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Does Your Multi-channel Strategy Jive With Your Customers' Expectations?

Four steps to a customer-drive multi-channel strategy

There's no shortage of tempting technology to support new channels for customer contact. But customer expectations – not technology – should drive multi-channel strategy. Do you understand their service expectations and how they are likely to change over the next five years? Ask yourself:

  • Are your customers happy with your email response time?
  • Are they satisfied with your website? Do they need or want to chat or click to call?
  • How long has it been since you reviewed your IVR?
  • Can your mobile customers interact with you while they are “on the go”?
  • Do you provide a smooth transition when customers cross channels? For example, when they need help filling out a web form, do your agents know who they are and where they are in the process?

Step One: Take Inventory

A multi-channel strategy answers these questions and many more. If you haven’t already done so, take an inventory of your current customer support environment. This inventory is larger than the contact center, so be sure to include marketing, sales, fulfillment, customer service, and other as you consider the proactive and reactive ways that customers interact with you for sales or service. Channels span face-to-face, the web, the contact center, mobile applications, social media, or others. Include the ways each channel works with the other channels as part of the inventory.

Step Two: Identify Technology

Identify the technology that enables the interactions. Don't be constrained by the systems and applications used in the contact center. Look to your foundational elements such as CRM, KM and analytics and consider how these tools integrate information or support routing decisions. Include emerging technologies – like mobile and social media tools – that may be on your roadmap and current initiatives for self-service through IVR, web, or kiosk.

Step Three: Determine a Model

As you develop your multi-channel strategy, you’ll need to determine the ownership or governance model for all the channels that are part of your inventory and the technology that enables them. In this step, you’ll identify the current ownership and establish plans for how that governance will evolve.

Step Four: Define Channel Priorities

The final step in your multi-channel strategy entails defining channel priorities. Resources are limited so a phased implementation plan will be crucial for success. Your sales and service strategies will reveal your business drivers. Do you focus on e-commerce or is your business based on more traditional brick-and-mortar? Do you provide premium service for premium products or do you focus on self-service for commodity products? Do your customers have a large presence on social media? Is your contact center a strategic tool in your tool box? Answering these questions will help set priorities.

These initial steps will start you on your path to multi-channel success.