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Prioritize Your Customer by Prioritizing Your Service Channels

More than any other consumer touchpoint, great customer service has the power to delight. According to a recent global survey, 80% of customers say customer service is as important as a company’s product or services. The same survey reports that 82% of respondents believe customer service must continue to transform to stay competitive or risk losing its customers. With every connection to your customer service department being an opportunity to build brand loyalty, it’s easy to assume that adding more service channels or becoming omnichannel would be the perfect support strategy. The solution is a little more complicated.

Before your service team can start deploying new digital channels, it’s critical that everyone fully understands where customers engage with your business, across all channels and devices. Different companies attract a wide range of customers with a wide array of preferences. Some like to tweet from their phone, others like to email from their laptop. Choosing the right channels requires knowing which channels are best for your customer and then prioritizing.

Here’s a five-step plan to help you determine the best approach. A how-to worksheet is included below, so you can start to identify what’s missing and build a better customer experience.

Step 1: Identify where your customers currently engage with your company.

At the beginning of the process, it’s all about collecting data. Start with a solid understanding of your traffic across desktop, mobile, and social — where traffic is coming and where people are dropping off. To do this, you’ll have to gather all of your digital channel analytics, engagement, and search terms.

Diving deep into your analytics is not only looking at your traffic, but uncovering how people engage with your content. Take stock of the pages people visit the most across your website, and what type of content is frequently shared. This will give you a baseline for what resonates with your audience. On the flipside, evaluate the pages where people bounce or drop off of the most. Why are they bouncing? Look at ways you can add some type of real-time support, like live chat, to allow customers to get support when they need it but that will allow your business to slowly introduce new channels to customers, preventing a large uptick of support cases.

For engagement levels, collaborate with your social team to understand how customers are trying to reach out for help. Does your service team have any insight into these engagements? Social media provides a wealth of information about customer preferences both across platforms and within them. For example, many companies have more than one handle on Twitter, but each handle may have different levels of engagement or reasons why customers interact with that channel. Be sure you understand where your customers are asking for help versus where they just want to share information about your brand.

Step 2: Compare your customer service channels with how people engage with your brand.

Explore the analytics and determine where your traffic is coming from — and whether or not your company has the right presence in these digital spaces. Do your traffic sources match up with the channels you provide with customer service? For example, if most of your traffic is on your mobile app, can customers easily chat with a live agent for support directly in the app? If most of your traffic comes from a mobile website, do you offer a seamless way for customers to connect with you through SMS or a messaging app, like FB Messenger, WhatsApp, or WeChat?

When considering your traffic, identify the percentages coming from the following places:

  • Desktop: website, secure login portal
  • Mobile: mobile app, mobile web
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and so on

By collecting and analyzing your traffic data, you can prioritize channels based on what your customers need.

Step 3: Perform a customer service channel audit.

Now that you know where your customers are asking for help and how they’re coming to your offerings, it’s time to audit your customer service channels. Print the checklist below and go through it with your team. Then come back for Step 4.

Step 4: Prioritize your customer service channel deployments.

Now that you’ve compared the data you’ve collected, you have a clear idea of how and where your customers already interact with your company. You also know which channels and features you’re missing. Now it’s time to prioritize next steps based on your findings.

  • Start with self-service. If you don’t have a self-service portal or knowledge base, self-service is a great place to start. Across industries, 81% of all customers attempt to resolve issues themselves before reaching out to a live representative. Give customers the ability to easily find what they need on their own. It’s a good way to meet expectations while freeing up agents to work on more complex issues. Once you have your knowledge base setup and have turned on the search feature, you can look at the data to see what customers are searching for the most. It’s the kind of information that provides a solid and highly relevant foundation for the deployment of additional channels later on.
  • Compare traffic data. After you’ve set up your self-service options, the next steps largely depend on the analysis you’ve done. If you’ve found that the majority of traffic comes through your desktop website, deploy web chat first. If, however, you’ve discovered that the majority of your traffic comes from your mobile application, deploy your in-app live chat first. If you get a lot of traffic from social, connect your CRM to the social media platform with the most traffic first. Each company’s situation is different, but the information you mapped out in Step 3 will provide guidance to set priorities.

Step 5: Identify top use cases and add automation with chatbots.

Once you have your top digital channels built out, make the most of those channels by deploying chatbots to assist with customer service. To do that, you’ll need to define the top use cases across channels. Identify most frequently asked questions by seeing what questions are submitted most via chat, SMS, or messaging apps, or which FAQ pages are visited the most. You can also ask your managers to send a simple survey to your agents to understand what issues they’re most frequently solving. You’ll often find simple issues, like delivery status, password reset, or address updates, are easy to have a chatbot answer. Based on the work you’ve done in the previous steps, you’ll be able to identify which channels these top use cases are coming from most often so you’ll know where to start deploying chatbots first.

Next, you’ll determine exactly how you want your chatbot to assist with the most common issues. There are four main ways chatbots can be programmed to engage with your customers. With chatbots you can:

Greet your customers with personalized messaging

Collect information upfront to help your agents assist the customer

Automatically answer common questions by accessing existing knowledge articles

Handle the case in full without transferring to an agent by following an automated process

Determining which approach to take with chatbots depends on the nature of the frequently asked questions and the level of comfort your organization has with chatbots.

Over time, your agents will start to see how much easier their jobs become when they have help from chatbots. Once this level of comfort is established, the process to deploy chatbots and train agents to work with them smooths out. 

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When you start thinking about deploying more digital customer service channels, it’s important to remember one key thing: Your agents have a complete view of the customer on a single console, no matter what channel the customer is using.

For example, if customers most often comment on your company’s Facebook page, your social media manager may be the only one who sees their comments. And if the agent has no way of seeing this, it can lead to dissatisfying situations where customers are repeating themselves. Having a 360-degree view of the customer allows agents to have a better understanding of the customer’s history so they’re able to resolve cases more efficiently.

Once you’ve been through this channel check exercise, you’ll know with certainty where your customers are engaging with your company online. You won’t have to guess which channels you should deploy, because you’ll have data to back up your decisions. From here on out, you’ll be confident that your contact center has all the right channels.

For an even deeper dive into channel readiness and deployment, check out the Digital Customer Service Playbook, which shows you how to create a modern customer service experience, no matter where you’re starting from today.