Smart Customer Care in a Multichannel World

June 01, 2015

By Guillaume Seynhaeve

As technology and consumer preferences continue to evolve, the importance of maintaining a smart customer service strategy has largely remained the same. Point in case, companies listed on the S&P 500 grew approximately 55% over the previous seven years compared to 77% for those companies focused on the customer experience. Those who lagged had a negative yield of 2.5% over the same period. But as new and existing channels continue to expand and alter the communication landscape, the challenge of maintaining a smart customer care strategy in today’s multichannel world implies a need to evolve traditional business practices as well.

START WITH A MULTICHANNEL UNIFIED STRATEGY

Seventy-six percent of today’s organizations state that they lack a single view of the customer. And as traditional communication channels (phone) increasingly give way to new ones (email, social media, text, etc.) the difficulty of maintaining a unified view of the customer and all related interactions will only increase if a comprehensive strategy fails to already exist. As a result, the importance of providing and maintaining an updated multichannel platform and initiative will be a key driving force and potential competitive differentiator for many businesses concerned with staying relevant and reachable moving forward. And yet, if one were to accept a company’s contact center as the most representative aspect of its communication initiatives, the role of multichannel is clearly inconsistent across organizations. In fact, per a recent survey by Call Center IQ, Executive Report on the Future of the Contact Center, many businesses still struggle with determining the most appropriate department to which to assign their contact center with 47% falling under Customer Service, 26% under Operations, 12% under C-Level business units, 10% under Marketing, and the remaining 5% under IT. Long story short, a smart multichannel customer service strategy starts with a unified and company-wide understanding of what that strategy is and who owns it.

UNIFY YOUR BUSINESS

Of course, a “smart” multichannel customer service strategy is of very little use if client-facing representatives lack access to the data and information needed to address client needs. And yet, today’s organizations commonly silo departments and divisions with very little sharing taking place between them despite the inherent benefits of unifying customer data and records to facilitate interactions as they occur. In addition, as SaaS solutions continue to gain traction within specific verticals and markets (marketing, support, sales, billing, etc.) the tendency to accumulate multiple best-of-breed solutions acting independently of one another is increasing. In fact, enterprises averaged 9.6 different software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications at the end of 2014, underscoring the ease with which any business can complicate the customer experience by virtue of managing too many disparate systems. As a result, the success of any multichannel platform and customer service initiative is contingent on the unification of the numerous data-points and applications a company is subject to and uses (CRM, WFM, WFO, Ticketing, Billing, etc.) to allow for a complete 360-degree view of the customer in question. Without it, a business has the platform but lacks the information to make effective use of it.

MAKE YOUR TEAM SUCCESSFUL

The success of any strategy will always be subject to the individuals executing it. And assuming a business already follows an integrated multichannel strategy, the remaining piece of the puzzle lies in the training and consistent oversight of the reps (both sales and support) representing the brand on a daily basis. In fact, 41% of employees will leave an organization with poor training scores. But more importantly, while the rise in self-service and digital technology implies a diminishing need for live agents, 80% of all customer interactions still rely on their being a human component or relationship. As a result, while a smart and multichannel customer care initiative would suggest the need for a greater focus on technology, the true opportunity for competitive differentiation lies in the reps manning the frontlines. And while technology can facilitate smart and impactful interactions, any success is heavily contingent on the agents being equally qualified and trained to meet the expectations of the underlying consumers in question.

With customer experience expected to become the dominant competitive differentiator by 2020, smart customer care has never been more crucial to the underlying success of any business. However, as consumers increasingly diversify their communication channel preferences in today’s multichannel environment, the ensuing challenge of meeting their needs and expectations will only serve to distinguish those who came prepared and those who failed to keep up in a “winner-take-all” battle for the end customer. The question – which one are you?

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