Meeting Customers Needs in a Multi Channel World

Earlier this month an industry roundtable was held on a topic that is on the priority list of many customer care professionals: the management of  the multi channel contact center.  The roundtable,“Meeting Customer Needs in a Multi Channel World”, focused on fast growing customer utilization of non voice customer contact points such as email, the web, chat, SMS, social networking.   The increased usage of these contact points is having a significant impact on resource allocation and skills development, and has lead to challenges that are organizational as well as operational. 

The discussion was moderated by Don Van Doren, Principal, and Unicom Consulting. Panelists from Altitude Software, SAP, and Siemens Communications contributed significantly by responding to questions posed to them by the moderator and the audience.   A variety of issues such as establishing appropriate service levels and measuring the quality the of customer experience for the various contact points In a multi channel contact center as well as  integrating  current contact points with social media such as Twitter were discussed.  

The panelists were in agreement on many issues:

– The management of the various channels should fall within the contact center.

– The customer experience needs to be consistent across all channels.    One channel, i.e. voice, should not be favored over other contact points such as email.    Prioritization should be based on the type and history of the customer.

– The various contact points need to be integrated into the contact center as a universal queue.    The definition of a transaction should include the various contact points the customer touches during a transaction.

– Integration of the various contact points is only way to get a 360 degree view of the customer.

– The customer’s technology should be able to accommodate processes to manage t he various contact points.

– The management of written forms/correspondence (document management) should also be considered a contact channel.
–  Universal agents are critical to optimizing the efficiency of the multi channel contact center.   There are significant productivity gains when utilizing multi skilled agents.  

– Small contact centers who operate 24×7 should consider using outsourcing to provide off hours support.

–  Customers should consider using software that can do key word searches of various social media activity to keep up to date on the comments that affect their company.  It is important to stay ahead of the viral curve. 
       
The recorded event is found on CRMXchange at www.crmxchange.com/debate.multichannel.dec09.asp

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