What's the True Impact of Emerging Channels?

There’s no denying that emerging channels have changed the way contact centers operate.  They’ve also changed the way customers engage with the contact center.

What is the impact of mobile, social, and advanced self-service on the customer, and how do they influence customer engagement with the contact center?  What is the impact to CSAT, loyalty, differentiation, and brand recognition?

We’ll be discussing the implications of emerging channels on Wednesday at Call Center Demo and Conference in session 504.

Sarah Stealey Reed will moderate a panel discussion with some of the best thought leaders in the industry!  Ian Hunter of USAN, Kim Martin of Voxeo, Chad McDaniel of Execs in the Know, and Jason Wolcott of Digital Roots will all be on hand to share their expertise.

We’ll take a look at the true impact emerging channels have on CSAT, loyalty, differentiation, and brand recognition.  You don’t want to miss this lively panel discussion!

If you’ll be joining us in Atlanta, be sure to attend session 504.  You’ll walk away with a better understanding of how these channels will influence your customers.  Can’t attend in Atlanta?  Be sure to follow this blog.  I’ll be posting live updates throughout the session in the comments section.  If you’re attending live, feel free to share your thoughts and takeaways here as well!

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Erica Strother — 12:27PM on Oct 23, 2013

Sarah's kicking off the discussion!

First question: How are consumers driving the adoption of emerging channels?

Erica Strother — 12:29PM on Oct 23, 2013

Chad's up first:

His answer---the consumer now has a powerful voice. We're all consumers and our needs have changed tremendously over the past few years. We all have a voice now. And service now has a voice at the C-level table.

He's asking the audience if they've done any customer journey mapping in the last 90 days to gauge how customers move from channel to channel.

Chad says it's important to understand the customer's needs in terms of channel.

Erica Strother — 12:32PM on Oct 23, 2013

Jay's going to address social.

He says contact centers must look beyond Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter and Facebook and great for branding, but we tend to use them in a reactive manner rather than proactively.

Jay suggests doing a Google search of the questions your customers frequently ask to see where they're finding the answers to these questions. This is an opportunity for your social team to get involved in the conversation and respond to issues proactively.

Erica Strother — 12:34PM on Oct 23, 2013

Ian is emphasizing the importance of consistency across channels. He suggests coming up with a best practices guide that can be applied to all channels. Start with the end in mind

Erica Strother — 12:35PM on Oct 23, 2013

Kim is talking about how the cloud has made it so much easier for contact centers to be reactive and to experiment with channels without spending a lot of money. The big investment = time, not money.

Erica Strother — 12:36PM on Oct 23, 2013

Next question: how does a unified platforom assist with multichannel adoption?

Erica Strother — 12:38PM on Oct 23, 2013

Ian says when there's true integration it's easier to train the agent, and easier to deliver a consistent customer experience.

Making an agent's life easier results in happier customers.

Erica Strother — 12:41PM on Oct 23, 2013

Sarah asks: why aren't more people doing this?

Ian: it's hard to get everyone on board--C-level, sales, service, etc.

Chad: people tend to steer away from things that are complicated/unfamiliar. Getting executive support is key, and it starts with sound strategy. Chad suggests presenting case studies that demonstrate ROI to executives.

Kim: culture plays a big part. If your company culture is customer focused, then you'll come together to serve the customer in the best way possible.

Erica Strother — 12:44PM on Oct 23, 2013

Ian just asked the audience how many people have their agents navigating between less than 5 applications. Only 2 people raised their hands.

Our agents are handling lots of applications--this not only impacts agent efficiency, but also the customer experience.

Erica Strother — 12:46PM on Oct 23, 2013

Next question: How should success be measured? How do you know when to cut or move forward?

Erica Strother — 12:49PM on Oct 23, 2013

Jay says: we get tied into the KPIs like abandonment rate, etc.

When it comes to emerging channels, we need to get more creative.

Take a look at how many people are leaving your help section on your website and how long they're staying there. Are you providing customers with the information they need, or do they have to call in to find their answers?

With social, see how many customers are coming to the official brand handle to resolve issues vs. griping among their peers on social.

Erica Strother — 12:54PM on Oct 23, 2013

Kim says you need to start by figuring out exactly what it is that isn't working before determining whether to cut or move forward.

Chad says there's a lot of trial and error involved. There's no perfect measurement for emerging channels. We're living it as it evolves, and learning it together.

Ian says success can't be measured the same way across the board. It depends on the goals of your organization. Don't just look at one set of data points. Look at the big picture.

Kim says what works for one channel may not work for another. Every channel has different needs. Ex: use location based services for mobile so users don't have to enter their address while driving.

Erica Strother — 1:00PM on Oct 23, 2013

Next question: How does transitioning a customer from one channel to another help engagement?

Erica Strother — 1:05PM on Oct 23, 2013

Ian: Make sure your customers don't feel like you're pushing them from one channel to another. Features like click to call make it easier to bridge the gap, and make the customer feel like they're making the decision to transition channels rather than being pushed.

Sharing data across channels makes this experience better! Don't make customers repeat information they've already given in another channel.

Kim says to demonstrate the value of the channel to the customer. Educate them on how they can best use each channel. Ex: when customers call in, let them know they can also find the info on a mobile app, knowledge base, etc.

But Sarah asks if this is a bad customer experience?

There's a fine line.

Kim suggest perhaps asking the customer if you can text them a link that will help. This is offering another channel, but not pushing them away.

Jay says you must give customers options, but be careful about the hand off.

Ex: if a customer tweets you and you ask them to email, you're not handling their request in their channel of preference. Find ways to take care of customers in their channel of choice.

Erica Strother — 1:07PM on Oct 23, 2013

Chad emphasizes again how important it is to have a strategy in place. Companies that are successful with emerging channels have a strategy

Erica Strother — 1:10PM on Oct 23, 2013

Next question: Self-service is said to now be "the first agent". What does this mean for customer engagement?

Erica Strother — 1:16PM on Oct 23, 2013

Sarah says self-service should not be just a gateway; it should serve as the face of your company.

Ex: Sarah gets a video bill via email each month from her power company.

Kim says you're going to see these innovative processes being implemented in industries such as utilities and healthcare.

Chad asks if we all agree on the definition of self-service.

Self-service= mobile, SMS text, advanced IVR, etc. Our customers want these channels, but we're not providing them.

Erica Strother — 1:19PM on Oct 23, 2013

Sarah uses the example of Uber as great self-service.

You use the app to find a taxi, enter in your info, pick up time, and credit card info.

You then get a picture of your driver and the cab so you know who to look for.

After your ride you receive a survey.

Erica Strother — 1:30PM on Oct 23, 2013

Ian says that having predictive software that tells you why your customer is calling empowers organizations to personalize service and be more efficient.

Kim says screen pops aren't just a voice thing. That same data can come from chat interactions, web interactions, any channel.

Closing remark from: think about the last billboard you saw. You probably don't remember. Think about the last time one of your friends recommended a product on Facebook. Chances are you remember that.