Accepting that all channel shift projects need to deliver on a business case and meet customer /resident needs we have designed a series of blogs, based on discussions with participants at the Public Sector Customer Service Forums (PSCSF), to offer alternative decision frameworks. You can combine their use or 'pick and mix' the tools as they suit your circumstances.
Previously we suggested that there were four tools that you should keep in your tool kit which would enable you to understand the customer journey, consider efficiency and process redesign and ensure that channel changes positively impact accessibility while delivering value for both parties.
In this article, we consider the impact complexity, cost and reassurance have as another method of refining decisions and tactics.
Complexity and the need for a staged process
Discussions during the forum confirmed that customer service managers are in agreement that there are three broad customer task categories; routine (easy to do), those needing support (tasks where some aspects need help from an advisor) and complex (tasks that need skilled input from an advisor).
Routine tasks are those where actions are specific and repetitive, required answers / outcomes are clearly classified and typically staff believe they add little value, for example an address change or balance enquiry.
As customer service professionals analyse total workflow these routine tasks are the first to be appropriately automated, and this frees staff to support more complex enquires while simultaneously raising their morale.
The other two task types 'supported' and 'complex' are likely to need a staged process or triage. The advisors will question and determine urgency and severity before they can provide customers with appropriate support.
A supported task may utilise channel slide or moving between channels, which you can offer a 'helping hand' as part of the process it provides constructive support and is an opportunity to teach customers to be more self-sufficient on digital. For example: web chat support of a customer stuck during an online form completion session then empowers the customer to complete the form and they return to the website for future transactions.
Gaining cost and customer effective resolution for complex interactions typically needs personalised attention, for example a benefits or universal credit assessment. While the initial transaction costs may seem high, investing in the needed support at first contact, to ensure complex forms are correctly completed or detailed regulation or similar feedback is provided, will ultimately result in the lowest possible cost per transaction.
Transaction cost versus a customer's need for reassurance
The impact of the transaction outcome on the life circumstances of the customer will affect their need for reassurance from an agent or even the manager, for example, social support payments will be pivotal to a family. (Thank you to Kirklees Council for sharing their insight into this method.)
Once tasks are categorised for example, into routine, supported and complex, their 'emotional' or reassurance quotient can be assigned. It cannot automatically be assumed that all complex tasks require high reassurance. Supporting customers who require high reassurance becomes costly if the path to rapid contact resolution is not effectively mapped.
Automated proactive outbound follow-up messages via SMS, email or automated voice detailing progress, will avoid inbound requests and deliver reassurance while managing customer expectations.
Considering the correct channel for any transaction requires clear thinking and a sincere understanding of the implications that the transaction will have on the life circumstances of the customer.
We offer these concepts as a method to focus necessary attention on the case for change factors to consider in any channel shift project to deliver business benefit and customer outcome.
In the next blog we consider the role and impact of balancing any decisions against the 'metrics that matter' to your organisation.
Refresh your thinking on the four tools in your tool kit in the article 'design a digital and multichannel strategy by evaluating transactions and choosing channels'.