What’s the Deal With Multichannel Customer Service?
Companies are always on the lookout for innovative uses of technologies to adjust and improve their customer service solutions. Especially in the world of mobile and online technology, progress is constant, requiring companies to keep up with the latest developments and thus outpace the competition.
Companies are also obliged to consider the ever-shifting expectations of end customers. Strong customer service support has become a “must”—not only through traditional means like phone or email, but also through new channels such as social media, video chat, apps, and instant messaging. Especially when it comes to B2C products, the selection of the right channels is crucial.
Before the SELLBYTEL Group implements a new communication tool, we always evaluate its purpose and practicality, and consider whether it brings a significant added value to our clients and their customers.
The key question for us is: What are the most relevant contact channels for the brand and the target audience?
This article discusses the importance of multichannel service as well as investigates the benefits, challenges and customer requirements connected to it. In the second and final part – which forms part of an exclusive publication – SELLBYTEL’s approach is introduced.
Why Is Multichannel Customer Service So Important?
The multichannel strategy includes a combination of traditional methods — phone, email and live chat support — alongside social media and self-service. Customer service is not a “one size fits all” solution, and different people prefer different support methods. Customers should have the ability to choose the interaction and communication option that works best for them, no matter where or when the contact is needed. Moreover, a business should be where its customers are — ideally, before they arrive. Because of this, it is important to stay on top of the latest developments.
But what exactly do you and your customer get out of that?
The Benefits of a Multichannel Strategy
- Accessibility: Chat or social media in particular provide more extensive accessibility than phone.
- Choice: You give the customers options for how to contact you — they choose both means and time. This automatically enhances satisfaction.
- Efficiency: The service advisors’ time is used more efficiently, as they serve multiple channels.
The final outcomes are:
- Improved productivity
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
- Accelerated long-term growth through customer loyalty
What Challenges Could You Face?
As channel options increase, you need to think about questions like: How do my customers prefer to get in touch with me? I.e. how do I decide which channels to offer? What is the right number of channels to support?
The key is putting in place the best-fitting channels for your specific business, so customers can choose according to their preferences. This means you should select your channels based on your individual brand and business characteristics, product complexity, and target audience. However, more channels do not necessarily improve the service; instead, poorly chosen channels increase costs and wasted effort (Zendesk, 2015),
We will discuss this further, later in the paper, with two SELLBYTEL case examples.
The Requirements: Which Channels Do Your Customers Want?
According to Markus Schöllmann, SELLBYTEL Group Vice President of Strategy, and based on the above, the most crucial question is which channels your customers want. There is certainly no single perfect solution, as consumers have varying expectations depending on, for example, demographics, age, or lifestyle. However, the following customer support channels are most common:
- Website live help through “Click-to-Call.” This is a form of web-based communication, whereby a call, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), or text chat follows directly from clicking on an object (e.g. button, image or text) on a website.
- Video Chat
This usually includes expert video support scheduled for a specific time. The main benefits of this are the ability to offer high personalization, proximity, and a sense of exclusivity to the customer.
- Social Media
This involves important platforms like Twitter or Facebook. While these do not replace traditional service, social media can be a useful add-on. Here, it is important to really take the customer by the hand and support him with skilled specialists. These already support clients, so this is just an additional communication channel for that work.
- Smartphone Apps
These phone-based apps are excellent channels for delivering support instantly and efficiently. Besides, a well-designed app can make you learn more about your customers, their locations, job roles or spending patterns and thus help you better tailor your communications and offers to them.
- Instant Messaging
These services including Telegram or WhatsApp enable internet chat conversations and the passing on of information in real time – mostly at no or low costs.
To find out how the SELLBYTEL Group approaches this in practice, please access our detailed management paper.
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Text: Anna-Luisa Wiefel