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Posted by Eric Klimuk on Nov 30, 2017 7:30:01 AM
Eric Klimuk
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9 Steps Companies Can Take to Improve Multi-Channel Support

As technology improves, the manner in which companies interact with consumers changes in new and unexpected ways. Today, it is the case with companies there are several lines of communications that exist for customers based on what their need to contact the company is. The diagram below shows how some of the many different lines of communication can combine to form multi- channel communication.

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It is important to note the channels described in this graphic are just some of the most common ways in which companies communicate with consumers. Additionally, an increasing number of consumers expect to be able to receive support through the use of mobile applications . Econsultancy conducted a study that found 40% of agency clients in the APAC region receive more than a fourth of e-commerce revenue from mobile applications and almost 10% of these companies receive the majority of their revenue from mobile sources.

The advent of smartphone technology also significantly increased the number of ways in which consumers can communicate with companies. While these increased channels for communication make the communication process much easier for many customers, these multiple channels also pose substantial difficulties for companies.

One of the many challenges presented by multiple channels of communication is consumers often expect a company to respond quickly no matter where or what type of day the consumer voices a complaint. Consumers respond quickly too. A study conducted by Nielsen Mobile found 97% of text messages sent by companies are opened within three minutes by the consumer. As a result, companies often must communicate at what time and on what channel the company will respond to ensure services are available to a consumer.

To provide the best multi-channel support possible, companies must adapt to the best style for their operation. This article will review nine of the most important steps companies should take to improve their multiple channel operation.

Advice #1 - Avoid Technical Words

Many company departments deal with very specific issues often use a very complicated set of technical words. Many consumers who might contact the department, however, are not aware of what these words mean. As a result, it is critical these departments explain issues to consumers in a way that can be easily understood. It should be noted if a customer does understand these words, an employee should use technical words to avoid seeming demeaning or insulting to the consumer. Technical wording is only one type of phrasing customer service workers should avoid using. The below chart lists some of the other particular phrases customer service workers must be careful to avoid.

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This graph emphasizes whatever point of communication is used, customer service workers must avoid speaking to consumers in a condescending manner or tone that attempts to speak down to customers.

Advice #2 - Create Pre-Written Replies

Some departments receive the same types of questions more than several times each day. In these situations, it is understandable for a company to create pre-written replies that can be adapted and personalized when another customer asks this question in the future. It is critical, however, that certain requirements are followed when creating a pre-written reply. First, it is important to use the customer’s name which in many cases can be plugged into a placeholder designated “Sir/Madam”.  It is also important if the consumer speaks a different language the pre-written reply is written in the customer’s native language.

Advice #3 - Understand The Needs of Your Consumer

Many companies are limited in the types of channels they can always offer to consumers, which means a company needs to prioritize what types of channels should be most focused on.

To decide what channels should be prioritized, a company should perform an audit to determine how consumers most prefer to communicate with the business. It can also help to determine the reasons why consumers most often contact the company. For example, consumers who have complicated questions most often benefit by calling a company. Other times, email might be the best possible answer. It is critical for companies to understand there are several needs of consumers that must be satisfied, which include the following:

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These needs manifest in different consumers in different ways and cause them to desire different products. As a result, companies should always select to develop channels that best allow consumers to get in touch with the company. What channels are best depends on many different factors involving a company’s operation. A streamlining process should then be approached for every channel.

Advice #4 - Utilize Employee Strengths

Multiple communication channels give consumers an option about how to respond to a company, but employees at a company are also presented with an increased number of options about how to respond. By understanding how employees best interact with consumers, an employer can maximize the positive parts about how employees handle consumer issues. Not only will consumers likely be happier about how their problem is addressed, employees feel content at their position are likely to stay in their position longer, which creates less turnover for the employer. Many companies are confused about how to identify the best attributes in an employee. The following chart lists seven categories employers should look for to identify an employee’s strengths.

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Once employees with these skills are recognized, companies should focus on dedicating these employees to only the strongest communications channels. Sometimes, companies are able to even eliminate one or two channels because these are not preferred lines of communication by consumers. Reductions like this can help companies free up finances which can be used for other methods. For example, some modern companies have discovered their consumers do not prefer old methods of communication and have refocused these funds on modern trends.

Advice # 5 - Create a Dynamic Online Presence

Today, a large amount of a company’s interaction with its consumers involves its online presenc. There are several ways companies can make sure a powerful online presence is established.

