After years of omnichannel trial and error, we now know that not every channel is suited to every customer or concern. And we all know that when purchasing a product or service online, often the best customer service is not needing service at all.
Amazon, still a leader and innovator, has embraced this “no service is the best service” philosophy, streamlining the issues in their supply chain, websites, and customer journey to minimize the need for a contact center interaction altogether.
It has been reported that all Amazon customer service representatives must complete training that includes steps specifically to:
Reduce customer effort.
Escalate systemic problems.
Solve the problem.
Capture customer feedback.
Act on survey results.
While Amazon may be working to eliminate fallout to the contact center, some degree of service will always be needed, making it important to optimize and orchestrate a better experience for enhanced balance sheets and customer satisfaction (CSAT).
In seeking ever higher CSAT levels, many brands are offering a wide array of choice through their multichannel contact center solutions. Due to competitive pressure or a lack of customer understanding, they layer on trendy contact center channel options (e.g., chatbots, video, apps) and put the power to choose how to solve issues totally in the customers’ hands. Some brands are blindly enabling customers to choose the channel they prefer, regardless of the type of inquiry by investing swiftly upfront and
hoping to accommodate preferences in exchange for higher NPS scores.
Multichannel contact center agents attempting to address a broad range of concerns are often left to assemble the cross-channel puzzle pieces as quickly as possible to deliver a swift resolution. A generalized, multichannel approach may occasionally be effective for retaining customers, but it can also lead to increased pressure on agents and HR retention issues. Luckily, there is an alternative.
Rather than providing broad
channel choice, we have found that providing the right combination of choice and guided design increases retention and satisfaction of both customers and agents.
Channel guidance involves leading the customer to the lowest-cost channel best suited for their specific support need and circumstance, while ensuring the contact center team works with other departments to prevent the need to interact with the contact center in the first place.
Channel guidance may, for example, ask the customer to categorize or declare the type of concern they have before a channel is presented to them to ensure they get the fastest resolution possible.
How do we develop a win-win channel guidance strategy? Through detailed analysis and pilot projects conducted by the
VXI CX Advisory team.
Meet the VXI CX Advisory Team!
Balancing Channel Choice and Guided Design to Optimize Customer Experiences: An On-demand Webinar Available on October 31, 2023
In this 60-minute session, evaluate the benefits of channel choice versus channel guidance, understand how process excellence relates to channel orchestration, learn how-to implement new channels successfully, and hear strategies for seamless transitions across channels.
Register and Access the Webinar
Channel Provisioning and Decisioning
According to an
Execs In The Know (EITK) survey, in the last year, 32% of customers used multiple channels to get issues resolved, 14-39% used different channels at the beginning and end of their journeys, and 41% would prefer a faster, less complicated service process.
The EITK survey suggests that customers are bouncing across channels looking for answers. However, 41% of customers say the multichannel journey could be improved with faster, less complicated processes. This is telling, as it suggests the need for channel orchestration strategies backed by process excellence and guided design to help customers achieve a swifter, less painful path to issue resolution.
While customer demographics and personas can be useful, they often don’t provide enough information to make channel provision decisions. At the core of winning customer experience design and channel selection is truly understanding:
Customers’ reasons and motivations for interacting.
The context in which they’re choosing to engage.
The steps they took prior to and while contacting the company (the journey).
Their channel capabilities and preferences.
Their definition of flexibility, convenience, and intuitiveness.
Their tolerances re: consistency and level of effort.
Depending on the circumstance, query type, and audience, certain channels are more useful than others. Ideal channels can also vary by industry, product complexity, and product category (e.g., luxury item vs. a more disposable item), and more. In many cases, channel strategy is matrixed, not linear.
For example, industry requirements may eliminate certain channels. In the financial services or healthcare sectors, for example, industry data standards may take unencrypted SMS or social media out of the running. In high-end travel and hospitality, a high-touch, concierge-type interaction may be required, so a video chat or exclusive app may be more on-brand. A gaming company with younger customers may skip email and snail mail options altogether.
Product and query complexity also come into play. A phone call may be effective for exceptional, extraordinary, or long-winded explanations. An email may be useful for lodging official complaints or attaching files or images. Asynchronous messages (e.g., through WhatsApp) may be useful for customers who are multitasking or in different time zones. Live chat or text is useful when time is of the essence.
Creating an objective, detailed matrix will lead to better channel choices and, after some iterative testing and change management, channel guidance. Once brands have a more fulsome understanding of the variables and drivers, they can:
Better anticipate common issues.
Appropriately resource for specific customer concerns.
Proactively automate the most common interaction types.
Gather better customer feedback.
Analyze and apply the survey results to consistently improve.
At VXI, we’ve found that customer experience transformation that includes channel guidance removes many common contact center issues, reduces effort for the customer, and leads to the less complicated process that customers resoundingly expressed the need for in the EITK survey mentioned above.
And while the best service may be no service, fallout is inevitable. What is your brand going to do differently this year? Adopt another channel – or provide channel guidance?
Elevate your multichannel contact center journeys with the right combination of channel choice and guided design.
The VXI Customer Experience Advisory (CXA) team has worked with many companies – including one of the largest social media companies in the world – to unearth and analyze the variables affecting channel choice and guidance.
Contact us to start designing a channel strategy that balances brand, agent, and customer needs for your company.