New channels are changing customer service

Veronica’s recent blog mentioned that the customer service industry has moved on from a focus on contact centres or how to improve the outsourced relationship between a client and supplier.

customer-service.0822.12These may have been important considerations in the past, but the emphasis today is on the overall customer experience and how this can be improved.

One of the biggest changes in the way customers interact with the customer service function of an organisation is the proliferation of new channels. A decade ago the number of channels available to customers was far more limited than now – a voice call and email were the only options offered by most companies – but today this has changed dramatically.

In fact, I would argue that the majority of customers are now quite familiar with some form of customer service using at least six channels. Voice and email are still available and online chat is also now popular. Add online review sites or forums, such as Tripadvisor, and social networks like Twitter and Facebook and it’s clear how things have changed.

But I’m only mentioning the most commonly used channels. There are many other social networks and the important thing for a customer service manager to think of now is that this is not a fixed environment. You cannot plan a multichannel customer service strategy merely by detailing how to respond to customer tweets or Facebook posts.

The texting application Whatsapp has many more users than Twitter and is adding about a million new users every day. Wearable technologies such as Google Glass are already available to regular users and many similar technologies are on the way.

All these new communication channels are almost certainly going to be used by consumers asking for some form of customer service. Companies that have a very fixed strategy on multichannel support will struggle as new tools or networks increase in prominence and previously popular networks decline in importance.

The key is to be ready for change. Customers will use any communication tool that is available to them to ask brands for help. If you ensure that your approach to multichannel service allows you to react quickly to changing trends then you can ensure those calls for help are always answered.

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