In my last blog I talked about the need for customer service executives to get a grip over the multichannel world that is already with us. The problem is, that even if they do start managing every known channel, the customer will always want more. And better. And faster.
Customers don’t care about the way you organise your contact centre. They don’t care that you might have 1,000 agents taking calls and only 5 handling Twitter enquiries. To the customer the brand needs to answer their enquiry however it is sent – your internal customer service silos are of no interest.
In our business this is called the ‘omnichannel’ and it affects every sector, although retailers appear to be the first to be working really hard to get it right. It’s a simple concept to understand, but to make it work really well is – well – really tough.
Imagine a customer visits a store, buys a product then gets home only to find it’s faulty. On the receipt is a phone number and email address so they quickly send an email from their phone asking what can be done because they are too busy to visit the store again.
After a few hours, and with no answer to the email, the customer starts tweeting angry messages that mention the product, the store it was purchased from, and the terrible customer service because nobody is getting back. After the tweets remain unacknowledged the customer finally calls the helpline and the agent asks for all the information that was sent in the original email. When the customer complains that all the information has already been sent, the agent replies saying ‘the systems are not connected so you have to give me all those details again.’
This is a fairly typical scenario. Now imagine if the agent at the contact centre had responded by apologising and reassured the customer that they were already on the case because they saw the earlier email. This might go a long way to placating an angry customer, who might even tweet a message of thanks for the great service they finally received.
Perhaps the company involved could have answered using a different channel – calling the customer as a response to the email? In most cases it works best to respond using the same channel that the customer chose to use, but now that customers are regularly using at least six channels for support it is important for companies to be able to draw a true likeness of who their customers are and what they are doing on the various channels specific to the customer experience outcomes they require.
This is not simple. The contact centre might not have a lot of information on the customer. How do you match a caller to an email if you don’t have some connecting data? The social channels are even harder because that is all external data – Facebook owns all the data on their users, you can’t include all Facebook users as a part of your internal customer database.
But it does prove that technology is going to be the answer here. We are now building systems that can provide agents with a much better picture of the customers they are interacting with. The omnichannel may still appear to be a distant mirage to some, but with the right systems and agents in place you can amaze your customers and turn them from detractors into supporters in an instant. And there’s always the ‘app’. We expect to see more and more customer service apps as standard to allow customers to connect with their chosen brands and a channel of preference using an app which will help identify them to the customer experience management team immediately.
Have you personally experienced a great omnichannel moment where a brand offered some great insight that helped you? Leave a comment here or tweet me on @matt_sims1.
Phone by Stuart Crawford licensed under Creative Commons