The alternative contact channels
Research carried out by Ember Services highlights the value of choice in the contact channels for improving customer care. Some examples of the benefits are:
- Web contact: National Rail Enquiries has migrated 80% of all contacts to the web. They have seen customer enquiries grow by 343% over nine years yet still achieved a fourfold reduction in operating cost.
- Online handled inquiries: Surrey County Council has grown the percentage of enquiries handled online from 85% to 94% and reduced its average cost per enquiry by 38%.
- Twitter: HomeDepot, estimates that it has prevented 15 million potential telephone calls and helped solve 8,500 customer problems via Twitter.
These companies haven’t abandoned the telephone channel. However, Ember’s founder Mike Havard says: “Instead they have identified those tasks customers are happy to complete by other means and encouraged them to do so. Customers are happy to use alternative channels but expect to do so on their own terms. Companies that restrict customer choice will suffer their disapproval.”
The research report offers the following advice for organisations planning multi-channel strategies:
- Customers’ channel preferences are multiple, not singular and will change on a day-to-day basis according to their situation and the task they wish to complete. Companies must offer multiple platform choices and make sure they are simultaneously available and linked so that the customer experience is seamless across all channels.
- Customers will embrace alternative channels if they see the benefit for them as well as the provider. Instead of forcing customers to use lower-cost channels by restricting their options, companies must analyse the drivers of ‘expensive’ phone-based or in-store interactions and deflect them by offering proactive information via other channels. This has the dual benefit of reducing an organisation’s operating costs and boosting its service reputation.
- Customers will typically revert to the telephone for complex or emotionally charged enquiries. Therefore, companies must maintain a sustainable body of agents, and invest appropriately in developing their skills and providing them with information and insight that will help them serve customers better. This includes providing a single view of the customer’s interaction history across all channels so that the service offered is cohesive and informed.
Call Management can research your client’s attitudes to customer care contact through various channels and subsequently provide you with cost-effective channels which best fit your enterprise needs. We can be your one-stop Contact Centre.
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