When delivering an effective customer experience (CX), one of the key factors is choosing the right contact channels. Brands must consider how they can effectively resolve different customer issues, while maintaining high levels of satisfaction.
Today, many companies are taking stock of the changes experienced over the past 18 months and working out where they go next with their Customer Service. As new trends, technologies, capabilities, and customer preferences are identified, they must revisit their choice of channels to support customers if they want to stay relevant.
While they ensure they are offering the right channels to customers, brands must also be sure that new channels introduced help deliver the right CX.
Introducing new channels, and getting them right, requires a relatively high level of investment to acquire, configure and deploy the technology that powers the process. For example, to introduce Twitter messaging, it’s not simply logging into Twitter as an individual would do. The platform is needed to manage high volumes of incoming tweets and allocate them into queues to be handled effectively and efficiently by customer service (CS) colleagues working through the queries.
And that’s where the balancing act comes in.
What are the best types of channels for different types of interactions?
The best channels will depend on the brand and the type of consumer interactions handled.
For queries that are technical, or sensitive, or urgent, voice is usually the best channel. This is generally the most effective and satisfying channel from a customer perspective.
It’s important to note, however, that voice support can be difficult to provide efficiently. Customers dislike long waiting times, for example, which can have a negative impact on CX.
In terms of customer satisfaction, chat comes close. Like voice, it is immediate. The customer knows there is a person on the other end of the conversation and, unlike voice, CS colleagues can multi-task, dealing with another chat as they wait for a customer response.
However, with the written word, it’s not easy to pick up emotion, tone of voice, etc. This makes it a little challenging for emotional or highly sensitive issues.
While email has the one-on-one feel that voice and chat offer, it is not instant. This means it is best used for simple communications and ones that do not require too many steps. When dealing with technical issues, email may be slow as each step in the resolution requires a new exchange, and these could be hours or even days apart.
Email is often the least satisfactory customer service channel and may be the most costly if interactions require more than one or two exchanges.
- Social networks
This channel is most effective for one to many broadcasts, such as update on technical issues affecting a lot of users, network down time, etc. It is not ideal for one-to-one conversations, technical or complex queries where a lot of detail is exchanged but helpful where an answer in relatively few characters or by sharing a link is possible.
How does a brand choose what is best for them?
Typically, a combination of three channels is needed to offer a comprehensive, well-balanced CX that covers a broad variety of interactions.
When choosing the right contact channels, brands should consider:
- What is the best way to reach a lot of people quickly, through broadcasts and announcements?
- How best to conduct one-to-one conversations efficiently?
- How should highly sensitive, technical, or emotional subjects be handled?
Brands must review channels regularly to ensure they are still using a relevant combination to deliver the best overall experience. This must involve careful analysis of data to understand how customers use what’s available, where there are challenges, and how the process could be streamlined for better results.