Choice Matters: The Importance of Multi-channel Customer Support

In order to transform your customer service and meet customer expectations, companies must  support varying channels of communication 

We live in an on-demand, frictionless society in which we expect anything delivered any time, anywhere. Receiving resolutions to our customer service issues is no different than getting caught up on the daily news. The expectation is for 24/7 access across multiple channels.

Over the past few years, customer service has emerged as a major point of differentiation for companies of all sizes. The payoff for great service is huge – in terms of revenue, retention and reputation.

  • 16%: Premium people will pay when accompanied by good customer experiences
  • 95%: Say customer service plays into brand loyalty
  • 33%: Switch companies after 1 instance of poor customer service

Core to a good experience is offering your customers choice. Choice for the channels on which they receive support and choice on when they are able to get problems resolved.  There are a growing number of traditional, digital and futuristic (hello, Alexa) channels where people expect to be able to get a question answered or a problem resolved. Providing quick, convenient support experiences on the channels your customers prefer is key to great support. 

It’s no longer enough to be readily available on one or two channels, staffing agents to answer phones during limited business hours. The expectation is for 24/7, low-effort support on the channels of choice. Companies are not doing this today: Less than half of consumers find any customer service channel easy to use.  

Today’s crucial customer support channels 

Focus on making your customers happy by making them feel appreciated and listened to. Here are the primary channels where support is expected today: 

Circumstances change, and channel preferences are fluid 

Customers don’t usually have a single channel that they prefer 100% of the time. For a general question about a return policy, they might prefer a self-service website portal, while a more urgent matter better be suited for email or live chat. For some customers, a refund request might be best suited for email, while a complaint is sent in between chats with friends on a messaging platform.   

For every customer, the situation, their situational context, the urgency of a resolution and the nature of the issue directly changes their preferences for how they get in touch. It’s not just younger consumers who seamlessly flow between channels: there is an undeniable shift across age groups adopting more channels. Omni-channel is here to stay. 

Bring Humans and AI together, in union, across every channel 

It’s not just enough to offer support on these channels, you also have to provide personal support instantaneously. Consider this: 32% of people expect a response within 30 minutes on messaging platforms, and  57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours. [To learn about specific response time expectations by channel, check out Hubspot’s blog here]. 

Most companies cannot afford to staff human agents round-the-clock, across every channel. It’s simply cost-prohibitive. Companies need to deploy AI across channels to act as the first line of defense – solving repeatable queries autonomously, while escalating complex issues to human agents. While some companies are weary about AI, “45% of consumers don’t care who they interact with — live agent or chatbot — as long as the service is effective, accurate, and handled quickly.

A human and machine team effort is the only way to scale personal support across multiple channels without multiplying the current resource allocation to customer service. With customer service now directly impacting buying decisions and building loyalty, it’s essential that companies meet demands for convenient, cross-channel support. 

Celebrate each channel’s differences, and adapt your service accordingly 

The interaction needs to be adapted to fit each channel. Messaging and chat, for instance, are less formal, more conversational and expected to be immediate. Long-form sentences are hard to read in a chat environment, while short-form and abbreviations don’t usually work on email.  

Choice matters. Let your customers decide how they want to resolve an issue and be a hero in their eyes. 

Interested in learning how we can empower your company to be on the channels that matter to your customers? Get in touch today.