In the past few years, you may have noticed a change in the telecom industry. Contact center has replaced call center in industry jargon when discussing the type of business you run. Why? Because the customer of today wants to experience customer service that makes them feel special, but they want to be able to do it on their own time.
Voice-based communication, whether your customer speaks directly to one of your agents, or receives a voicemail, is not always the most convenient means of contact. Your customer needs your business to be available for them at any time and through the method that they prefer to contact you.
In order to be performing at the highest level, your business must become a contact center, not just a call center, so that you can interact with customers on any channel of communication, including text, chat, email, and social media-not just voice. There are advantages to communicating with customers through each of these channels and reasons why a customer would chose one over the other.
Voice contact channels certainly have their advantages. First, it’s the traditional method of contact for the telecom industry. Customers who prefer to be contacted via voice channels like to have a conversation and want to be able to insert themselves personally. As a contact center, you will find that it is easier to sell your product or service via voice because it forces the customer to engage with your directly.
For existing customers, a call blast is a way of reaching out en masse that still feels personalized. Plus, getting to listen to voicemail allows customers to return your call at their convenience, but lets them know that you are waiting on them.
However, the customers who use the phone might also be the ones who feel that their voice is not being heard. Customers that call in for a support or service issue want to be reassured of their value to the company and want immediate help to what they deem a dire problem
Customers who use chat generally use it for support or service issues. They want immediate help for minor issues. A customer who is a little shy might prefer this to speaking to someone about a problem they might not know the terminology for. Or a customer who is busy working on other issues with their own business may not have time to speak on the phone to one of your agents.
Chat is also really great for a customer who is interacting with your business online. It’s convenient for them to just click on and engage through a chat window without having to pause their other online activities like perusing your website.
Most contact centers would use text to mean email communication, but you could also contact customers using published material. Any snail mail that is sent would count. Or, you could even send your customer informative print material like white papers detailing the functions of your product or service or a brochure with your company’s competitive advantage.
Another way to describe a “text” communication channel. Customers who prefer email tend to be a little bit phone-shy. Or, they may not perceive their interaction with your company as a pressing engagement, whether it's an email to schedule a sales call or they are emailing you about a service issue that isn’t necessarily urgent.
Email is also a great way to reach out to customers without being obtrusive. An email blast is a great way to send out a company newsletter or announcement of a sales promotion, without being pushy or in their faces about it. You can use email as a means to keep in touch with customers even when you have no pressing reason to engage with them.
Social media is definitely the newest form of communication and can include other channels like chat and text. However, social media is social (duh), which the other contact channels are not. This means that engaging with customers via social media sites can have great rewards like the viral spread of your brand imaging or a marketing campaign. Social media is also accessible to all age groups, but younger demographics tend to gravitate and create brand loyalty through their social media interactions.
However, be warned. Social media engagement is a double-edged sword. Any engagement with a customer on a social media site is public, so if that customer leaves a positive review, other potential customers will develop an affirmative association with your company.
If a customer leaves a bad review or decides to report a service issue via social media, be sure to handle it professionally and transparently. Do not just delete the comment, as it might anger the customer who posted it. Post a public response that ensures the irate customer that the issue is being taken care of and that you are sorry that their customer experience was and abnormal experience. This will still leave a positive impression of your company in the eyes of other social media users who see the interaction.
Contact Centers Win
In the future, I would love to see video become a contact channel as well. Now, we can send demo videos and engage customers with film advertisement, but it’s still one-sided. With applications like Skype for the computer and FaceTime for Apple mobile devices, it’s only a matter of time until we’ll be able to speak to contact center agents live on screen to communicate our issue and get help in real-time.
So, if you want to see the highest level of performance for your business, be sure that you run a contact center and not just a call center. A 360 degree view of customer interactions across all channels is a sure way to give your customers the best experience and improve the productivity of your business.