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2017 Trend to Watch: The Shifting Mix of Service Channels

Key take-away: Evaluate shifting mix of service channels specific to your customer base

In 2017, customer interactions are expected to increase in all channels, however the percent mix between channels will continue to shift and become more diverse across industries and across audience segments.

Specifically, self-service, chat, SMS/text and video will all rise in the overall percent of total interactions. Much of this will be driven by companies increasing and improving their use of these channels, and by companies responding to the growing purchasing power of millennials and digital natives who prefer these channels.

Omnichannel Customer Service

Service provided by social media will continue to increase and has the potential to increase more rapidly in 2017 with chat or service bots, but will only become mainstream once clear use cases are identified and there have been some early adopter successes. Initially, we expect these service bots to address the same routine inquiries and transactions available on website or IVR self-service today – except extended to the full range of digital channels, such as chat, text, social, email, and mobile apps.  

To be successful in managing the proliferation of customer service channels, take the following steps to prioritize and optimize the mix of service channels that are right for your customers and your company:

1.    Measure and evaluate the channel mix specific to your company. Most companies today are supporting an average of 9 channels . Which channels are growing at your company at a faster rate than others? How is the mix of channels changing overall and what impact has that had on your operations in terms of efficiency and effectiveness? Use this understanding to prioritize improvements in existing channels and your plans to add new channels.

2.    Work with sales and marketing to better understand your company’s current and future target segments by age group. Ask which customer groups are increasing in importance and which might be becoming less important over time. Leverage customer and buyer personas to understand potential new service channels and/or how to improve the services you currently offer through different channels.

3.    Expand customer journey mapping to identify use cases for new channels and find omnichannel or cross-channel opportunities to improve the overall customer experience. Look for ways to improve voice channels with integrated voice self-service options.

4.    Think personalized and proactive for every channel you support. Evaluate current and desired capabilities to improve each channel or to connect channels to improve the customer experience by offering greater personalization and by proactively reaching out to customers at the moment of need.

5.    Look at CSAT data by channel or survey your customers to identify channel preferences and possible performance issues. Customers want a consistent experience across all channels, but the rate of satisfaction may vary because of perceived convenience, speed of resolution, emotional impact (positive or negative).

6.    Use speech and text analytics across channels to pinpoint the improvement opportunities that happen most often or have the largest impact. Advanced speech and text analysis can interpret every interaction to reveal patterns and detect customer sentiment.

7.    Improve agent performance across channels with Workforce Optimization to ensure that all contact channels are adequately staffed to meet service goals and that agents are performing satisfactorily. Prepare for additional channels or expansions using long-term planning tools.

8.    Identify pilot programs or online research opportunities before committing to expensive or unproven new channels such as video or chat bots or online extensive knowledge bases. If your company serves both B2C and B2B customers, look at ways to experiment with proven B2C channels for your B2B customers.

  • “Average of 9 channels supported by most contact centers by 2017.” Dimension Data: 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Summary Report