The birth of online shopping occurred in 1994 when one customer made history by purchasing a CD via the Internet. Just one year later, Amazon debuted. Today, as online shopping’s popularity grows, so do the ways in which consumers communicate with companies. As a result, digital channels have become a natural part of the customer journey. In fact, digital channel interactions are expected to overtake voice interactions for the first time this year. Between web, email, chat and social media, the customer journey is much more nuanced than it was two decades ago as it’s evolved to accommodate changing customer preferences.
While it’s obvious digital self-service options are a requirement for today’s consumers, businesses aren’t offering up a consistent customer experience across them. A new report uncovered internal processes are derailing the promises made to customers because companies aren’t enacting strong omnichannel strategies before deploying new self-service channels. Without proper strategies in place, the customer experience becomes a fragmented and frustrating journey—and business suffers.
In the midst of the channel explosion, there are three questions marketing and customer experience professionals should ask themselves to ensure their businesses are set up for omnichannel success.
Is Our Company Proactive About Meeting and Exceeding Customer Expectations?
Customer service agents have hundreds of conversations across channels every day, and all of the data from these interactions comes directly into the contact center. But, without being proactive about analyzing the information at their fingertips, businesses may be missing critical cross-channel insights. In fact, 44 percent of marketing and customer experience professionals say they offer four or more channels to communicate with their brand; however, 58 percent admit they think their customers only use two or three.
Customer expectations change constantly and without analyzing interaction data across all channels, companies might be wasting time and money. For businesses to stay on top of consumer preferences, they must go beyond capturing voice-of-the-customer insights and examine that information to make decisions that drive positive change.
Is Our Business Infrastructure Set up to Integrate and Analyze New Data Sources?
Adding a customer channel is straightforward––58 percent of companies say they have a set process to follow and find it easy. However, easy implementation creates a risk of adding touchpoints without first having a strategy in place. While the majority of contact centers measure quality assurance (QA) in phone conversations, they don’t apply traditional voice metrics to new channels. As a result, key insights from digital channels are untapped, and companies are left with an incomplete view of the customer.
Businesses must implement QA tactics to each new customer communication method they add. Doing so means having insights into which channels are the most successful, when additional support might be needed and where customers are interacting with them the most. With this infrastructure and strategy in place, companies can add new channels and effectively analyze all of the data coming into the contact center. And, with analytics, scaling QA across all channels is possible to ensure 100 percent of customer conversations are analyzed.
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Are We Adapting Our Training and Recruiting Practices to Support New Complex Digital Channels?
Providing a consistent experience doesn’t mean deploying the same practices across channels. Each channel requires a specific set of skills and training in order to deliver the best possible customer experience. Yet, many companies aren’t adapting channel-specific onboarding strategies––only 55 percent of U.S. companies have changed the way they hire customer service staff to manage the increased number of touchpoints.
To provide a tailored experience, businesses must set up their agents for success with channel-specific training and tools. This starts with hiring the right person for the right channel, then training for the experience customers expect from that channel. From there, companies should equip agents with the right customer data so they can create a more personalized shopping experience.. With the right skillsets for each channel in place, companies can adapt the hiring, forecasting and training practices that keeps customers (and agents) coming back.
Consistency is key for today’s companies to champion the customer experience. A shopper may place an order online, email the company to check on the status of the purchase and ask a question via chat about the product once it arrives––that’s three digital interactions for one purchase. With analytics, companies can determine channel-specific needs, establish a strong internal framework and modify hiring and training practices, to build the right omnichannel customer experience every time.