April 13, 2022
Getting your organization’s customer service channel strategy right can help reduce operational costs and increase customer satisfaction. It can also be an opportunity to boost the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Customer support plays a significant role in how customers feel about an organization. In fact, 84% of customers say that their experience with an organization’s customer service department is important or very important in shaping their opinion of that organization. Part of excellent customer experience management involves effective channel strategy.
Planning an Effective Customer Service Channel Strategy
A channel strategy is an organization’s plan for reaching customers with its products or services. Channels serve two primary functions: selling to the customer or delivering customer experience (i.e., tech support, customer service, providing information, etc.).
The channels customers want to use presently should point towards the channels you want to include in your strategy. It is essential to prepare to integrate future channels as customer habits change.
Almost 50% of customers said their communication preferences have changed in the last few years.
Focus Channel Strategy on Increasing Issue Resolution
Bringing in new ways of communicating with customers is exciting; however, when contact center management and IT teams get caught up in the excitement, it can cause a misalignment between channel strategy and customer wants.
Customers ought to have the ability to choose whether they get into multi-channel journeys. Nearly one-third of respondents said they had to switch channels because of issue complexity, which led to lower satisfaction levels.
One aspect of an effective channel strategy is to include solutions to complex inquiries as part of the customer service process. First-contact resolution can drive up satisfaction. But when customers make a second call to resolve the issue, satisfaction drops.
Suppose a customer has to make a third call— in that case, even if you resolve the issue, you’re still destroying or at least damaging the relationship. That is not only a satisfaction issue; it’s also a cost issue for the organization.
There is a financial benefit to prioritizing first contact resolution (FCR) because NPS has a link to increased spending, recommendations, repeat business, and lower churn. It is advantageous for organizations to avoid forcing customers into various channels through either issue complexity or poor service design.
Self-Service Technology vs. Human-Assisted Channels
When customers decide to use the self-service option, they expect a resolution. Failing to meet their base expectation drives down satisfaction. Resolving the issue the first time is great, but failing to do so can have adverse effects.
Satisfaction is your perception of what you got compared to your expectation of what you received. Therefore first-contact solution through self-service doesn’t drive satisfaction as much as human assistance because you’ve only met customer expectations.
What we see is that self-service isn’t a one-and-done. People are going to the self-service more than once to get their answers. Perhaps they don’t understand how to use the app or the web self-service. There is generally a learning curve with self-service technology before customers feel comfortable using it. In any case, only 40% of people found a solution upon first contact through self-service.
Phone and email are still the most popular ways for consumers to interact with customer care. At the same time, there has been a shift away from these traditional channels.
When customers move away from phone and email, they partly choose to use the available self-service technologies. Much of the movement from phone and email is funneling into other human-assisted channels like web chat, asynchronous messaging systems, and video.
Some customers like dealing with a real person. Simply talking to a nice, warm person who’s empathetic and wants to help can increase satisfaction. There isn’t a human element to self-service. So there is no opportunity to manage a person’s perception and impact their satisfaction.
In other words, when customers try to use self-service technology and fail to resolve their issue, they are really unhappy!
The two most preferred customer service channels are still phone and email. Webchat is the fastest growing, and many customers are moving to self-service channels.
For the most part, self-service inquiries are less complex than those seeking help via a human-assisted channel. Only 10% of the people who found a solution through self-service said it was a complicated issue. Whereas one-quarter of respondents who didn’t get a solution said their issue was complex.
Of course, the more intricate a problem is, the more difficult it is to resolve. Organizations can streamline customer service by taking measures to identify complex inquiries upfront. Customers may then connect to the right customer service staff using the appropriate channels.
You can improve NPS and boost customer satisfaction through proper channel planning and design. Doing so helps ensure that customers get a resolution without changing channels or contacting you more than once.
Remember, the channel is a means to an end, not the end in itself. Customers want issue resolution as quickly as possible. Issue resolution drives customer satisfaction, and the closer we get to resolving inquiries upon first contact, the better.
COPC Inc. conducts industry-leading research that informs planning and development strategies. We offer data-driven resources around timely issues affecting contact centers and customer experience that are available as part of our Global Benchmarking Series 2022 (GBS).
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