Convenience is a key consideration for customers when they choose who to do business with. Customers want to have options to access a business to make a purchase, research for information, address a billing issue, or file a complaint. It has become a necessity for businesses to offer multi-channel support. However, a sound multi-channel strategy must provide succinct and coherent customer experience.
To meet customer expectations, there are three operational challenges that businesses need to address.
- Access to data
Integration of various applications where customer, product, inventory, and billing data reside poses a major challenge. Does the customer relationship management (CRM) application, the enterprise resource management (ERP) application, or the business process management (BPM) application has the most up-to-date information? The agent needs to pull relevant data instantaneously. How would the required information be served? At the end of the customer interaction, the agent needs to log it for future reference. Technology aside, taking a customer-centric approach in identifying what information is required for different customer needs is crucial. Otherwise, the agent would not be able to provide a timely response.
- Fluidity of channel staff
Each channel serves as a conduit between the customer and the business. Despite the differences in the interaction, all channels share a common goal in providing timely and complete responses. In addition to the core skills on customer service, channel staff need to understand the customer’s mindset in using a particular channel. Not everyone is keen about self-help. What is important to note is the dos and don’ts for each channel. Sound management of the channels requires identifying the specifics for an ideal customer experience and tailor the tactics accordingly. When floating staff across channels, they need to be aware of the differences.
- Harmonized processes
Customers like expedient responses. They could transfer from one channel to another on their own when service received from one channel is not satisfactory. They could be transferred by the channel agent due to the complexity of their needs. The most frustrating experience for a customer is having to repeat the same information that has already been provided. Seamless transfers require well-coordinated information sharing and handoff processes. From the customer’s perspective, she would not expect to do more work when switching from one channel to the next. For the business, it is a matter of ensuring that processes are coherent.
Excellent customer experience through a multi-channel strategy is built with the customer’s lens on. Adhoc addition of resources in a piecemeal fashion is haphazard when the key success factors for a channel are not understood. Each channel needs to be planned as part of the overall business operations.