Beyond the phone: shifts in communication patterns provide challenges for businesses in adapting to the new conversation
by integrating communications across departments and channels, businesses can deliver the same experience for customers via print, phone, web or text to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Richard McCrossan, Strategic Business Director at Genesys, explains how businesses can meet the new rule of three customer service requirements – remember me, connect me, help me – demanded by today’s customer.
A recent study by Yankee Group charted the shifts in the use of various customer service channels over a four year period. Interestingly, the figures showed a 22 per cent decline in phone use, starting in 2008, where 67 per cent of customers favoured this form of communication, dropping significantly to just 45 per cent in 2012.
Unsurprisingly, the figures for this year show a steady upward trend in the use of alternative communication channels, where 18 per cent of customers prefer using emails; 15 per cent draw on web self service and IVR respectively, and 6 per cent have turned to chatting online.
Beyond the Phone
Until recently, customer interactions occurred in large part exclusively on the phone and most organisations were efficient at handling interactions within a single channel.
The boom in social media and multi-channel communication has reshaped the way businesses and brands engage with their customers. Communication can no longer be a single channel process – face-to-face or over the phone – it needs to be a proper conversation with context over time. Conversations now take place over multiple touch points from blogs, Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and YouTube, enabling businesses to join a conversation with millions of customers around the globe every day.
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2013, at least 35 per cent of customer service centres will integrate some form of community/social capabilities as part of their contact centre solution.
The customer expects….the magic rule of three
Multi-channel messaging affords customers a greater sense of urgency and immediacy. But it poses a serious challenge to businesses in trying to maintain a consistent customer experience. Businesses must comply with the magic rule of three required by every customer
•Remember me and personalise my experience
•Connect me across channels, and
•Help me through the interaction of empowered employees
An integrated solution for effective, multi-channel communications
The problem is being addressed through a new generation of integrated systems which enable businesses to deliver better multi-channel customer service by offering integrated and cross channel capabilities. For example Genesys Conversation Manager captures information about customers by functioning as a flexible data repository that makes the right data accessible across every communication channel and department.
This allows businesses to manage cross-channel conversations more effectively, to more easily understand the customer conversation and then to act on that understanding. Customers in turn, find that their interactions require less effort, leading to higher levels of satisfaction.
As increasing numbers of customers turn to online and social channels, it is crucial for businesses and organisations to incorporate the right system to manage their communication across these channels. This will enable them to be more efficient, it will bolster staff engagement, drive revenue and lower operational costs; but more importantly, it will ease the complexities of communicating with their most valuable asset – the customer.