How many blogs or articles have been written recently that talk about multichannel customer service as if it is the next big thing? Really? It’s not what the board should be talking about in strategy meetings that are designing a future agenda because its already here, right now.
In my opinion companies running any kind of customer service function should consider that customers are already comfortable using at least six different channels. This may sound like a lot, but we are only just getting started.
Let’s start with the simple ones. The voice call, email, and chat, probably launched from the corporate website. But then add to this the two most popular social channels, Twitter and Facebook, and then the review sites or forums. If you work in hospitality then what customers say on Tripadvisor can trigger sweet dreams or nightmares.
That’s half a dozen channels that most customers will now be familiar with and already using when they need help. Of course there are many other social networks and specialist forums that often offer a way for knowledgeable customers to directly help others. The landscape is continuously evolving.
Google just retired their Orkut social network recently and Facebook is applying their expertise to the Oculus Rift virtual reality system. The Project Glass videos that demonstrated the concept of Google Glass before it was a product were only published in 2012. Things are moving fast. It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see a world beyond smart phones, where wearable technologies similar to Glass can transport the user to a new world.
Consumers will almost certainly use these new tools to contact brands. They will be asking for information, making complaints, and buying products. In a couple of years the executives managing customer service will be trying to include virtual environments in their multichannel strategy and wondering how to make it work – in the same way that many brands couldn’t understand why a consumer would ask a question on Twitter rather than just calling the toll-free number.
Anyone with a customer service responsibility today needs to step back, to stop thinking that multichannel means answering a few tweets with amusing replies that might be retweeted. The way society communicates as a whole is changing and this means that the customer service function needs to consider that the journey to multichannel customer engagement is just the first step on a long road to the future.
Have you seen any organisations that are really excelling at multichannel support for customers? Leave a comment here on the blog or tweet me on @matt_sims1.
Photo by Global Panorama licensed under Creative Commons