In today’s world, new communications channels are being continuously introduced. Customers quickly adopt all these new channels and want to use them to contact the companies with whom they do business. But this proliferation of channels makes it difficult for companies to provide effective, cost-efficient customer care. In their struggle to find the right way to handle new digital channels, many companies take a siloed approach, such as setting up a separate group to manage social customer service. But, these companies that treat digital channels as independent interaction points have no way to understand the full customer journey or to meet their customer’s needs with outstanding, efficient, consistent service across channels.
Taking a holistic approach to digital customer service and integrating it into the customer service strategy allows companies to take advantage of these new channels to transform the company/customer relationship in ways that profit both.
The Rise of the Mobile, Social, and Web Relationship
From Twitter and Facebook to YouTube, Web chat, and smartphone apps, the ways consumers communicate with each other have skyrocketed in the past few years. As the new channels keep coming, consumers also want to use them to interact with their favorite companies and brands.
Many enterprises have started to respond to these new interactions, often throwing resources at each new channel as it arises. Marketing departments that own and operate an enterprise’s Web experience have begun to expand their reach into the social realm. Customer service departments have begun to respond to emails generated from their company’s website. Newly formed teams that focus on the mobile experience have developed customer-focused smartphone apps. While all of these individual efforts are designed to provide solid customer experiences, they fall short of that goal because each lives in its own silo.
These silos fragment the customer experience. With no connections between channels, customers cannot escalate from channel to channel. Given the multichannel nature of the modern consumer experience, this inability to switch channels frustrates customers. Even when companies do allow for jumping from one channel to another, they rarely have any mechanism in place to pass information or context from one channel to the next.
When each channel has its own silo, it’s also impossible to provide exceptional customer service. Agents have to hunt through multiple tools to try and find the customer’s history. Because management and reporting are also done in silos, companies don’t get a solid ROI for the money they spend on digital channels. Siloed reporting also makes it difficult for management to get insight into the overall customer experience, understand issues, and have the agility and knowledge to solve them.
It’s hard to do business with a company that provides an inconsistent experience that makes customers repeat information whenever they enter a new channel, and that frustrates them. It’s a sad fact – the harder it is to do business with a company, the less likely a customer will remain loyal. Siloed channels drive customers away.
Voice Remains an Island
Despite the rapid uptake of digital channels, traditional voice remains a valuable way to connect with customers. There are times when a call with a live agent provides a more satisfying experience for the customer and a more valuable interaction for the company.
These are the times when the direct human touch can make the difference between a happy customer and an unhappy one. For example, there are complex problems that are more easily and quickly solved with real-time interactions where voice increases confidence that an iterative process will lead to a resolution. Also, sometimes customers want a commitment from a company – they would rather hear that commitment verbally to better assess its validity.
Unfortunately, the voice channel often sits in its own silo, making it impossible to move interactions from digital channels to voice. This also makes it impossible to provide proactive human assistance for digital customers. Too often, it means that customers must end their digital interaction, pick up a phone, and call into the call center where the agent has no knowledge of what they were doing on the digital channel. The already frustrated customer must repeat their problem and their attempts to solve it. This disconnect between the digital realm and the voice world, and the inability to proactively provide the human touch when customers need it, results in lost customers.
The Human Touch
While automation such as Web-based knowledge bases can trim costs from customer service, it also removes opportunities where a human connection can make a difference.
A customer can find the details on a complex product in a knowledge base article. But if an agent was involved in the interaction, they might have discovered that the customer was actually a prospective customer and could have closed a sale on the spot. Companies miss many such opportunities by not being able to connect self-service customers who need more help to the right employee quickly and conveniently, on the channel of the customer’s choice.
The Power of One: Digital Customer Service
Solving these issues requires rethinking the approach to using digital channels for customer service. Providing outstanding customer experiences to drive new revenues, cut costs, and create customer advocates means harnessing the power of all these new channels. It also means seeing customer interactions as customers see them, as a single dialogue between one customer and one organization. This is the “Power of One.”
When customers receive different answers from different employees of the same company or experience different types of service on two different channels, this creates customer frustration. With a cohesive approach to digital customer service, customers receive the same, consistent experience from all employees and across all channels.
Today’s customers are sophisticated enough to use the channel they feel is most appropriate at the moment and switch to another channel when it becomes more convenient. That jump across channels typically erases all contexts – there is no ability to see what just happened on another channel. Building contextual intelligence into a digital customer service solution allows a business to hold one seamless conversation with a customer across all channels.
The ability to tailor service — and have more profitable interactions — means having all relevant information about a customer, including what they have been doing across multiple channels.
For example, if an airline could see that a traveler who had flown 120,000 miles with them this year had searched for international flights on his mobile app yesterday, it could make an intelligent decision about which agent should respond to his Web chat today and what offers they should make to this valuable customer. This is exactly what a holistic digital customer service solution should provide.
Last, but not least, understanding the best ways to interact with customers on digital channels can provide great experiences most of the time. But for those instances where a human touch can make the difference, digital customer service needs to be able to feed into an intelligent voice routing system.
A flexible and holistic digital customer service solution tangibly impacts customer experience and top and bottom line numbers. It can improve the customer experience and drive increased customer satisfaction. Providing the customer with the appropriate service on the channel of their choice significantly reduces their effort and creates a useful customer experience. To create the perfect setting for a highly satisfied customer, a company should know who the customer is, know what they have done on other channels and in other interactions, and understanding what they want to do. Because this solution understands a customer’s behaviors on multiple channels, and integrates that with the full customer history, it can identify moments of truth.
These are moments when a customer is likely to defect to the competition or is primed to purchase a product or service.
When escalations from personalized self-service channels are required, a savvy solution provides the full customer context so that the interaction is resolved quickly and effectively. This keeps costs down, while allowing customers to tap into higher cost service channels when a human touch will make the difference.