Call Center On Demand Featured Articles

Companies Overwhelmed Keeping Up with Customers' Multichannel Expectations

June 18, 2014

By Tracey E. Schelmetic,
TMCnet Contributor

Companies today face something of a conundrum. Servicing customers is expensive and always has been. But it’s about more than telephone today. Companies are beginning to understand the importance of ensuring that customers can reach them not only via telephone, but also through additional channels such as social media, mobile app, email, chat and self-service channels. It’s taken what was already a complex and difficult task and exploded it, creating new obstacles to customer care excellence.

The stakes are high for offering a variety of channels. According to a recent survey by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and highlighted in a blog by cloud contact center solutions provider Five9 (News - Alert), 86 percent of consumers said that they would be more satisfied if offered their channel of preference and half would move to a competitor that did offer their preferred channel.

So what are customers’ channels of preference today? While telephone and e-mail remain popular, more and more customers are heading for newer channels. The study found that 58 percent of customers report having used Facebook for customer service, and 42 percent have used Twitter (News - Alert) for the same purpose. Likewise, among companies that do offer social customer service, higher customer satisfaction is reported by 61 percent of organizations that offer social customer care.

Businesses are starting to get it: 68 percent of businesses today say they think social is a necessary service channel, and 55 percent say offering social customer service is an important differentiator in a competitive environment. Fully 58 percent of businesses that often social customer care say it improves customer loyalty.

But awareness doesn’t necessarily lead to action. A minority of organizations are effectively using social customer care. Inflexible legacy contact center platforms are preventing true multichannel integration, which makes social media monitoring and response nearly impossible. Among organizations that do offer social and mobile customer care, agents are often overwhelmed with the enormity of keeping up with their tasks. The sheer volume of incoming requests, especially from social posts and e-mail, can overload agent queues and result in slow response times.

The ideal option is a solution that is natively designed to include channels such as social and mobile right into the heart of the contact center process, allowing these channels to be handled like a phone call or e-mail without switching applications, says Five9. (The company will be sponsoring a Webinar on this topic on Wednesday, June 18). This way, customer queries, regardless of channel, can be handled in a centralized way, with analytics to help categorize and distribute the contacts. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi