'Channel shift'; the creation of effective and efficient channels that are most appropriate for the customer and organisation (source Google).
Customers want access to your services in a way that suits them; whether it is in person, phone, email, web chat or via social media. The advance in technology means the customer gets to choose their channel of communication, however, at what point do you consider how appropriate each method of access is for the organisation? You know you have to adapt to channel shift or your customers will, but how do we ensure the experience across the channels is consistent and representative of the brand, whilst still delivering business benefits?
It is a challenge for any organisation to meet customer expectations, but do you know what these are? There is also the balancing of staffing costs to consider; do you have the right agents with the right skills, for each channel, at the right time?
By creating effective and efficient channels that are appropriate for both the customer and the organisation, you can create a superior customer experience every time you are contacted, no matter what the chosen channel is. To get to this point you need to be critical and honest with any new and available channels, while evaluating whether they are appropriate and that you can handle a shift in channels.
Look outwards - start your journey with understanding your customer. Assess how your customers would like to interact with you, they will all have different needs. Are these channels appropriate for your organisation? Look at your customer demographics, volume of contacts, when they contact you and the nature of the contact. Are they complex, repetitive or simple; consider whether any aspect of these can be automated to enhance the customer's experience. Perhaps you have the channels available but the experience is inconsistent from one channel to the other, and perhaps the systems don't 'talk' to each other which leaves your customers frustrated when having to repeat information. Can customers contact you round the clock; is the experience the same at 2pm as it is at 4am?
Then by looking internally, and understanding your internal processes, you will be able to map the customer journey and match it to your processes, while identifying more efficient ways of working. Take the time to experience the processes for yourself and step in to your customers' shoes. The burning question should be, is the experience you received how you would like your customers to feel? If it's not, then you need to consider how you can improve their experience. Simple adjustments like capturing information from the customer whilst they are waiting to connect shortens the call (remember not to ask for the information again!), or simply identifying where human intervention is adding no benefit to the process can focus the attention where it is needed most.
Getting it right can be the difference between happy customers and discontented customers. People take the time to complain but not to praise.
By evaluating what channels your customers want and how appropriate they are to your organisation will give you the opportunity to enhance not only the customers' experience, but also make big differences internally. Ultimately it will result in embracing channel shift for the right reasons, and reaping the benefits of cost savings along the way, including improving processes and having happier staff.