With new technologies becoming ever more accessible to customers of all demographics, there is increasing demand for variety in the support channels offered. Customers may have accepted being driven to a single channel in the past; today, the lack of a preferred channel may have a significant impact on customer retention. But there is more to achieving multi-channel success than simply adding the new channel and expecting it to work with your existing technology and training programs. This week, we will look at a few best practices for a multi-channel support setup.
It’s true in every aspect of service; informed agents are better agents. When it comes to your customers’ support history, this truth becomes the key to a positive support experience. Customers want to feel that your representatives are listening to them; if they have to repeat on the phone everything that was said yesterday over email, how will they feel heard? Support agents need visibility into a customer’s support history over all available channels. Likewise, agents should be empowered to record customer feedback and respond to customers across a variety of channels. A customer who attempts to reach you via one channel, and then chooses a second channel instead, is a valuable source of constructive feedback. Did they go to chat because hold times were too long on the phone? Did they call your number because the website was hard to navigate? Make sure your agents are trained to find out, and able to share with stakeholders.
Utilize agent strengths
A multi-channel approach will offer opportunities for you to develop agent skills and productivity. Agents who need more training in one aspect of service can learn on-the-job while focusing skills on a single channel. Agents can build up their product knowledge or technical troubleshooting knowledge while responding to email, forums or social media, in preparation for the more demanding task of providing real time support on the phone. Agents with the skills to handle cross-channel support will be more efficient, have less downtime and offer you more flexibility in staffing and expanding operations.
Drive customers to the best resolution
Different support channels are suited for different types of customer contact. The best multi-channel approach understands the needs of various customers and drives customers to the channel that offers the easiest resolution. For example, a customer with complex technical issues requiring configuration of third-party software is not likely to have a pleasant, supportive experience in chat; a customer with a simple inquiry about pricing may be frustrated to spend five minutes on the phone to ask what amounts to a 20 second question. To give your customers the best chance of selecting the right support channel, you need the right technology, information about your customers’ specific needs and possible points of frustration, and a support group with the awareness and sensitivity to manage both. In the coming weeks, we will look at individual channels and how best to leverage the strengths of each.