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Understand Your Customer Expectations By Channel

In the digital era, there are an ever expanding number of technologies which allow companies to interact with their customers in various ways. Each of these channels comes with its own nuances and sets of pros and cons. Because of these differences, each of these channels must be handled appropriately, in order to successfully meet expectations and achieve customer satisfaction. In addition to the continuing volume of phone calls, the most typical avenues for customer interaction now include chat, email, and social media.

PHONE – With voice channel interactions, customers obviously expect a response to be delivered immediately. Typically, customers have little patience for continued hold time after reaching an agent. Their expectation is that the IVR should have driven them to the correct department; therefore, the company representative that they are speaking to should already be knowledgeable about the type of issue and reason for their call. Phone representatives are expected by the caller (and the company) to achieve first call resolution. Because of the direct and personal mode of communication, callers want empathy and sincerity from the person on the other end of the line, not an impersonal robot.

CHAT – With chat customer service, there is reasonable leniency placed on speed of response for typing and--because chat is more impersonal--empathy can normally be achieved through common conversational niceties like please and thank you. Most likely customers are using the chat channel to obtain answers to questions (about products or services, for example) and are expecting information or links to resources to solve an issue on their own. In cases where the customer is looking for more than a basic answer to a question, the expectation is that a road to resolution has begun at the conclusion of the interaction.

EMAIL – This channel has the most wiggle room but, generally speaking, customers expect a response within a 24-hour time frame. In exchange for that extra time, customers expect complete and total knowledge and resolution of their problem or concern. They also expect the responder to have clearly read, understood, and acknowledged the finer details of their particular issue. There should be an issue resolution or action taken prior to the response, and an offer to continue the conversation if the customer is not fully satisfied by the depth of the response.

SOCIAL – Customer expectations of response times on social are nearly as unforgiving as on the phone or chat. Your company’s Facebook and Twitter are open 24 hours a day, and your customers are browsing during all of those 24 hours. There is little, if not zero, patience for canned responses so social customer service agents must deliver a personalized experience with empathy and understanding. Because customers are contacting the company directly, the expectation is that they should have all resources and knowledge available at their disposal. At a minimum, the contact should end with the path to resolution being initiated and clearly communicated.

With all of these options available to your customers, it is important to make sure that you are responding to them appropriately, and meeting their expectations based on their choice of channel. Not all channels are great options for every company, so make sure you have the right blend of options, and that you are able to service each of them at a high level.