The I know which channels customers prefer? What

The Growth of Multi-Channel Communication in Contact Centers

 

What does customer experience really mean in 2018? Communicating with your customers on another level, their level. Whether it’s offering support through a chat-bot, providing a convenient way to pay through social media or prepping your live agents on a customer’s history before chatting with them, everything in 2018 comes down to customer experience. stat By offering that multi-channel customer experience, you can easily unify communications internally and externally to your customers. In return, you’ll be able to provide a seamless, real-time customer experience on any channel at any time.

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What is multichannel communication in the first place?

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The Age of The Consumer

 

Multi-channel communication empowers the consumer. Although implementing and running a multi-channel communication strategy is beneficial to your business if implemented correctly, we’re in an age where technology has given the power to the consumer. The biggest part of communication is motivation. If you think about it, a consumer isn’t likely to interact with your business if it’s not their method of preferred communication. According to Gartner, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a business in the digital space without interacting with a human by 2020.

 

In a contact center, a multi-channel communication solution provides a simple, but effective solution to manage communication workflows of all media types. Allow customers the flexibility to choose their preferred method of communications. If you have the mindset and the right tools, you can make sure your business is prepared to send a customer the right message at the right time, through the right channel.

 

Keeping Up with Technology Is Nothing Like Keeping Up with The Kardashians

 

Feel like it’s tough to keep up with technological trends? It is! Technology is growing at such a rate that predicting technological advancement is becoming overwhelming. Take a look at this crazy chart demonstrating Human Intuitive Perspective of Technological Advancement. To give you an idea, it’s predicted that technology in 50 years will be a quadrillion times more advanced(2).

 

If a contact center is savvy enough to keep up the growth of technology and all of its innovations, then they can easily stand out amongst their competition. As a contact center manager, you have to ask yourself, what device will a customer use when they need to contact the company? Is it a chat bot on your website, a text, an email, a quick tweet or shout out on social media, the good old phone or some other new technology we have no idea about… yet?

 

Omni-Channel vs. Multi-Channel: What’s the Difference?

 

If looking at it from afar multi-channel and omni-channel may be to be interchangeable, but if you wanted to take a deeper dive. Self-service is a critical piece of the omni-channel puzzle. Self-service eliminates redundancies, aggravation, and inefficiencies in service while simultaneously giving customers the power to communicate with you on their terms. Omni-channel (meaning, “all” channels) unifies sales and marketing to create a single commerce experience across your brand. Multi-channel (i.e., “many” channels), while less integrated, allows customers to communicate on whatever channel they prefer.

 

Revolutionizing the Customer Experience

 

All digital channels whether it’s social media, a chat bot etc. 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 can be a major risk to take in the present and future business environment. In a recent survey by Dimension Data, 87% of contact centers expect to see an increase in non-voice interactions and will heavily rely on self-serve methods. So where do you start and how will it benefit your contact center?

 

Start with Building Trust

 

Deploying multiple channels to evolve a more customer-centric service strategy, in light of the new customer purchase journey is crucial. 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.

 

Add Value Through Channels

 

The biggest challenge when starting a multi-channel communication strategy in a contact center is what channel you start with. It’s two-fold. One, you don’t want to overdo it when a customer just wants to ask a quick question. For example, a one-on-one call isn’t necessary if the customer’s question is, “When will my order arrive?” An email, chat response or quick SMS should be enough in this case. Hence, a multi-channel contact center allows businesses to choose the most effective channel to satisfy the customer, in a cost-efficient manner.

 

Customer Service on Every Level

 

Well, social media has become quite the platform for complaining. One bad customer experience and boom the entire experience is on social media and guess who is at fault: your contact center. People share their likes and dislikes with their communities on various social networks. According to the PwC total retail survey 2016, 45% of global respondents said that reading reviews, comments, and feedback influences their shopping behavior (3). Even if you’re not planning on having a complete multi-channel package, at least have social channels and be active on them. Businesses can no longer afford to ignore social media as a marketing and customer service channel. 29.3% of businesses are still without social media channels (5).

