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TASKE Technology's Call Center Blog

Today’s consumers expect similar services from an organization to be available from a variety of streams. For the retail sector, Wikipedia defines the term omni-channel as “concentrated more on a seamless approach [than multi-channel retailing] to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, catalog and so on.”

This multi-channel concept also applies to the support that your contact center provides. Offering customers more than one channel to find the information they need or to resolve an issue lets them choose their preferred channel, which in turn, increases customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, “The Autonomous Customer 2013” whitepaper from Avaya and BT reports that  “Only 17% [of consumers] say organisations make it easy to switch between different channels”.

Let’s look at a couple of ways that a telephone-based contact center can expand its service offerings without incurring a significant expense.

Primary Agent Provides Email Address for a Single Point of Contact

Ideally, all customer calls would be resolved during first contact. In reality though, an agent may need time to investigate an issue further, an issue may need to be escalated to a different team in your organization, or a caller may need to end the call before an issue is resolved. These are just some examples where at least one more interaction will be needed with the customer.

There are a few reasons why you may want to let agents provide callers with their business email address for followup contact. Some callers prefer written communication over verbal communication. In other cases, geographical disparity or personal schedules may make it difficult for the customer to contact your organization during business hours.

The primary reason for providing an agent’s email address, however, is that the customer can reconnect with the same agent. Even if the email is used only to set up a time for the next call, reconnecting with the same agent reduces the amount of redundant explanation by the caller on the reason for the call or background information about attempts to resolve an issue.

Online Content Anticipates Support Issues and Uses Appropriate Means to Provide Answers

We’ve talked in previous blogs about the value of posting “how to” videos on your website. The key to their success is to correctly anticipate both the most common problems that your customers encounter and, of those problems, to choose the ones that will be most effectively resolved using a visual display. While agents should be able to identify the questions that they answer most frequently, not all of these issues can be effectively demonstrated.

For example, a video may not be the best way to convey warranty coverage information. You’ll frustrate a customer who, after searching for this information, has to sit through several minutes of video that only shows a company representative talking to the camera. Unless you’re going to show, for example, the type of damage that is covered, this type of information would be best presented in a textual FAQ.

Where videos provide the most value is when there’s something that you can do or show, such as how to correctly complete a difficult task related to assembling a physical product or a series of steps when installing a software service.

Whatever information you make available online, review it on a regular basis to ensure that it is still relevant. If an update to an existing product or service is released, review its online content. If the content is no longer valid, remove it until you can provide current information.

When providing options for support, it’s a good idea to make sure that your call center’s contact information is easily accessible. “The Autonomous Customer 2013” whitepaper reports that “Consumers still use the phone as the channel they rely on most when they have queries, particularly when trying to resolve complex problems”, with 91% wanting  an organization’s phone number clearer on all communications. When a customer wants to speak with an agent, you’ll only increase their frustration if they can’t locate the appropriate telephone number.

Giving customers several options for support lets them use their preferred method. You may want to try to identify whether there are trends for various options. For example, you may find that demographics are different for phone-only support versus a combination of phone and followup email. You may also see patterns where pre-sales inquiries use one option and product or service complaints use a different option. Regardless, your customer satisfaction levels will increase because you’ve given customers the choice to use an option that suits them.

See you next month.

 

Tags: budgets, communication channels, customer satisfaction, self-service, service levels, services.

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