Customers expect a seamless and consistent experience across the growing number of channels they are using to interact with companies. What we at PowerObjects are seeing in the marketplace, is that although organizations promote that they support a multi-channel or Omni-channel service model, in reality, very few actually do and most have siloed business units that handle each channel so that data does not pass between them. To today’s customers, this is not acceptable, and they will leave to find an organization that will support them in the way they want.
Consumers are now using multiple channels and devices at any given time and are expecting to jump seamlessly from channel to channel for their service interactions. Not only should organizations be broadening their channel offerings, but they must also ensure they are providing true omni-channel service. The primary service channels we are seeing used within the industry are the most traditional ones: phone, email, and chat. However, alternative channels have started to outpace the growth trajectories of these traditional channels. Let’s discuss these alternative channels and why you should be adding them to your service strategy:
There is a self-service revolution going on in the industry and it is becoming one of the fastest growing service channels. According to Forrester Research’s North American Consumer Technographics Customer Life Cycle Survey, consumers now say they are using self-service FAQ pages on a company’s website for customer service more often than speaking with a live agent on the phone. It’s become an expectation of consumers that an organization provide a self-service option. If your organization isn’t providing an effective self-service option, you’re alienating a large portion of your customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
According to a study conducted by research firm, Gartner, by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices around the world with the ability to request support. By integrating the Internet of Things to your service infrastructure, you are given incredible visibility into data that can be used across your organization in a predictive, proactive, and personalized manner. At PowerObjects, we are seeing more organizations inquiring about the significant increases in IoT as this channel continues to mature.
SMS is often used as a channel for one-way marketing communications to consumers, but it also makes for a great customer service channel. Customers like using this SMS because it’s convenient and eliminates the need to call in to a service center and wait in a queue for a simple question or to check on the status of a work order. It also provides a cost savings to organizations since it can be cheaper to support SMS than a live phone. We see SMS/Text messaging as a new channel that consumers are migrating to given the SMS/Text explosion for certain segments like millennials.
The growth for the social media channel has steadied, but it’s still an important channel to customers who are either unhappy and want their voices heard or customers who are loyal to brand and are interested in engagement and sharing. For brands that are looking at targeting the millennial age group, they should definitely adopt and develop this channel. 78% of millennials expect a response on social media within 24 hours and 64% believe social is an effective channel for customer service. It’s important for organizations to keep up with sentiment on social media in order to provide proactive service and ensure issues do not escalate. We are seeing both social engagement and social listening driving proactive interactions for social.
The ability to provide customer-centric omni-channel service should be a priority in your organization. Studies show that organizations that adopt a true omni-channel approach to their service are better equipped to meet their customers’ communication preferences and see a boost in retention.
Want to learn more about finding omni-channel success? You can read our full report in our free white paper: Providing True Omni-channel Service in a Changing Service Landscape.