Multichannel Customer Service: Why You Need It
The public has developed the ability to be in several places at once and each has their own preferences. Hence, the importance of multichannel customer service.
This has been a maxim since the dawn of trade: be where your customer is and adapt to their habits. Customer service is no exception to this rule.
In this post, we’ll look at this important strategic issue and reflect on how your phone line, support email and resources such as live chat or social networks should be coordinated in your business.
What is multichannel customer service?
As its name implies, it’s about using multiple channels to manage customer service. Today, there are so many ways to reach out to a business — publicly or privately, over the phone or online. Never before has the customer had so many resources.
There are two different types of channels we can differentiate between.
These are the ones the business oversees themselves so that customers can contact the support team.
This includes the telephone line, the live chat operated by people, chatbots, messaging services, web forms and email addresses.
Each one has its own characteristics: some are live, others have a longer response time such as chat, others are automatic or even independent. But their main feature is that they are channels for private interactions.
They exist within the business’ ecosystem, so the customer speaks (or writes) directly to your team. This is advantageous since any incidents will not be made public, so it’s more discreet.
Broad-spectrum public channels
Here we have digital platforms such as social networks (although not only these, as we’ll see below).
These include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok or any other existing or upcoming social media sites. It’s important to note that you don’t need to have your own profile for interactions to take place with your brand at the centre.
While you can skip these networks if you want, this isn’t the best idea. Unlike the other channels, social media is public and therefore any complaints can damage the brand’s reputation, especially if the public feels your customer service team is abandoning buyers.
Keep in mind that people increasingly research and compare online during the consideration phase. The social proof you gain from social media comments and — this is the second part we alluded to at the beginning — reviews on sites such as directories and Google My Business, is a decisive factor.
How to leverage your multichannels in customer service
It is important to provide a multichannel customer service for several reasons, some of which follow on from what we’ve already discussed so far. Now let’s look at how to use them strategically.
#1 – Responding to each person in their own channel
People’s preferences in this regard are very clear. Some people need to talk on the phone to feel heard, whereas others will avoid phone calls at all costs, but still want to be attended to in real time.
This is one of the reasons you need several channels, which can be complementary. Telephone and chat provide different solutions, but both resolve situations adequately.
#2 – Optimising resources
There is a widely held belief that personal service is always better. However, it also uses up the most resources and, moreover, it’s not always essential.
Again, this is about coordinating channels and, to some extent, automating them. An agent answering the same question for the umpteenth time misses out on the chance to help someone else who may have a complex query. That’s why having a knowledge base with frequently asked questions and/or, better yet, a chatbot in your e‑commerce store or Facebook chat, is a good way to filter and resolve.
#3 – Going from public to private
Usually, apart from with postal mail, users expect to be answered via the same method they used to get in touch. However, there are private matters that are a bit more delicate.
For example, if someone mentions your business on Twitter and is frustrated with an issue they’ve experienced, try to redirect the situation by referring them to a channel where there isn’t as much visibility.
While some people will want to make as much noise as possible, if you interact quickly, humbly and resolutely, most users understand that taking the matter to a private channel protects their privacy. If you do things properly, you’ll send the right message to anyone seeing your interactions.
People looking for likes or “public vengeance”, especially when they’re being unreasonable, end up losing their legitimacy.
As you can see, multichannel customer service is worth it for a plethora of reasons. Get it right, and the benefits will be endless.