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The Power of Voice in the Multichannel Contact Center

Once upon a time customers had only two choices when they needed to reach support - they either called or they emailed. But with today’s multichannel options, this is certainly not the case! Today’s customers reach support through phone, email, chat, video, social, self-service, and lots of mobile platform options.

According to ICMI research, almost 86% of today’s centers are multichannel. And in the past twelve months 73% of contact centers state they’ve added in at least one new channel into their support mix; with almost half saying that more are being implemented within the year.  Contact centers are offering up all these options because the connected customer is requesting them, as 74% of consumers now use three or more channels for customer service.

So it may then come as a surprise to hear that even with all of the channel options available, voice is still the predominant choice. In fact, across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel.

Bringing it back to Voice

Research shows that customers want channel choice and that there is a direct correlation between preferred channel, and a better customer experience. Essentially, if the majority of your customers want chat and that is a viable channel for you to service them through, then it should be an option. More so than ever, quality customer service means resolving customer issues quickly and efficiently, in whichever channel the customer wants to have that dialogue.

What’s interesting is what happens when any of these newer channels fail in the eyes of the customer. While customers may try other channels with their initial customer service request, they often turn to traditional voice support when their issue isn’t being resolved quickly or efficiently enough.

In 2013, Forrester Research found that 45% of consumers will abandon online transactions and switch to voice if their questions or concerns aren’t addressed quickly. And ICMI discovered almost the same behavior for social interactions, as 43% of social care users will transition to voice if their inquiry is not resolved to their expectation.

The Power of Voice

“No matter how sophisticated and prevalent your channel options, customers will still need to reach voice agents at times.” – Brad Cleveland, ICMI

The multichannel service model has fundamentally changed the role of voice in the contact center. Customers aren’t always turning to the phone because it’s instinctively their first choice. Instead, it’s almost a necessary evil in order to get the responses and information they need.

Nowadays the customer has already attempted self-service and is unable to progress forward, has a concern that is highly complex, or has unsuccessfully tried other channels for support and now needs an immediate response.

When ICMI asked end-user customers why they preferred phone service to other channels, they reported a variety of reasons – including most thorough, fastest response time, and most accurate.  What’s interesting is they don’t say they’re choosing phone because it’s the most convenient option or the one that best fits their lifestyle. Instead, it’s because voice remains the most effective way to get to the best answer.

Voice also typically creates tighter customer connections and leads to better customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Organizations need to recognize the critical role that voice still plays in the rapidly changing contact center. It’s important to choose partners and technologies that allow voice to remain as the foundation of the multichannel customer service experience, and evolve with the needs of the connected customer.

To find out more about the power of voice, including how global brands are leveraging the channel, join Orange Business Services and ICMI for a complimentary webinar on June 17th. Or download the Optimizing Voice in the Global Contact Center whitepaper.

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