Organisations have happily supplemented voice with digital channels, but very few have integrated them. It’s a shame. Unless your customer service and sales channels are connected – so that interactions originating on one can continue on another – the customer experience you deliver will not only be disappointing, it will cost more than it should do and deliver and generate less revenue than it might.
It isn’t always easy, so here are Ember’s top tips for achieving successful channel integration:
1. Break down the silos
Don’t let departmental silos come between you and your customers. Digital channels have traditionally been ‘owned’ by marketing, voice channels by the contact centre. So long as channels are controlled by different teams with different processes, objectives and measures of success, achieving a ‘joined up’ customer experience is going to be tough. So, forge alliances with those departments that control other channels and create a cross functional team focused on delivering customer oriented change across them all.
2. Focus on the customer
As you collaborate, don’t get bogged down in internal manoeuvrings between your channel management teams. Keep the end game of an excellent customer experience in mind and use it as the basis to agree priorities and drive change.
3. Drive for consistency
Make sure the information you provide across every channel is consistent and correct – a single version of the truth in every regard. This will involve checking basic details and branding, but will also involve integrating knowledge bases, so that the customer gets the same answer to their question and the same standard of service whichever channel they choose.
4. Share data
Make sure that full customer information is available at every touch point. If a transaction starts on a self-service channel but leads to a live agent interaction, make sure the transaction history is transferred to the agent’s desktop so that they can provide an informed and appropriate service. If a customer is browsing your online store, knowledge of their previous purchasing history will allow you to highlight items that match their buying patterns.
5. Measure consistently
Capture, store and share data from every customer interaction across every channel. Then analyse that data to understand your customers’ preferences and how well your services meet them. It will provide the evidence you need to drive change that delivers the best possible results. It depends, of course, on having consistent performance measures across all channels – from usage volumes to transaction duration, to customer effort and satisfaction. Having a single version of the truth – and a shared language to discuss it – will avoid political infighting and make sure that the right decisions are made for the business and the customer.
6. From measurement to service levels
Once you have consistent measures across all channels, you can develop the appropriate targets and service levels that will form the basis of your cross channel monitoring and management. But remember, service levels must be appropriate to the channel; a response time of 30 minutes may be fine for an email, but will be unacceptable in web chat or on a phone call.
7. Technology in its place
Channel integration is a technological challenge but technology should not be the primary driver of your programme. Your integration efforts should be led by those that understand most clearly the customers’ priorities and the business value to be derived by meeting them. Technology, as ever, is the servant, not the master.
Channel integration doesn’t just mean knitting technologies together, but collaborating with areas of the business that control different channels – customer service, sales and marketing – to agree customer contact strategies and design multichannel customer journeys that deliver the best possible results for the company and the customer.