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May 15, 2013

Using a Multichannel Strategy to Deliver an Exceptional Customer Experience

10 things to consider when building a multichannel strategy

It’s a dilemma in call centers everywhere. How do you provide a superior customer experience, and still keep costs under control? Customer satisfaction metrics such as Net Promoter Score can help, although a more telling metric is the call deflection rate and moving customers to low-cost channels. Here are 10 objectives that, working together, can help your call center create a cost-effective multichannel engagement and improve the customer relationship lifecycle.

1. Have a “data filter” for all channels

In multichannel engagement, certain channels are affected by “noise.” Social media is a good example with all of the extracurricular noise that travels through social networks. A “data filter” strategy — a distinct set of criteria, from influencers to sentiment, and from trends to categorization of conversations — can help call centers discern critical consumer information from noise. This strategy, which should be applied to all channels, should also include supplemental workflows, business processes, and cost-reducing options such as IVR and eServices to limit call center overloads.

2. Improve website traffic and page views

Callback, co-browsing, chat, and email can increase page views and conversion rates on your website, and should be interwoven with any analytics or marketing automation tools being used. An example here is a consumer visiting your website after having a positive conversation on Twitter (News - Alert) regarding your company. Thanks to your “data filter,” the call center agent knows about the consumer’s Twitter experience, and is well-prepared to engage the person via chat or co-browsing. The customer experience then becomes more personalized and rewarding.

3. Implement a knowledge base

Companies have the challenge of organizing and providing content to help customers resolve problems — FAQs, how-to’s, comments, documents, videos, podcasts, and so on. This content should be organized in a knowledge base, with articles of information classified by channel, type of problem, and other relevant criteria. Consumers can enhance information, collaborate for solutions, and provide expert knowledge to help other consumers, thereby decreasing customer support costs.

4. Use mobile applications

With consumers increasingly turning to tablets and smartphones, the multichannel strategy must integrate mobile applications as much as possible. Preferred mobile apps are those that lower the cost of customer service, such as being able to “face time” with a consumer to help troubleshoot a problem. Also preferred are mobile apps that provide content and transactions, allowing the consumer to bypass the call center. An added value to both types of mobile applications is to include options to chat, call, or email directly from the app.

5. Integrate the call center with forums and communities

Blogs and public forums such as Yahoo! Answers and YouTube (News - Alert) typically provide content that companies don’t include on their website. (Most company’s sites incorporate no knowledge base or content that encompasses consumer reviews, collaboration, and feedback.) To enhance your multichannel strategy, consider incorporating your company’s own forums and communities as part of the call center. This allows for better collaboration between the company and consumers, can improve the call deflection rate, and can increase web page views and the number of advocates.

6. Establish business processes and workflow

“Data filters,” channels, integration points, customer data and the knowledge base must all work together to offer a suitable customer experience. This is particularly important when enforcing processes to maximize or maintain the relationship with the consumer. In the call center, a “business process platform” can help synchronize all transactions and business rules as needed.

7. Use technology that’s agile in the cloud or on-premises

Whether collections, sales, support, BPO, etc., the flexibility, and agility, to provide service via any type of call center is crucial. Call centers must therefore be able to deploy new technology quickly, in the cloud or on-premises, in any geography, for any channel, and for any customer segment.

8. Use technology that offers all-inclusive functionality

Best-of-breed technology is critical to companies in vertical markets, such as insurance companies and banks. But when companies require turnkey solutions for specific markets or geographies, “all-in-one” call center functionality is best. Having one technology platform for workforce management, monitoring, IVR, outbound dialing and other call center functions can streamline operations and enhance the customer experience — while reducing costs and deployment headaches.

9. Implement unified communications

Being able to combine voice, data, instant messaging, queues, emails, processes, workforce management, routing, and quality control is key to managing the customer relationship based on common analytics and reports. This unified communications approach leads to faster deployments, and provides one source of reporting on a single platform.

10. Go beyond CTI (News - Alert) and IVR, integrate the CRM application

CTI and IVR processes are the most common way to integrate CRM systems with the call center. Companies need to be more effective, however, in providing CRM data to the call center agent. They need to incorporate customer metrics, surveys, and a 360-degree view of the customer and business logic. The more customer data agents have, the better equipped they are to assist the consumer.

In the end, a customer experience strategy is all about the culture of the company, and companies must lead by using technology to deliver a differentiator in the market.

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Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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