The interaction between businesses and consumers has completely changed, due to the increase in mobile usage and the rise in digital.
For resource providers such as contact centres, this means the evolution of support channels and expansion of service offerings.
The traditional channels such as phone and email are no longer efficient enough to stand alone. Agents need tools that enable them to deal with multiple queries at the same time, which is something that simply can’t be accomplished solely via conventional channels.
To gain competitive advantage, it is imperative to assemble a good mix of service channels both offline and online. In 2017, Forrester research showed that 95% of customers use three or more channels to connect with companies, with 62% use more than one device.
For customer service departments and contact centres, this has meant a massive shift towards adopting new channels such as video, chat, SMS and social media.
Currently, 96% of contact centres support voice, 93.6% email and 62% web chat. SMS integrations are also popular.
To meet the growing demand for omnichannel, 25.3% of contact centres are now looking to introduce automated voice, 32.3% web chat, and nearly 28.5% Twitter over the next five years.
Omni-channel vs multichannel
It’s safe to say that single channel support is a thing of the past. That’s why terms such as “multichannel” and “omnichannel” have emerged over recent years.
The difference between the two is that, multichannel support focuses on providing various channels for customers to interact with, whereas omnichannel strategies bring all these channels together into a seamless customer journey. The latter one takes things a step further and makes sure that channels work together in unison.
The key here is that whatever strategy you implement, expanding customer support capabilities is guaranteed to create more value for all stakeholders - your business, agents, and customers.
To convince you further, we listed the main benefits of implementing new customer support channels:
1. Better customer engagement
It’s simple - the more successfully you are able to adapt to customers’ channel-hopping preferences the better your customer engagement will be.
This is important, in particular for the Millennial consumers, who switch devices frequently within a very short space of time - from laptop to mobile to tablet.
It’s essential to remember that each channel has its own place and function.
Sometimes calling a customer service might still be the fastest way to sort out something and the good thing about email is that it reduces geographic and time zone barriers.
Customers expect to be able to communicate via any of the service channels and receive the same level of service regardless of the channel.
2. Provide real-time customer support
Using multiple channels makes it possible to provide immediate answers.
In today’s digital world, businesses are expected to provide real-time customer support and deliver information quicker than ever before.
Consumers want answers and they want them now - in fact, 73% of customers say that in order to provide a good service, valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do.
3. Increase agent efficiency and reduce costs
The motivation of agents and mental stamina is key. When agents perform well, so does your business - it’s not rocket science! And let’s face it, the nature of customer service and contact centre work can be very demanding and keeping performance at a high level can be challenging especially with limited tools.
With a typical offline channel such as phone, agents can only really deal with one customer at one time.
However, service agents using multiple channels transforms the operation from one-at-a-time processing to taking care of many tickets simultaneously. With chat for example, it is possible to handle 3 to 7 tickets at the same time.
This enables customer service to solve tickets quicker and, also cuts costs as fewer callbacks are required.
4. Provide proactive customer support
Customer behaviour has evolved, so much so that customer service can no longer operate just as a “reactive” function. On the contrary, it needs to be proactive and be initiated intuitively online at the precise moment the customer needs help.
77% of global consumers have a more favourable view of brands that offer proactive customer service alerts and notifications.
Targeting your support channels, like your FAQ chatbot or live chat service on your website with rule-based triggers enables you to provide support at the right time, when your customer need it the most.
Read more about how to boost your customer service channels in our guide to customer service efficiency.