Freedom of choice is important. Applied to customer service, this means allowing your customers to talk to you when and how they want, on the channel of their choice. You might think that "multichannel" customer service achieves just that. ICMI recently wrote an article describing what omni-channel has that multichannel does not. A summary of that article is below:
Multichannel is a term that has been around for a while and generally implies that businesses give their customers multiple avenues into the contact center: voice and email being the most prominent ones, with web chat, social networks, and SMS typically next in line. While multichannel customer service is a great step forward, it doesn't pay tribute to how connected mobile consumers are today. With a full-fledged computer in their pockets that is constantly connected to the Internet, they have ubiquitous access to information and communications.
2 Things Should Be Considered When Thinking About Customer Care:
1. Your customers don't think in "channels"
2. They increasingly expect to communicate with you in the same ways that they communicate with friends and family: switching channels as they please and not having to "start over" in their dialogs.
In their 2014 customer service trends list, Forrester makes the point about omni-channel customer care being a practice you cannot shy away from any longer. But what does it mean? It means that channels become "mutually aware." Omni-channel could also be called "cross-channel."
A customer should be able to take a conversation started in one channel over into another one without having to repeat - ever. But it doesn't just apply to switching channels. It also needs to apply when shifting from a self-service interaction to agent-assisted live service. IVR systems often do that today within a call when transferring the customer to an agent, but not when the customer is calling again within a short time span - say when they couldn't finish a transaction, or when the call got dropped. Furthermore, self-service journeys often fail when switching from IVR to a mobile app, or from a mobile app to the contact center.
Going even further, businesses shouldn't wait for the customer contact. When they know something that is relevant for the customer to know, or when they can remind their customers about a specific business process, they should engage proactively. This is yet again a main trend identified in Forrester's report.
The distinction between self-service and agent-assisted live service will not evolve itself and neither will inbound vs. outbound service. As for the channels, they will continue to pop up - only those that know how to adapt will survive.
Want more call center industry news and articles? Check out the blog on Outsource Consultants’ website!
Outsource Consultants is a call center referral and advisory firm that helps companies find the best call center and BPO outsourcing solution. We can assist in finding solutions for inbound and outbound call centers, live web chat, cloud-based call centers, and outsourced email support services. We will save you significant time, reduce your outsourcing costs, and help minimize your risk when switching or selecting a new call center partner.