In order for businesses to stand out from the competition and capture the market share, enhanced customer experience is paramount. Businesses need to adopt a more holistic approach to customer service needs. One of the most important aspects of high quality customer service includes optimizing multichannel customer support offered by a company.
Customers’ needs and expectations have changed drastically with the evolution of technology. Customers demand a greater degree of accessibility, which is a cue for companies to adopt a multichannel customer service model. A study conducted by ‘Econsultancy’ revealed that 83% of online shoppers need assistance during purchase. The same study showed that 61% of customers want to talk to CSRs on the phone, 60% prefer email and 57% prefer live chat. This shows that companies are presented with a challenge to address the needs of various segments of customers and the only plausible solution is multichannel support model.
Customers today are in a powerful position, due to increased competition and multiple options. This means that customers will only stick with a particular company if their unique demands are met, and their convenience is ensured. At the same time, customers are also more collaborative, which means that they want to be a part of the process. Customer service teams are often required not only to provide the services, but provide them according to customers’ wishes.
Additionally, technological innovation has enabled consumers to interact with business from their phones, tablets and other portable devices. Greater access has also added to the level of interactions customers demand from the company, which essentially means that companies need to keep up with the customers in terms of their communication and interactional needs.
While convenience is a benefit for customers, businesses can also profit immensely from a multichannel support strategy.
Multichannel support offers premium customer service experience. Customers have multiple options to interact with the CSRs, all of which are well-integrated and offer a seamless channel for communication. All the relevant information is synced across all channels, which is powered by a consumer information system. The synchronization and real-time up gradation ensures greater accessibility, convenience and value addition to the overall customer experience. A seamless customer experience will enable, for instance, a customer to return goods bought online to local store without any hassle and haggling, which will be possible as the records are synced and readily available. Better experiences result in repeat customers and increase in brand loyalty.
Let us take the example of a UK fashion store Oasis which enables customers to order and buy products online through IPads while they are in the store. This means customers can try on clothes while they are in the store and then place the order online and have it delivered at their home instead of waiting in queue at the store.
Cross channel customer service will also enable companies to save on costs and reduce burden on conventional communication channels. For example, a company might have to hire fewer phone operators, as live chat service becomes available, which will effectively divert traffic. Some of the these communication channels are relatively cheaper to operate, which means that companies can reduce costs and develop an optimum mix of channels to serve the needs of the customers.
Multichannel customer service model promises enhanced efficiency. As the company and the customers have multiple channels of communication to choose from, it enables them to choose the channel appropriately, given the situation. For example, highly technical information may be communicated in writing through email or chat rather than voice call or in person. Multichannel communication also offers increased internal communication, since the information is synced and readily available for all customer service representatives. For example, CSRs will be able to deal with a customer who had previously talked on the phone, but shows up at the local store, because the previous correspondence is on record and accessible to the CSR.
Companies need to develop an understanding of how a synchronized operating model works, which will provide a more holistic view of the company.
The first step towards delivering great customer support across multiple channels is to have an integrated setup. For example, many customers might use social media to contact a company at some point and then use a different medium to get in touch for more information or the actual purchase. Companies must find a way to enable customers to use the communication medium of their choice at every stage of the transaction without any hiccups. These steps will help improve multichannel customer service.
Businesses need to deliver customer services effectively and in a consistent manner across all touch points. All communication channels must be aligned and present a single face to the customers, hence, enabling a consistent way of conducting transactions. Companies should aim for an optimized, seamless and personalized customer experience.
All customer service staff should be trained to efficiently and proactively interact with the customers across various channels. Equip your customers with the essential product knowledge, communication skills and train them to make the best of all communication channels for customer support and satisfaction.
Multichannel customer support offers multiple options for customers to communicate and get in touch with a business. Developing the right infrastructure is necessary and requires a customer information system and streamlined communication between customers and customer service representatives.
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