How to Deliver a Successful Multichannel Customer Experience

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Midway through an online bank transaction, the Web site times out. Was the transaction completed? What’s next? Call the bank and use the automated speech system to get the account balance. Unfortunately, the balance does not reflect the transfer. Pressing 0 to speak with a representative confirms the transaction has not occurred. Next, the phone rings with an automated survey asking for feedback on the experience with the contact center. Since the survey questions are about the agent experience and not the overall bank experience, the responses are positive. So, does the bank even know that this customer was frustrated and not satisfied? Not from the feedback on this transaction.

Moving beyond standard measures of customer satisfaction is no longer an option. In the example above, the customer satisfaction rating is high in the contact center, but the number of customers opting out of IVR self-service is increasing. The organization is incurring unnecessary costs fielding calls that should be handled in a lower-cost, self-service channel.

Nearly 60 percent of all customer experiences take place across multiple channels at different times. The overall customer experience is created from the accumulation of these interactions over time. However, companies rarely offer customer care from this perspective. They have built brick-and-mortar stores, Web sites, IVRs, and contact centers, each of which is managed in a different location and evaluated with a different measure of success.

Consider these key factors when designing a multichannel automated-solutions strategy that is personalized, humanized, and context- and customer-aware, and avoid the common pitfalls that lead to unhappy customers:

Unique identification of each customer’s experience within and across multiple channels. Identify a primary key unique to each customer and interaction. It is not uncommon to know who is calling into a call center, but it becomes increasingly difficult to recognize and collect information about who is on a company’s Web site or in a store.

Unique identification of each customer’s experience across multiple time periods. Capturing data across different time periods is easily accomplished with a time and date stamp; however, isolating multiple customer contacts into individual issues is an arduous task. Customers will contact companies many times throughout the life cycle of their relationships. Differentiating between repetitive contacts concerning the same issue and new contacts is critical.

Tools and skill set to unlock the power of data. Once an approach to collecting and mapping customer interaction data across multiple channels has been determined, you need to unlock the power of this data. Most organizations do not have the appropriate analytical tools and resources in place to truly understand customer behavior.

Commitment of senior leadership. Aligning senior leaders throughout the organization is crucial and could very well require significant realignment of business units and work groups.

With customer expectations rising, enterprises face competing demands in trying to reduce costs, generate revenue, and improve customer service. As customer interaction habits evolve, companies need to take a hard look at how they evaluate customer behaviors across multiple channels. Companies can draw on several fundamental ideas and approaches to shape the right customer experience while increasing efficiency and managing costs. Companies can focus on:

Capturing revenue. Today’s solutions enable organizations to blend self-service and agent-assisted transactions to present targeted up-sell and cross-sell promotions.

Enriching the customer experience. Companies can increase satisfaction and loyalty by making interactions more personalized and intuitive.
Controlling costs. Companies can increase efficiency in interactions across channels and contain customers in cost-effective self-service channels. They can analyze the reasons why customers opt out of automated channels, provide greater intelligence and sophistication in automated interactions, and improve the efficiency of live agents—all of which helps decrease support costs, increase first contact resolution, and enhance customer satisfaction.
Accelerating adoption of automated customer-facing processes. Companies can take steps to help ensure that customers use, enjoy, and benefit from self-service, and take up those offerings quickly to drive a rapid, measurable impact on the business.

Jo Ann Parris is vice president of relationship technology management at Convergys. She is responsible for marketing, business development, and solution management for Convergys’ portfolio of self-service and advanced automation solutions. She can be reached at jo.ann.parris@convergys.com.

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