5 Keys for Multi-Channel Customer Support

Customers are seeking your attention in immediate and demanding ways. They are asking questions on Twitter, but if you are not fast enough in your response, they are jumping on to your Facebook page. That new “Like” is actually just a subtle way of asking for help. Still not getting what they want, they seek out email on their phone and request a call. Welcome to Multi-Channel Customer Support.

5 Keys for Multi Channel Customer Support image 7461733230 d2ba2ba556 o 300x2025 Keys for Multi Channel Customer SupportOne of the many challenges of this type of connectivity is how these systems were originally set up. Customer Service, a stand alone department in many companies, remains a call center. The internal workings of your organization are showing. Every customer can relate to the frustration of being transferred from one department to another to resolve what seems like a simple issue.

That’s the same feeling customers have when it takes four different channels to get an answer. What’s worse, is when it’s obvious the various channels aren’t connected. (Psst…your silos are showing!)

Take showrooming. It’s not uncommon to spot shoppers scanning bar codes in stores to see if there is a less expensive price via online stores. How many retailers are training employees to feel empowered when this happens? Instead, many retail workers view the web and mobile devices as competition. An empowered retail worker, however, could proactively approach the shopper and offer knowledge on the current price matching guarantees or the perks of purchasing today. Help the customer feel welcome and knowledgeable, instead of feeling like he or she is sneaking around, trying to gain knowledge on the sly.

Multi-channel customer support fails are well-documented. If you peel back the layers, those very public fails are typically tied to a few themes.

5 Keys to Multi-channel Customer Support

  1. Be sure marketing, PR, legal and customer service are well-trained and well-connected around these channels. They move quickly, and both failures and successes will be very public. Social media brand representatives don’t understand the medium or the customer service policies. Treating social media channels as nothing more than sales promotions will fail every time. Putting excellent marketers there will only work until the first real customer service situation.
  2. Treat your online channels as friends, not enemies. There is no such thing as cannibalizing your brand if it is well connected. Update employees who deal directly with customers, whether in-store or via any channel, on the most current online experiences. Explain when there will be questions, such as if the Web store has a lower price on a product, and how to answer the customers who ask. Don’t leave the channels in silos.
  3. Test your mobile site. Test your mobile site. Test your mobile site. And then test again from various devices. What works great on your iPhone might work terribly on your customer’s Android tablet.
  4. Take the time to review chat logs, customer emails, and call center recordings. These will tell you what is commonly coming up for your customers. Consider the context. If your customers are all emailing you about a certain issue, watch for what channels they are discussing. If your customers are all explaining they’re emailing because it’s not worth calling, you know you have a bigger challenge with your customer service inbound calls.
  5. Don’t create your online or mobile apps or sites in a vacuum. Mobile apps that include a store locator, for example, must be kept updated with locations that are open for business. Be proactive here. Don’t rely on customer complaints to tell you when your multi-channel customer support is broken.

Here’s the scary and exciting thing. We are at the TIP of the iceberg here. Customers not only expect you to support them on their terms, but they expect you to support them across the channels seamlessly. Are you staying connected?

Photo credit: IBMPhoto24 via Creative Commons license

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