A recent Gartner research predicts that the worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) will reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, a 7.6 percent increase from 2013. In the digital age, consumers are connected 24/7 through their mobile devices – surfing the net, checking and updating their social media accounts, scrolling through their mails, chatting on internet-enabled messaging apps or through SMS texts, and of course still hitting the call button. Can brands courting their attention afford to be left behind?
Take this example: an American car rental company used to send reminders via email to its customers who had made car rental reservations. However, consumers who did not check their inboxes still ended up forgetting about the date of the pick-up, resulting in an abandon rate of 30-40% in some locations. Then the company decided to follow a multi-channel approach, by sending reminders through mails, SMS and push notifications through the company’s mobile phone application. This helped in improving car pick up rates by almost 50% for the car rental provider.
There are plenty of advantages of going beyond voice support for customers. Through live chat, texts, mails, mobile applications and social media, businesses can address all the needs of their customers, be it an initial enquiry, assisting purchase, post-purchase servicing and support or complaint resolution.
The Need for Multi-Channel Customer Care Contact Center Services
A few Silicon Valley companies disconnected voice support in 2013 for reasons of efficiency and effectiveness (and perhaps cost as well). While this was considered an extreme measure by experts, since voice is still a primary communication channel, the move of these companies to online support was in keeping with Customer Relationship Management trends. Last year, Forrester projected that while voice support would still be preferred for customer service, self-service web channels and other digital channels, like chat and email, would be close behind.
Leading business organizations use both traditional (phone, postal mail) and new services (email, web, mobile, social media, and live chat) to cater to the needs of their customers in all demographics. In a research conducted in 2012 by Aberdeen Group, which surveyed 162 business leaders in North America, Europe and APAC, it was discovered that a majority of their companies were being driven to multi-channel customer care because they needed to be where their customers are.
The research concluded that businesses that introduce additional channels of communication in order to provide customers with accessibility and to engage them, would have an edge over those who look at new channels just as a means of cost reduction.
The multi-channel approach also helps companies to generate product demand, especially in the scenario of the evolving customer journey to purchase, as shown below:
With so many consumer touchpoints available through the purchase cycle, companies have realized the benefits of having contact centers which can manage customers across various communication channels and throughout the journey of their interaction with the brand, versus traditional call centers that primarily focus on single-channel customer service.
Advantages of Multi-Channel Customer Care Contact Center Services for Companies
- Actionable insights: By employing a multi-channel approach, companies can garner immense information about customer behavior and preferences and can serve them better.
- Enhanced customer interactions: With multi-channel customer support, companies can enable a touchpoint at each level of the customer’s purchase journey and address critical service issues.
- Improved ROI: Through multi-channel contact centers, marketing campaigns can have a greater reach and impact, which will result in a high Return on Investment (ROI). Enhanced customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy will also have a positive impact on ROI.
- Boost in business efficiency: Multi-channel customer care allows flexibility to the business and also helps in CRM integration. This enables companies to optimize their operational efficiency and get a competitive edge.
Benefits of Multi-Channel Customer Care Contact Center Services for Customers
- Enhanced flexibility: Customers will be able to interact with the business using a medium of their preference.
- Instant responses: Through a responsive multi-channel contact center, customers will be able to have their queries resolved in a timely manner.
- Seamless support: A multi-channel contact center gives customers the freedom to easily navigate between mediums as per their convenience. The history of their interaction is available across touchpoints, which streamlines their experience.
- Increased satisfaction: All the above-mentioned benefits will result in enhanced satisfaction with the brand and the purchase decision.
Things to Keep in Mind for Multi-Channel Customer Care and Support
- A prior survey of customers about their channel preferences will help companies while implementing new channels. Customers should be made aware about various channels used for communication, and the most preferred customer channel should be managed through best practices.
- Consumers expect the services of contact centers to be agile. Interaction often starts in one channel and ends in another, and hence, the history of the communication has to be made available across all means of support. The interactions should also convey consistent, personalized and contextual information.
- Mobile applications have served as important customer service touchpoints in recent years.
- Opportunities for outbound communication to the customer, such as workarounds, service alert, cross-selling and up-selling offers, should be taken advantage of.
- Outsourcing multi-channel customer support to a specialist company with expertise in the field can work out to be a viable option, which will save costs and time and free human resources for core competencies. While choosing an outsourcing partner, opt for one that gives regular project updates. Businesses should take time to review these chat logs, consumer emails and contact center recordings. This helps in maintaining a long-term relationship of trust with the outsourcing company.
Developing an effective multi-channel customer care strategy can help companies to create a significant service differentiator that will set them apart in the competitive market. By providing customers with convenience and information, satisfaction and retention could improve significantly. A boost in revenue could be the ultimate incentive.