Multichannel Customer Service: Are you Asking the Right Questions?


The very first question is WHY? Why do you want to implement a multichannel approach to your customer support?

In recent years, multi (or omni) channel support has gone from a nice-to-have to something customers expect. Anything less than being everywhere all the time is now considered sub-par. The same advancements in tech that have boosted customer expectations in this area have made it easier for customer service teams to meet those expectations. Just look around.

While there are some major advantages to reaching customers across channels, there are also some drawbacks that are often ignored as companies adopt multichannel support.

So, here are a few things to consider before you go all-in on multichannel support.

What is your goal?

What do you want to achieve with your multi channel support strategy? Like any business goal, this objective should be tied to data and metrics. “We want to be super available” is not a goal, you can’t measure it or tie it to performance stats. 

An example of a good goal would be to reach millennials and Gen Z on 3rd-party platforms where they are more active. A Gartner study indicates that these younger individuals prefer 3rd-party guidance when trying to resolve issues. Finding a way to reach them on these sites could connect you with people you wouldn’t have reached otherwise.

How are you measuring multi channel performance?

To ensure the effectiveness of digital channels, businesses must measure their performance using key metrics. You can measure 3rd-party chats the way you would any other channel. Response times, resolution rates, and customer satisfaction scores are critical indicators of how well a channel is performing, and none of these metrics require access to 3rd-party data. By regularly monitoring these metrics, companies can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance their customer service strategies.

How do 3rd-party channels fit into your security infrastructure?

Another goal might be to connect with customers through a 3rd-party chat before moving to a more secure chat environment. 

Financial institutions and insurance companies work with strict privacy regulations that limit their customer interactions to secure connections on owned-channels. 

This pretty much rules out 3rd-party channels for customer support. However, in some cases it is possible to use 3rd-party chats for right-channeling (also known as routing), making initial contact with customers before directing them to your own secure channel.

It needs to be easy

No matter what your goals with multichannel support, you have to make sure it’s easy for customers and support agents to use. The main reason to make your support available through WhatsApp and Facebook, at the expense of controlling the platform and the data you could glean from it, is that it’s more convenient for customers on those platforms. But if your multichannel support adds complications or isn’t integrated seamlessly into other channels where you may be directing customers, the extra reach probably isn’t worth it.

Take for example Vattenfall, a utilities company operating mainly in Western Europe. They made a digital channel shift an unexpected success - moving from voice to Whatsapp. Here is how they did it.

What other self-service options could you provide?

3rd-Party chat support is just one way to reach customers outside of your other support channels. Other self-service options, such as FAQs, knowledge bases, and tutorials, empower customers to find solutions independently. These resources are invaluable for providing quick and efficient answers to common queries, reducing the workload on customer support teams.

When you’re integrating your channels, don’t forget to consider how you might direct 3rd-party chat contacts to these resources.

Multiple Channels, One Purpose

The best way to think about multichannel support is holistically rather than channel-by-channel. Different channels may offer different strengths and weaknesses or access to different audiences, but the purpose of your multi-channel support should remain the same across channels.

When in doubt, ask yourself of each channel: Does this make my customers happier and help my agents do their jobs easier?

Happy agents, better conversations

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