Multichannel Meltdown

Viewpoint: Voice of the Customer

Multichannel Meltdown

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

As consumers, we’re all channel surfers – if one channel doesn’t meet our needs, we try another.  But recently, I had an experience where none of a company’s channels worked for me. 

My sister returned one of my items for repair about 25 miles away. When I got it back, it worked for a while and then quit. Ninety-day service warranty in hand, I called the company to see if I could return it to a location closer to my home. I couldn’t find the number of the service center on the IVR, so I pressed zero. The central contact center agent said that I could bring the item back to any location. When I asked about hours for service centers near me, I heard an audible sigh. She grudgingly gave me the hours for one location.

So, I decided, let’s try the website. It’s a busy screen and I didn’t see a store locator, but there is a link for repair services. I entered my zip – oops – a pop-up said that repair service was down, but I could call them or schedule a callback (but I had tried that already).  I went back to the main page and finally spotted the words Find a Store in tiny, light-colored print at the top right.

I called my local service center, but they discouraged me from bringing the item there and suggested that I bring it to a center 15 miles away. They’d been waiting for repair tags from the parent company for over a month, they told me, and without these tags they can’t send anything out for repair.

Ultimately, I used at least four channels (IVR, contact center, website, service center) before I was able to get my item repaired. And the repair site was at an inconvenient location.

This experience reinforces why it is important for all of us to put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and understand their experiences at key moments of truth.  Look at ads, respond to them, make a purchase and actually try the item. See what it’s like to get warranty service. Map each experience and list all the satisfiers and the dissatisfiers.  

Where are the gaps between your customer contact strategy and the reality of the experience? Are there processes, training, tools, and data you can leverage to meet your goals and increase satisfaction?  Focus on creating not just positive interactions, but better cross-channel experiences.

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Edited by Tammy Wolf