Companies often benefit from creating a strong live chat program. There are several important steps that should be involved in establishing a live chat. First, a company should make sure the consumer immediately knows the name of the representative that is helping them. Services offered through live chat should also proceed quickly because many consumers select this option to avoid the time it takes to contact the company through channels involving the phone. Additionally, it is important the representative interact with the consumer in a clear and direct tone.

It is important companies also properly implement social media strategies because social media is often how consumers find a business. Some companies even decide to make social media a channel through which the company responds to customers. All companies should begin solving these social media obstacles by realizing the many different companies comprise social media. The graph below includes only a handful of the very most common social media sites.

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If a company decides to use social media in this way and learns about the most popular sites to share information among users, the company should realize it is also important to make sure onsumers receive prompt answers to their questions and an appropriate sized staff is used to monitor these issues. There are some important issues to remember when staffing employees. First, representatives can switch between emails and phone calls provided there is a sufficient amount of time to do so. Additionally, company representatives are able to conduct several messenger based communications at the same time.

Advice #6 - Approach Each Channel As A Whole

It is critical a company determines how to exchange information between communication channels. Technology has changed significantly since companies relied exclusively on one line of communication. To understand this communication, it is helpful for a person to contrast the ideas between single and multiple channel communication as depicted in the chart below.

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Today, consumers dislike having to rely on the antiquated notion of communication channel with a company. Consumers also particularly dislike having to switch between channels at companies because this often means the company needs to begin acquiring information from the consumer all over again.

Other companies do not properly distribute information among even the same line, which means a consumer might have to provide the same information to each new representative that comes onto a phone call.

Advice #7 - Create A Centralized Knowledge Base

A knowledge base helps a consumer discover a solution that would have been suggested by another agent. Many consumers prefer to look for answers in a knowledge base before directly contacting a company. While there are numerous questions that must be answered by a knowledge base, some of the most common questions involve the elements depicted in the following graph.

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At the very least, a knowledge base should answer the “who, what, where, and when” questions attached to a product. In addition to aiding consumers, a knowledge base can help to provide company representatives with information.

New employees can also learn a great deal of information about a company’s product by reading the articles in a knowledge base.

Advice # 8 - Do Not Underestimate The Value of Email

It is important companies not underestimate the value of email, which in many cases is still a very effective channel even though it is not the most technologically sophisticated. Even though email is not cutting edge technology, Econsultancy reports a large number of medium companies still lack the technical skills to handle their email channel. While the actual process is infinitely more complex, the below graph explains the tripartite structure of how email works.

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When companies grow to appreciate how email works, companies start to learn how various marketing tools can leverage how recipients obtain email.

It is also critical companies promptly respond to concerns that consumers have even if the consumer sends an email. If companies do not promptly response (or do not respond at all) to emails sent by consumers, there is a substantial risk that a consumer will decide to obtain the services of another company.

Advice # 9 - Utilize Technology

When companies consider managing multiple lines and quickly responding to customers on each of these, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, technology has helped to resolve many obstacles encountered by companies. Automation particularly has helped many companies successfully handle multiple lines of communication.

The most modern technology allows marketing teams to learn about all important information about each line of communication from a single computer screen. This type of coordinated effort gives companies an advantage over their competitors. Research conducted by CMO by Adobe found that only 14% of companies are operating this type of focused effort. Many experts have recognized this type of communication management is actually omnichannel management as compared to multiple channel management. The graph below explains the difference between these two ideas.

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Omni channel management is enormously beneficial for many companies, which automation has made accessible. In helping customer services and marketing teams automate an amount of multiple line management, technology has allowed these departments to spend additional time focusing on how to better develop relationships with customers.

In developing these relationships, technology allows companies to gather data from each line of communications. This data can then be analyzed to determine both the strengths and weakness in each one of a company’s lines of communication.

Understand A Company’s Existing Lines of Communication

Any steps taken to strengthen a company’s existing lines of communication should begin with analyzing what the company’s current lines of communications are and how effectively these channels are working. Some companies with social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter are sometimes not even aware this online presence could potentially be a type of communication channel.

After establishing the nature of a company’s current lines of communications, it is important to then begin making sure these channels are effectively used. While technology can be very important in utilizing lines of communication, it is pivotal for companies to understand the current line of communication is not always the best.

The ultimate benefit of improving lines of communication is a company ultimately becomes able to work on increasing the level of customer satisfaction. Improved customer satisfaction directly results in increased sales because new customers are attracted to a company due to word of mouth and previous customers are retained because these returning consumers are happy about their relationship with the company.