Common Expectations, Misconceptions and Strategies for Multi-Channel CX

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’ve already realized—or at least started to suspect— that there is more to a multi-channel customer experience than just configuring some software and updating your website.

While listening to our customers, there is no doubt that multi-channel customer experience needs to be embraced. It’s equally important to understand that we must approach it with caution, as failing to do so could disappoint our customers. While a multi-channel customer experience can help meet customers’ desires for easy access, one of the easiest ways to frustrate our customers is to force them to repeat themselves.

When we’re launching new channels in the contact center, ensure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. If I’ve told my life story this morning on the phone, then I am going to be very disappointed when I web chat later and am asked for the same information again.

Before you launch a new channel, answer this question honestly: Are you delivering consistent service on the channels that you’re already managing? If you give your team leaders a scenario and ask them each to call the contact center at different times, go through the same role-play, and then compare their scorecards, are they in the same ballpark?

Misconceptions of a Multi-Channel Customer Experience

In theory, the multi-channel customer experience is merely supporting more than one customer communication channel, but it’s very different from just publishing an additional 800-number and having the calls arrive at your existing inbound team. Some of these differences include:

  • Different customer profiles that will tend to prefer the use of different channels, but none of them want poor service. Treat each channel with the same expectations of service quality.
  • You must ensure that adding the new channels to your contact center results in a net benefit, and that existing channels do not suffer due to the addition of new channels—strained resources, increased volumes in existing channels caused by disappointment in the new ones.
  • Potential to mislead customer expectations in terms of what service is or is not available on the new channels. It’s not good if you offer web chat and then end up responding to customers that they should probably just call. Typically, transactions handled via web chat are different from those tackled over the phone. If the web chat is there for a limited function, this should be clear before customers start the interaction.
  • You must monitor customer behavior across different channels to assess their complete customer journey. Most customers use more than one channel, sometimes in parallel. This shouldn’t necessarily negatively affect your FCR scores. You could define success in terms of each interaction’s ability to successfully deliver its part, combined with the customer’s overall ability to easily achieve what they set out to achieve.
  • Effective or poor management of your social media presence can have a massive impact on your brand image. This is still very much a new customer channel with many creative ways of making it work for you, but let’s not forget the science—customers who ask questions want useful answers in a timely fashion. Only approach social media if you’re going to take it seriously and are confident you’ll get it right.

5 Reasons to Approach a Multi-Channel Customer Experience

  1. Customers want options to get in touch with you. Voice and digital channel options are an opportunity for you to impress and strengthen your relationship with prospects and current customers.
  2. Email, chat, SMS, and social media can be less expensive per interaction than calls.
  3. Agent workload is varied, reduces turnover, and, ultimately, leads to a more experienced and engaged workforce. This can result in better customer experience, increased loyalty, and repeat business.
  4. Staffing your contact center appropriately for multiple channels allows you to move resources in real-time to a channel that’s experiencing a spike in volume. If you’re only offering one channel, you have a limited ability to juggle resources to match needs. Often, the quality assurance program is the first to suffer when freeing up resources to handle peaks.
  5. Virtual agents can refer to FAQs to answer chat without using live-agent resources, but be sure to use this option appropriately. Customers who have read the FAQs already and who are using web chat for a human touch will be disappointed if they get the same responses from chat. Clearly differentiate the experience when a customer is interfacing with a website avatar (virtual agent) from when they have chosen to communicate with a human being over web chat.

5 Reasons to Approach Multi-Channel Customer Experience With Caution

  1. Change is often hard. Different success metrics, agent profiles, and processes may be appropriate. This could result in a cultural change with new philosophies driving focus on different behaviors than before, new hiring strategies, or a different look and feel to the frontline teams.
  2. Technology could be a limiting factor here, prohibiting you from getting it right. You need to consider what happens to your contact center agent desktop when you add these new channels—if an agent can handle calls, chat and email. This shouldn’t mean juggling three different tools with potential risk of receiving a contact from each channel all at the same time. It’s important to get the right contact center platform that also includes the ability to report, forecast, and plan resources; monitor quality; remain compliant with appropriate legislation; and maintain visibility of activity across channels to achieve consistency in customer experience. There is a need for a common database for all channels to access and deliver uniform information.
  3. You risk distancing yourselves from your customers, as your customers may not feel better-suited to communicate in the new ways you’re offering. Know your customers, understand their demographic and what is likely to please them or add value. ASK THEM!
  4. Multiple channels could mean multiple small pockets of agent resources, which is costly compared to larger groups. There is a tendency to fall to multitasking to regain some efficiency, but this can lead to a dip in quality and FCR. And that can drive up overall interaction volumes.
  5. A multi-channel customer experience can be complicated. You may find that your customers prefer to have easy access to good service over the phone instead of mediocre service across a diverse range of channels. Options are key!

Now that we’ve discussed why you should deploy a multi-channel customer experience strategy, stay tuned for part 2, where we evaluate what channels are right for your business.

Interested in learning how to ensure your multi-channel customer experience strategy provides customers with a consistent experience across channels? Download our eBook, Not All CX Platforms are Created Equal.