Changing Lanes to Win More Customers
Why you need more than a phone number and email address
While having a regular postal address, phone, fax and email has been the standard for multi channel communications for years – it isn't enough. Most customers don't have the time to phone, don't own a fax machine, want a faster response than a letter and don't want to wait for an email. Sites that are effectively engaging their consumers are providing them with multiple options for immediate contact that can be accessed on a range of devices. These options include live chat, SMS messaging, and social media.
Live customer service remains the key
All this new electronic communication is great, but don’t throw away the call center just yet. There are still a larger number who prefer to call. Plus many non-voice channel customers will face issues that require a call to resolve. A live call can also be a great part of building brand loyalty and connectivity with an organization, so strategically speaking to consumers is part of a solid marketing strategy.
Today the best model of consumer service is when all of these channels are connected to live customer service with a view of all the customer touch points (View our blog on Multi vs Omni). This is one reason many companies are outsourcing their customer contact management; it enables them to meet the new customer expectations for communication without having to keep up with all the changes in-house Plus they can often control the cost through outsourcing.
Engagement with live chat
Live chat can be added to your websites, and even on mobile devices using streaming video or simple text exchanges. The consumer’s ability to know they can ask a question immediately not only improves customer retention, it boosts the perception of your brand. Used effectively, live chat can also reduce non-essential service calls to your phone lines by answering questions online. This method of communication is highly preferred by baby boomers and older generations. It is fast and digitally based, but does not require high computer skills.
SMS can be an important form of communication
SMS, the text message, is usually thought of as a marketing tool, but can also be a very effective form of multi channel communication. You can issue text codes for customers that alert a customer representative to an issue the company will then respond to via a phone call or email. You can even use the same phone number for voice and text.
SMS can also be effective for general questions too. Many of the typical FAQ responses can be automated or selected from a template to speed response time. If you want to grow your millennial base, SMS is often the way to go as the phone is often their lifeline.
Using social media effectively
Social media interactions with customers is growing among those 35 and older. Don't expect to get likes and shares as much as providing a way to deal with questions and complaints. This is a very public forum that must be monitored to add the most to your image and reputation. Always assume that for every one public message you are responding too, there are 20 people watching to see how you handle the communication. These more open forums of communication are different from your more traditional channels. Many organizations find it is easiest to outsource social moderation first before bringing into a dedicated center.
If you are responsible for customer communication in your organization, make sure to stay up to date with the changes. Subscribe to blogs and feeds on the topic, join groups and attend conferences to keep your company in play and avoid bad publicity. Work with your marketing team or outsource provider to get the most benefit from these channels. Contact us to review your strategy and see how we can help Share what has worked for you.