“What’s my balance?” It’s a common question we ask our bank. We want to confirm our daughter’s birthday money was correctly deposited into her savings account. Or we want to know our checking balance so we don’t over spend at the grocery store this afternoon.
Those responsible for the customer experience at banks and credit unions are also pondering this question, but from a different perspective:
- “Are we offering enough ways for our customers to interact with us?”
- “Should we offer voice, text, Web chat, email or something else?”
- “Are the channels we offer the ones our customers want to use?”
- “Do we offer too few channels? And when does it become too much?”
The answers start with looking at how it impacts your business. While new channels bring more choices for how, and sometimes when, customers interact with you, it’s imperative that each new channel is deployed as part of your omnichannel strategy. It’s also important for the channels to complement and adhere to your customer experience goals.
How do you do that? Map out your customers’ personas and channel preferences to the business they would conduct with you via that channel. Only the channels that match both the persona and business function should be considered and further evaluated.
In addition, each new channel can make operations exponentially more complex – from integration to back-end systems and other customer support applications, to upgrades and the ongoing management.
What’s the best approach? Look for all-in-one solutions that can make it easy for your agents, supervisors, administrators and IT. Each new channel also impacts agent recruitment, hiring for all the right skills, training and career-pathing. Make sure HR and your training and quality departments are involved from the beginning, and aren’t simply informed of the coming changes a few weeks before go-live.
So what to deploy next? Several credit union folks have told me they’ve added click-to-chat from their website, social media or speech-enabled IVR for additional self-service. Their deployments were narrow (with chat being placed only on specific Web pages) and served a defined business need (for instance, ability to offer 24/7 self-service beyond standard work hours with the speech IVR). Two big stumbling blocks for them were the underestimated impact on agent skills needed to support these new channels, and the phone agents often needed additional training. In some cases, agents were let go as phone traffic declined in favor of the new channel.
So what does that mean for you? Here are three things to consider if you’re wondering which channels to add next:
- Do you understand your customer demographics well enough to rank which channels they prefer by customer type? Are you able to match channels to specific reasons why the customers are contacting you? Can you show that the new channels are beneficial and necessary?
- Deploying a new channel haphazardly can have a catastrophic effect. We all know how hard it is to keep customers and how easy it is to lose them. It’s critical to involve all effected departments in your deployment – marketing, operations, customer experience team, HR, training and IT.
- Talk with others in and out of your industry about their lessons learned as they deployed new channels. Local chapters and national industry events are great places to find them.
For more information about how to improve your customer experience through new channels, check out Interactive’s white paper: The Customer Experience: the Journey from Good to Great.
Running a contact center is hard work. I know; I’ve run one.
Prior to joining Interactive Intelligence 17 years ago, I managed a technical support contact center for a software company consisting of 11 agents and a supervisor. While it was a small center, we were typical for the time – voice only, measured by the usual KPIs (ASA, talk time, number of calls, number of open tickets per agent, etc.), and running with old, simplistic round-robin UCD technology that provided us just enough to get by.
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