 

Digital Channels Save Money

 

The costs related to digital channels of customer service are estimated to be significantly lower than traditional call center channels. In fact, 79% can evidence cost savings; 84% an uplift in revenue/profits by committing to the opportunity created by the digital revolution (1).

If one contact center agent is able to handle multiple live chat windows simultaneously, it lowers average interaction costs and increases efficiency because now employees can multi-task. Several successful organizations are utilizing methods such as web self-service, online forums, FAQs and community solutions to garner substantial savings. By 2020, the phone will be used only as a back-up when all self-service channels fail(5). In fact, the 2017 report says that these are the current channels(4):

 

– Web chat: 44.3% to 81.1%- Mobile apps: 41.6% to 75.45%- Social media: 51.4% to 76.1%

 

Technology Trends In Contact Centers For 2018

 

Emerging technologies are creating a platform for unprecedented efficiency opportunities – both in business and customer effort, and organizations need to develop or acquire new skills to support, and stay ahead of, the re-shaped environment. The foundation of contact center technology is increasingly software-based. It needs to be agile. It needs to expand or shrink. The focus has to be on the customer journey and end-user experience, and not the infrastructure it runs on. All evidence from existing users points towards hosted/cloud technologies as providing access to emerging functionality, the speed to market, flexibility and cost modelling that’s more in line to the organization than a vendor’s rollout schedule for service upgrades that may or may not include what you need. It will increasingly become a standard consideration.

 

Artificial Intelligence

This is where Hybrid AI comes into play. A growing trend at call centers, “Hybrid AI” also known as “Agent-Assist,” allows a bot to glean information from the customer and then seamlessly escalate the issue to a live agent. Until bots are able to be as empathetic as humans, they will not be able to offer the conflict resolution which will fully satisfy customers. And, while bots excel at retrieving information and even answering frequently-asked, simple Tier 1 support questions, they may not always have the answer to complex and situation-specific queries. Implementing Hybrid AI allows bots to assist in retrieving initial information at record speed, saving agents time and effort. This allows for information to be passed on without the need for customers to repeat the issue, which is a great way to reduce customer frustration, drive higher levels of customer satisfaction and in turn increase revenue.

 

Chat Bots

 

Virtual assistant (chat bots) is voted the top channel growth focus for 2017, and IoT deployments are set to double. As chatbots and virtual assistants get more sophisticated, they will be able to respond with increasing empathy and personalization, seamlessly tracking the customer journey. Whether voice or text activated, bots will be able to help users find products and answers 24×7, on any device or channel faster than ever before. In fact, people under 55 years of age already rate messaging as a top choice for customer service.

 

Remember that a customer-centric approach utilizes all available contact channels to help build customer trust and loyalty. As of 2016, 80.9% of calls are routed via IVR systems (4), but 56% say phone volumes will drop further through end 2018 (1).

 

In conclusion, businesses need to realize that it’s time to start moving onto other channels. Phone calls are not viable anymore as the only contact option for inbound and outbound communication. In fact, Phone volumes have dropped by 17% since 2015 (1). 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.

 

Yet, the reality is that organisations around the world are failing to implement effective digital strategies. Their customer experience solutions are now becoming disjointed, and digital is not displacing traditional phone interactions at the speed desired by customers. Fewer than 10% of organisations polled, said that they had an optimised strategy for digital business in place, while over half (51%) reported they don’t have any plan at all, or are at best in the process of developing one.

 

The absence of a connected digital strategy means that even when digital solutions are available, the customer is frequently not even aware of its existence. To compound the situation, just 36% have appointed a board level executive responsible for all customer experiences. Organisational disconnects means digital solution functionality is not meeting customer requirements, with poorer than envisaged digital adoption levels.

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