Adding Non-Voice Channels to the Mix: Consider Your Customers
| Published: April 28, 2014 | Comments (9)
Calling a contact center has long been associated with queuing and long wait times, customers today don’t have that time to wait and therefore turn to other channels. Non-voice channels take up a large portion of WFO today with chat, social, mobile and email the most prominent.
Not every contact center should be engaged in all channels and the word optimization should be an indicator of this.
Optimizing is about leveraging what you are using to its maximum. Like most aspects of a business the primary factor for consideration is the customer, the customer service channels should be dictated by an organization’s customers not management. Adding the latest channel just because it’s trendy is not a good enough reason to disrupt your customer service department.
ASSESSING WHICH CUSTOMER SERVICE CHANNELS TO OFFER
There is no black or white answer to this, but as a rule of thumb a company should be as flexible as their customers are as well anticipating what may be useful to their customers in the future. A company should be prepared to try out new channels and assess whether they added value to the organization or not.
- Carry out customer service channel research and competitor analysis.
- Research your customers’ preferences.
- Ask your customers, don’t make assumptions.
- Carry out surveys, focus groups, use customer feedback.
- Trial a test run with a sample and evaluate.
Some channels are more popular with certain demographics (see below) highlighting the importance of understanding your customers again.
Preferred Communication Channel by generation: DMG Consulting Survey
UNDERSTAND INTERNAL CAPABILITIES
Estimating what will be required within the contact center to make a new channel work is key in assessing the feasibility of a new channel; training, new staff, new department, monitoring, changes in policy, etc. Extra caution needs to be considered for public facing customer service channels as mishandled interactions are instantly visible before they can be rectified.
The big questions to ask before adding non-voice channels:
- What value will your customers and your business gain?
- Is there a demand for it? Are customers already suggesting it?
- What is required to implement?
- How will I monitor this channel?
Here are advantages and disadvantages of the most popular non-voice channels as well as a sample customer who would gain value from it
QUALITY & TRANSPARENCY: INHERENT CHARACTERISTICS OF NON-VOICE CHANNELS
Most of the cons are associated with low quality customer service, which identifies that when adding non-voice channels maintaining a high quality of customer service is even more important as customers are armed with the tools to share their exact interaction online in seconds, they pose a greater threat for making a dent in a brand’s customer service reputation. There is absolute transparency in the customer service delivered. But is this such a bad thing? Being pushed to give the best customer experience possible shouldn't’t be a negative.
In summary there are always other channels you can explore and add to your customer service delivery but if it isn’t helpful for your existing customers or new ones, it will be difficult to justify. And in a world where the customer has increased bargaining power the demand for high quality is always increasing.
Workforce Management, Multichannel Contact Center
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