Consumers Demand Multichannel Interactions: Six Best Practices for Deploying Agile Channeling Platforms

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The explosive growth of smartphones, texting and social media have forever changed the customer service landscape. The messaging, chat, mobile browsing, and app-based capabilities of smartphones free customers from the traditional, transactional environment and allow them to choose the communication medium of their choice - text message, interactive app, robust online self-help or community applications. Today, consumers are tired of outdated service models that require them to start over each time they come into contact with a company representative, and they expect real-time interactions with more personalized service.

Companies at the forefront of this customer experience revolution are implementing proactive, flexible systems, known as multichannel technologies or “agile channeling” solutions. Agile channeling is an integrated business process and technology approach that enables organizations to maximize the value of each customer service interaction while optimizing the cost structure for every channel and each customer segment.

These new multichannel solutions include dynamic engagement, intelligent self-service, virtual associates, and live help. They rapidly and automatically assess the value and complexity of incoming inquiries before they are handled. Plus, they enhance customer relationships and build brand loyalty by providing a flexible framework capable of following customers throughout their day and across many channels. When agile channeling is put into action, it can trim support costs by an average of 21 percent over 12 months, according to Aberdeen Research.

Best Practices in Agile Channeling

The following six best practices for deploying agile channeling programs will help organizations improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs and attain higher productivity levels:
  1. Understand your customer interaction profile. In order to deliver a world-class customer experience in a multichannel environment, you must understand:
  • How your customers prefer to interact,
  • The cost of these interactions,
  • The complexity of each customer need, and
  • The overall value of each customer.

       Insight into these essential customer details will allow you to implement a multichannel communications strategy that effectively serves each customer through the right channel mix. An integrated channel approach will create a single customer experience that can improve service, and in turn, drive brand recognition, advocates, and revenue opportunities.
  1. One size does not fit all: staff each channel with the appropriate front-line employees and skill sets. Ensure that every channel in a multichannel service environment has the right staff with the right training. Chat associates need to know how to personalize their chat sessions. Social media associates need to be aware that their posts will be online indefinitely and will be read by multiple customers or prospects. Respecting the intricacies of an individual medium drives significant improvement in the overall customer experience.
  2. Integrate information from one channel to the next. The ideal multichannel experience enables customers to interact with a company through any channel and be confident that their information and issue details will be shared with every associate who serves them. A customer issue that begins with a self-help inquiry via the web or a social community should be seamlessly shared with chat or voice associates when it is escalated to live channels. Forcing customers to re-enter their identifying information and re-explain their issues is one of the largest drivers of dissatisfaction – and unfortunately common practice. Integration must occur between back-office, customer relationship management and knowledge systems to enable a consistent customer experience across channels.
  1. Treat social media like a business program, not like a hobby. Not all channels in a multichannel strategy look alike, and it’s crucial to enable customer advocates. Social media can trigger just as many value-creating customer interactions as “traditional” channels like voice, chat and e-mail. Provide your customers with the right platforms to share their concerns and ideas. Doing so will allow customers to evangelize your brand. Properly implemented community programs can become the most cost-efficient channels that also enable brand promoters and increase Net Promoter Score®.​
  2. Apply market segmentation to your multichannel strategy. Use customer insights when deciding how inquiries are handled. Customer value scores and segmentation data should be a key part of your routing engine intelligence. This provides the opportunity to reward loyal customers and offer more targeted revenue generation opportunities. Move high-value customers to the front of each live queue, and convey that information early. “We’re expediting your request based on your exceptional account history, Mr. Jones.” Companies that clearly communicate the importance of customer loyalty reap rewards for it.​
  3. Leverage data and analytics to optimize each channel. Ensure that the business intelligence captured during the course of each interaction is collected, analyzed and acted upon. Maintaining a close watch over the performance of each channel ensures that your organization offers a seamless, high-quality customer interaction experience at every point of your multichannel interaction program. Effective analysis and feedback loops will help you balance both the customers’ and the organization’s goals in order to continuously drive performance and business outcomes.

  1. Today’s customer demands challenge the traditional balance of call center interaction technologies. Organizations that listen to customers, have the right technologies to deliver one integrated experience, and offer an empowered and educated workforce will create a superior brand experience, maximize every revenue touch point and do so in a manner that balances the cost of live help with robust self-help and community solutions.