Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Adding Customer Service to a Multi-Channel Equation

While marketers rush to embrace multi-channel marketing and shopping options, they often neglect to back up efforts with equally seamless multi-channel customer service. Common reasons for poor service rankings include being forced to repeat information, having to wait too long for service, and staff lacking knowledge of customer history -- all results common to disjointed multi-channel customer support. A recent Business2Community post by Flavio Martins,VP of Customer Support at DigiCert, Inc., gave advice on how to unite channels for an effective back-end system. Start with mobile. Is a custom app enough? Not if the app offers one-way engagement, allowing for browsing, account checks and purchasing but forcing exit to make a phone call or send an e-mail, argues Martins. Truly customer-centric apps will include an option to call or instant-message directly and will provide the service team with important customer data. Don't forget the traditional call center; a live phone conversation is still considered essential by many, especially in the case of complex issues. It's great to have a website encourage live web chat during checkout, but chat is not always a substitute for a phone conversation, so always offer a phone number for online users. E-mail is a popular communication tool, but customers often complain of delayed or absent response to e-mails. In fact, a study of American small- to medium-sized businesses found that 51% of e-mails never got a response, Martins points out. And if an e-mail requires a phone response, make sure the customer service agent knows the online conversation to avoid a maze of disjointed e-mails and chatter, he urges. How about social media? It's a great place to engage with customers once marketers realize the PR potential: Although complaints are visible to all, so are outstanding support and service! Finally, integration of online and in-store support is a basic, with services like "Click and Collect" and "Buy Online and Return In-Store" promoting channel mixing. For the complete article, see http://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/multi-channel-shopping-means-multi-channel-customer-service-0708071

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