Achieving consistency across multiple channels is clearly critical for any contact centre looking to provide a more joined up customer experience – particularly given the continued shift towards digital channels. Ofcom recently released its annual consumer study. It illustrated the scale of the shift – suggesting that today’s British six-year-olds are already more digitally-aware than the average 45-year-old adult!
So for anyone still in doubt about the significance of digital customer engagement, the signs are pretty clear. At Sabio we’re keeping a close eye on the take-up of digital channels such as web chat and video chat. Web chat alone was projected to grow by 35% this year. The true figure is now looking more like 60%. That’s not a trend; it’s a major shift in customer behaviour!
However, while there’s clearly a growing consumer appetite for digital, service providers also need to recognise that simply adding new channels into the mix is not the same as delivering a truly integrated multi-channel strategy. Organisations particularly need to work much harder at integrating their digital e-commerce and customer contact operations, especially given that it’s the same customers they’re dealing with.
Technology solutions that enable intelligent multi-channel integration, provide agent desktops and support social engagement are all now starting to add value. For example, with more and more customers using non-voice channels such as social, e-mail and chat to get in touch, the traditional contact centre is already assuming a greater role as the de facto channel of escalation. Agents are now being called on to resolve those interactions that are perhaps too complex for newer channels.
One area that’s helping to smooth the interface between digital channels and the contact centre is ‘embedding’, or the process of incorporating opportunities to connect to live service options at critical points of the digital customer journey. These can include direct links to the contact centre or requests for callback. Embedded links are just one of the factors driving greater use of callback services, and this in turn is contributing to a wider shift towards outbound calling.
With outbound the agent is in control of the interaction right from the start. They have access to all of a customer’s details, and they often know exactly how far along the customer journey they have progressed. When the interaction is outbound, it is typically pre-authenticated and already contextualised. Agents are ready to go, and interactions will benefit from minimal levels of customer effort.
Critical to all these developments is the issue of context. When you’re transitioning across channels, particularly from online or self-service to live service, it’s critical that customers can take contextual details with them. With successful engagement increasingly dependent on reducing customer effort, it’s now clear that allowing customers to transition channels without their associated context is a really bad idea.
This of course presents a significant challenge for those customer service providers that are still locked into silo channels. Brought up on a model where success was based on the volumes of contacts processed through each channel, these organisations can often find it hard to adjust to a more contextualised approach.
Ken is one of Sabio’s founding directors and has over 18 years experience of setting up and running contact centres all over the world. This practical experience, gained across many vertical markets, has given him the insight needed to define Sabio’s unique approach to the market.
For additional information see Sabio’s Company Profile
Contact Centre image with thanks to Jabra