In this guest post, Zendesk’s customer experience strategist, Malcolm Koh (pictured below) says brands need to develop an intelligent omnichannel for their customers and he offers his easy tips on how to do it…
Marketing has always been the custodian of a company’s brand and just as new technology has transformed entire organisations and business models, it has also revolutionised marketing’s role to one that defines, designs and deploys the customer experience. And that customer experience is now your brand’s thumbprint.
With today’s informed, connected and influential customers, offering multiple contact points is considered essential in the delivery of a seamless customer experience. However, there is a difference between providing support across a few channels and delivering an integrated and intelligent omnichannel support – one that offers a single view of the customer from all touchpoints, a complete record of past interactions, and the ability to adapt content as you learn more about your customer.
According to the latest Zendesk Benchmark report, an index of product usage data from 45,000 businesses in 140 countries, businesses simultaneously leveraging Zendesk for customer support across email, webform, chat, phone and self-service experienced better ROI and support experience for customers, compared to those without an integrated system.
Despite the obvious and quantifiable benefits, only 4.2 per cent of companies in the Asia Pacific region offer integrated omnichannel support. Dimension Data found nearly 70 per cent of organisations currently have none or very few channels connected, although 80 per cent plan to change this within two years. In the world of customer experience, that’s likely 729 days too long.
Marketers need to act now
Here are three ways you can start to build an intelligent omnichannel support function and gain valuable territory in the customer experience battle:
Get to know your customers
Customers have different needs and behaviours depending on the time of day, channel preferences and a host of other factors. For example, email and website forms tend to be used by customers who want a response in a timely fashion, though not necessarily instantaneously; while disgruntled customers are more likely to turn to social media to air their grievances. Phone, on the other hand, is still viewed as the fastest way to get a complicated issue resolved, with the Software Advice Survey finding that 79 per cent of respondents preferred phone support for complex financial questions.
While these trends exist, customer behaviour can never be assumed – as an example, shoppers of an online youth fashion retailer will have very different behaviours and preferences to, say, a bank. There’s no point assuming your customers want phone support only to waste an agent’s time when the lines run silent. Leverage technology to capture a single view of the customer from every touchpoint and adapt your omnichannel strategy to the who, when and how of your individual customer.
Tackle your weak spots
Do you have any self-service searches that always result in tickets? Or long phone wait times? It is important to identify your red flags, but curing your shortcomings should not be as rudimentary as hiring more agents.
An intelligent omnichannel function where every channel is integrated means you can do more with less. For example, help customers find what they’re looking for on their own by building out your self-service function. This frees up agents to focus on enquiries that truly require attention. Likewise, instead of making phone support available to every customer all of the time, potentially resulting in customers having to wait through long hold times, try using a request call model that empowers agents to escalate tickets to calls from any channel. For example, if a ticket has two touches, set up a trigger to automatically ask a customer if they want an agent to call them to resolve their issue.
By understanding your top issues and the average resolution time for each, you can identify better routing rules. This will allow you to get customers to the right agents sooner, and correctly match requests to the channels best suited for them.
Improve your live experience
The fastest growing customer support channels are live chat and social media. They outperform other support channels across key performance metrics of CSAT scores, number of re-opens, and first resolution time. More specifically, live chat and Facebook have the highest CSAT scores, fastest reply time, take fewest replies to resolve a ticket, and are the most efficient.
Phone and chat support see the lowest share of tickets get reopened, meaning customers who use those channels are much more likely to have their issues resolved on the first attempt.
As customer expectations shift toward wanting an always-on, streamlined experience across channels, live channels are essential to offering a seamless omnichannel customer experience. As you add these, remain focused on operational efficiency and ensuring channels work together for the benefit of your customers. You might explore limiting how many customers you offer live channels to at first, enabling you to work out any issues before offering real-time support to your entire customer base.
In summary, if you want to build the best customer experience, choose an intelligent omnichannel solution that is constantly responding to your customers’ needs and preferences. from a central point. At the end of the day, it will help you be the brand your customers want you to be.