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The numbers of customers who buy online are increasing and will continue to increase. This is no revelation, but it does mean that customer service and call centres alike must move with the times to offer multiple channels for customer queries.

Where Do Customers Begin their online Journey?

According to research done by Telco 2.0 Research, 65% of customers start the buying process on a smartphone and 25% begin on a laptop or PC. Of the 65% who start on their smartphones 61% continue the buying process on a laptop/PC.

This outlines the need for the 3 online methods of customer service:

  • Email
  • Live Chat
  • Social Media

Omnichannel contact centre

Email: An old but gold method

It has been around since the early nineties, which makes it old in technology terms. However it still comes second only to the telephone with regards to customer service volume in call centres. Email is easy to record and can be used for many business campaigns, think newsletters, advertising, notifications etc. One downside is that it can be time consuming if the customers question is not answered in the first email, this can lead to a lot of back and forth.

Live Chat: The Future?

In short I don’t think so, in the sense that it will not become the be all and end all of customer service. I believe it will become more popular yes. You will see it on more websites and it will become an important cog in the Omni channel customer service wheel rather than being a standalone service. The benefits are there for everyone to see, it’s immediate, convenient and keeps the customer on your website for longer.

Social Media: #ThePublicPerception

You could argue that it is the most important of all because of its popularity and the sheer amount of worldwide users. It is customer service played out for the world to see and can have a real impact on your company image, both positively as well as negatively. So how do the best take care of social media customer service?

  • They reply fast. Within an hour seems to be the industry standard but it is obviously something you should get on ASAP
  • They go the extra mile. Forget the canned responses such as “We’re sorry, our technical team is working on the issue…..” Personalise responses to not only fix the problem but create advocates for your business
  • They are proactive. When a problem arises don’t just wait for the inevitable wave of customer service queries. Acknowledge the issue, apologise and state when it will be fixed
  • They have a sense of humour. Simply focusing on business issues non-stop can come across as dreary on your feed. You will find that entertaining posts will get the most views/likes. (This obviously depends on what service/product your company provides)

Telephone Answering: Is it on the way out?

Absolutely not, in a recent whitepaper I read that 79% of customers would prefer to talk to someone over the phone. This is down to our nature as humans; we want to still be able to speak to someone as it gives us piece of mind that our issue is being dealt with. Email, live chat and social media can become cold and robotic at times but having a call centre with telephone answering services on top of the other services will give customers a warmer service. For example I dealt with a customer through live chat then email before we spoke on the phone and I managed to solve an issue that may have taken 2-3 emails back and forth, whilst getting a feel for this person and their personality.

Omni channel

None of the above is as effective on their own as they are together. You must cater for the customers who are on the go and prefer to email through their smartphone, the customers who have a quick question before purchasing they want answered immediately through live chat, the customer who know their way around hashtags & sharing and finally the customer who calls to talk to a customer service representative over the phone.

Accounting for all these customers will ensure you will make the most of your 2015.