A new dilemma is hitting businesses everywhere. Customers want quick resolution via live chat, phone, email, IVR, SMS, social media and other formats. Customer-dependent businesses can no longer ensure customer satisfaction through a single customer service channel. This is a critical issue, because unhappy customers quickly become vocal on online social networks. The quicker business CIOs decide to adopt a multi-channel contact strategy, the better they will fare.
The following points illustrate why it is imperative for today’s forward-looking businesses to incorporate multi-channel contact centers.
Benefits of Adopting a Multi-Channel Contact Center
1. Multi-channel customer service increases customer satisfaction:
According to McKinsey’s ‘Digitizing Customer Care Report’, around 74% of respondents who had journeys incorporating different mixes of traditional and digital channels reported a satisfaction rate of 60-65%, which was higher than that of those using only traditional channels. Digital channels such as social media, live chat, and web conferencing have revolutionized the way customers communicate and search for information. While voice support and email continue to contribute value to the customer and the business, ignoring digital channels is a major risk to take in the present and future business environment.
2. Multi-channel customer assistance helps build customer relationships:
New customers are usually apprehensive when they make their first purchase on a business website. Businesses need to deploy multiple channels to evolve a more customer-centric service strategy, in light of the new customer purchase journey, in order to:
- Assist online users in their browsing and research
- Quickly update customers on order status, cross-sells and upsells through targeted emails and mobile texts
- Resolve issues quickly through voice support in the case of payment failure or order processing technical glitches
- Follow up with customers who abandon their carts and convince them to complete the purchase
- Ensure repeat business and customer loyalty through a mix of all channels
Additionally, modern contact center technology applications facilitate a more collaborative and integrated approach to customer satisfaction, with customer interactions getting collated across contact channels to be presented as a single view. In this way, a customer does not have to explain their issue from the beginning on each contact format, and this itself increases their satisfaction with the brand.
3. Multi-channel contact options add to the value of the product or service:
One of the main challenges businesses face is which channel to implement and deploy for specific scenarios. For example, a one-on-one call will be an overkill when all a customer wants to know is if a product is in stock or not. An email or quick SMS should suffice here. Hence, a multi-channel contact center enables businesses to choose the most effective channel to satisfy the customer, in a cost-efficient manner.
4. Multi-channel contact centers make it more feasible to provide international support:
For businesses that are spread across geographies, having more than one customer contact channel can greatly reduce business overheads. Even with Voice Over IP (VOIP), local accents and multiple timezones reduce the effectiveness of international phone calls. Web chat and personal emails can provide the much-needed human contact across geographies and ensure consistency of brand communication and better customer satisfaction.
5. Taking customer service to the customers via social media channels:
People share their likes and dislikes with their communities on various social networks, thereby influencing purchase decisions and customer loyalty. Businesses can no longer afford to ignore social media as a marketing and customer service channel. Through social media channels, businesses are able to:
- Respond quickly to customers’ tweets
- Monitor and respond to Facebook chatter
- Provide chat option on the company’s Facebook page
- Allow contact via prominent social networks
6. To leverage cost-efficient digital channels:
The costs related to digital channels of customer service are estimated to be significantly lower than traditional call center channels. If one contact center agent is able to handle multiple live chat windows simultaneously, it lowers average interaction costs and increases efficiency by allowing employees to multi-task. According to ‘Live Chat: The Gift That Keeps on Giving’ by the Aberdeen Group, the agent utilization rates of businesses that are live chat users are 28.4%, compared to businesses that are non-users (3.1%). Several successful organizations are utilizing methods such as web self-service, online forums, FAQs and community solutions to garner substantial savings.
7. To provide a human touch for modern online marketplaces:
For enterprises that act as aggregator services, such as eCommerce marketplaces, taxi rental companies, travel companies and others, a multi-channel contact center provides the human touch to a business model that is primarily technology-based. An article on firstround.com/review, talks about Homejoy following up poor experiences with phone calls and discounts, and a ride-share company immediately contacting the passenger through phone support to get feedback after a poor driver rating. This customer-centric approach that utilizes all available contact channels helps online businesses to build trust and loyalty.
In conclusion, businesses need to realize that today’s customer is on the move and on multiple devices. Phone calls are not viable anymore as the only contact option for inbound and outbound communication. It is therefore imperative for enterprises that want to gain a distinct differentiating advantage to evolve from legacy-based call centers to IP-based multichannel contact centers that offer unified customer service across channels.
 The Aberdeen Report ‘Live Chat: The Gift That Keeps on Giving’ can be downloaded here