Multichannel customer engagement has been talked about for years now. A quick Google search on the topic yields 275,000+ results. Search for Multichannel Customer Experience or Multichannel Customer Service and you get more than 50,000 results for each.
Why talk about it yet again then?
While not a new trend, seamless multichannel customer experience has continued to be an aspiration that organizations still struggle to achieve. Conceptually, it seems straightforward — consumers have shifted from telephone and email to a variety of channels such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, SMS, WeChat, text messaging, etc. for communicating with their friends and family, and increasingly they want to manage their relationships with brands and businesses over those same channels. In response, organizations have tried to provide alternatives such as mobile apps and built a presence on social channels such as Twitter and Facebook to engage with customers.
However, in most cases, these approaches haven’t led to the desired improvements in customer experience as validated in research by Dimension Data. As mentioned in their 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking report, “The transition towards digital isn’t reaching its full potential. The gap between service delivery and customer expectations is widening.”
Even worse, multichannel customer experiences, in most cases, fell short of single-channel experiences.
Why CX projects have failed to deliver against expectations?
Multichannel customer engagement initiatives have focused largely on channel enablement, trying to tick-off every possible digital channel on the list. Consequently, the experiences designed years ago for the voice channel have been carried forward to the new digital channels, resulting in broken customer experiences.
For example, when you call a business to resolve a service issue, an agent takes your request, logs it into a case management or ticketing system, shares the ticket number with you, says “we’ll get back to you” and moves on to the next customer. Compare it with the experience you get on Twitter or on Facebook and it is hardly any different. Different channel, different interaction model (messaging vs. voice), but same broken experience. Plugging in new channels into existing manual processes and ticketing workflows simply does not go far enough to deliver the slick experiences that consumers expect today.
In fact, it causes customer frustration because customers expect faster responses on messaging apps. As pointed out by the McKinsey report titled ‘Customer experience: Creating value through transforming customer journeys’, “75% of online customers expect help within 5 minutes”. Any delays in answering their queries and resolving their issues can significantly increase churn.
Cutting a long story short, if your multichannel customer engagement strategy essentially results in saying ‘No’ to customers on ten more channels it isn’t going to make any positive difference to the customer experience.
What then is required to make CX projects successful?
What’s really needed is end-to-end automation that can instantly act upon customer messages by automatically identifying customer’s intent, engaging meaningfully, and instantly fulfilling customer requests. Customers expect this sort of instant gratification today.
Let’s take a simple example. Suppose you need to activate an international roaming pack on your mobile phone. The obvious choice is to call your mobile operator, speak with an agent to explain your requirements and select a pack from a list of confusing options. If you miss out noticing any critical details, chances are you will end up selecting the wrong pack and getting overcharged. Almost setting the stage for a subsequent “this isn’t what I was told” conversation. And you don’t have any written proof for what was discussed and with whom.
Compare this with the option of reaching out over your preferred messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. You don’t need to remember any customer helpline number nor do you have to wait on long IVR queues. You type in your message, an NLP enabled chatbot interprets the intent and provides the details of multiple packs with all critical details in an easy-to-understand format. There is no hurry, you can take your own time to go through each of the options, and select your preference. With backend integrations with billing, provisioning and other systems, the request can be acted upon instantly and automatically without any agent intervention. Adequate security and authentication (such as OTP check) can be built right into the customer journey. In addition, in case you wish to chat with a live agent before you make a decision, the conversation can be transferred seamlessly to a live agent.
The entire conversation is automatically logged in a system accessible to both parties for future reference if needed.
For requests that involve physical activities, such as tracking and delivering lost baggage, customers can be kept proactively informed on channels of their choice so they don’t find the need to call for the latest status.
Doesn’t this seem like the much desired and much-needed experience in today’s age?
How do you enable such breakthrough customer experiences?
If the above seems like a multi-year digital transformation project – half of which are abandoned midway – you aren’t alone. However, that isn’t the case.
The emergence of low-code development platforms and advancements in the field of artificial intelligence have made it possible to launch such experiences within weeks and days.
We at IMImobile have been powering such experiences for our customers through our multichannel customer journey automation platform IMIconnect in conjunction with our enterprise chatbot platform IMIbot.ai.
Digital communication channels + automation is a match made in heaven and IMIconnect delivers both out-of-the-box, so you don’t have to say “we will get back to you” on 10 more channels.
Here is a quick 2-minute video that explains how we enable such experiences for our customers.
We would love to hear from you about what your multichannel customer engagement strategy looks like and how you plan to address these challenges. Leave a comment to share your thoughts.
Additionally, sign-up for a free trial of IMIconnect here.