Series: Contact center planning

Multichannel customer service


When considering new contact center technology, it is usually a high priority to add new contact channels or use the ones you already have because:

  • Customers want to communicate with your organization using their preferred channel.
  • Multichannel offerings have become a competitive differentiator, enabling companies to expand the demographic and customer base.
  • Multichannel customer service supports blended and simultaneous interactions, which drives higher levels of agent and contact center productivity and efficiency.

Many contact centers evolved from “call only” into multichannel operations. Multichannel operations plan for and handle various contact channels, including emails, chat, SMS, video, social media, and proactive outbound dialing.

While multichannel servicing increases agent productivity and customer satisfaction, it also creates operational complexity. Training, performance management, measurement, quality, and forecasting and scheduling become exponentially more difficult with every channel you add to the contact center.

Questions

Discuss the following questions with your team:

  • Do you offer channels your customers want and use? How can you gather information about your customer’s desired channels – and their satisfaction with your current channel lineup?
  • Implementing new channels requires planning. Manage each channel in your contact center with equal discipline. Treat each new implementation as a unique project. Have you prepared effective training, staffing, metrics, and reporting to ensure that agents have the proper tools to support that channel?
  • Not all agents are skilled or trained for all channels. Agents who excel at voice communication might not have the written communications skills to respond successfully to emails and chats. Agents who successfully handle email might not have the right skills for the abbreviated, conversational communications social media interactions require. How do you determine the skills required for each channel? And how do you identify whether agents possess those skills? Do you train for them – or hire for them?
  • What is the impact of a new channel on your overall contact volume? It might not be as simple as predicting that a new channel will reduce contacts in other channels. For example, adding email to your channel offerings might not reduce a “like” amount of interactions combined from the chat channel. Carefully examine all your assumptions.

Actions

Take the following actions before moving forward in the planning phase:

Preparation Assigned to Complete date

Document an overview of existing channels.

  • What is the overall distribution of contacts across all channels?
  • Are you meeting your objectives in each channel? If not, why?
  • What’s working? What are the pain points?
  • Where are gaps in service delivery for existing channels?

Validate the need for a new channel.

  • What do you hope to accomplish with the addition of this channel?
  • Why are you adding the channel? Responding to customer demand? Seeking to increase agent productivity?
  • What are the resources – people and technology – will successfully implement the new channel?

Define a rollout plan.

  • What are your objectives? And how do you measure success?
  • Will you initially implement a pilot or a full rollout? What are the risks and benefits associated with your selected approach?
  • How will this new channel fit into the existing channel line up? Do you expect to offload contacts from other channels?
  • What skill sets do agents require? Do those skills exist in the current agent pool? If not, should you hire new agents or train existing agents?
  • What are the reporting requirements for the new channel?

 


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