Customer service is still as important as ever, but the nature of it has changed. These days, most customers prefer to find the products and services they want and purchase them through web self-service, as opposed to devoting the extra time and hassle often involved in having to go through a customer service agent. That said, live customer service agents are still very much needed to support customers, but companies need to properly combine them with other customer support channels, such as web self-service and virtual agents.
Multichannel customer service has become very popular over recent years, and if you want to give the customer what they want, it is probably a good idea to implement multichannel customer service at your business if you haven’t yet. Multichannel customer service also saves companies a lot of money when it is able to resolve issues that otherwise would require a live person. It is important, however, to make sure that customer support channels are implemented properly.
Hiring the Right Customer Service Agents
Most customers prefer to complete their purchases on their own. So if they do find the need to move past other customer support channels and speak with a customer service agent, they are looking for a fast and efficient problem solver that has room to be creative in finding a solution to their problem. With the nature of customer service as it is today, it is best to hire and train agents that can be independent and accomplish as much as possible on their own without having to consult a superior in the process. Also, when dealing with multichannel customer service, it’s important to hire customer service agents with information technology knowledge and a certain level of patience that can explain to customers in simple terms how to navigate the other customer support channels.
Ensuring a Smooth Transition Between Customer Support Channels
When using multichannel customer service, many customers will escalate to a customer service agent only after they fail with the other customer support channels. In their article Minimize the Need for Customer Service to Improve the Omnichannel UX, American computer user interface and user experience consulting firm the Nielsen Norman Group identifies four service situations that cause customers to escalate from other customer support channels to live agents. They are as follows:
- Service problems – when there is an issue with a product such as damaged merchandise
- Roadblocks – when something comes up in the middle of a transaction that makes it impossible or too difficult to be completed on the customer’s support channel of choice
- Misleading or confusing information – information is missing at some point in the buying process
- Perception of complexity – the transaction seems too complicated to be completed through self-service and the customer feels more comfortable working one on one with a service agent
To ensure customer satisfaction using multichannel customer service, it is important that software is integrated properly so that customers can easily transition from one customer support channel to another. For example, if they are using a virtual agent and they require more assistance, they should be immediately prompted to connect to live chat or the call center to speak with a customer service agent.
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Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.