The How-Tos Of Multichannel Customer Service (Social Channels, Too)

Kate Leggett
Vice President, Principal Analyst
September 13, 2010

One of the pillars of crafting an “ideal customer service experience” is to offer a consistent service experience across the communication channels that you support. So what does this mean for the service manager who needs to think about this problem from a pragmatic perspective? It means that:

  • Service agents must have access to the customer history across all interaction channels for a full view of the customer.
  • Service agents must use the same processes and have access to the same knowledge so that the service resolution process is the same regardless of channel.

To get there, service managers often start by asking, “What channels make sense to deploy?” This is a hard question, and an increasingly important one given the pressure today to deploy social channels. There is no single right answer — the answer depends on your customer demographics, the types of issues that your customer service agents field, and overall cost of managing channels effectively. What you should think about doing is:

  1. Understand your customer base and their channel preference (traditional and social).
  2. Assess the types of inquiries that you receive and map them to channels that can best support them — for example, Web self-service is best for simple informational requests, and complex troubleshooting should be handled via a real-time channel such as chat or the phone. Think about corner cases, too — such as understanding data privacy requirements that may affect your channel mapping matrix.
  3. Map out a channel rollout strategy (and this includes your social channels): determine the order that channels will be implemented. Ensure that your agent pool is staffed and trained to support new channels. Make sure that your customer service ecosystem is architected in such a way that all channels access the same view of the customer.
  4. Figure out your knowledge strategy across your channels — so that you have the same “source of truth” across channels.
  5. Standardize customer service processes across channels (e.g., if you create a case for an email inquiry, do the same for an inquiry coming over Twitter. If you ask for an account number at step 2 of a call script, do so for a chat session).
  6. Monitor how well you do. One great way to do this is to “mystery shop” your site and compare your results to how well you think you are doing and how well you are doing against your competitors.

Makes sense? Your thoughts, please.

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