can only spiral farther out of control. You need an eye (or several sets) on your social channels in order to ensure that customer service issues are being managed and handled in a timely fashion.

The customer experience needs to be managed in every channel, not just the contact center, in order to ensure that your company is delivering the best possible service at all times. Are your agents trained to be effective multi-channels agents? Do you have the technology and systems in place to ensure everything is running as smoothly as possible?

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