Aligning channels with operations ensures that compliance requirements are met. There may be requirements for encrypted data, secure data transmission according to standards, and building audit trails among other things. Keep in mind that not all types of processes work well for all channels. For example, chat generally does not work well with manual processes requiring a wait-time such as research or the need for a specialized agent.
Self-service channels require access to a searchable knowledge base that will provide consistent information from any touch-point. Inconsistent information causes customers to distrust the automated channels, and they then will contact a more expensive, higher touch channel. This increases operational costs and decreases savings for the support center.
If the self-service channel is not operated by customer service, customer service leadership must create a pathway to notify the self-service manager about usage problems so root cause analysis and reduction of calls can be pursued. However, this type of arrangement introduces a bottleneck which will increase the probability of a service failure.
Infrastructure requirements must be broad enough to include future expansion and changes. Planning for the immediate needs only will result in costly and less-workable changes for future channels. A typical order of implementation is:
- Agent Knowledgebase
Note: Knowledge Centered Support Best Practice – Deploy all knowledge internally before using it in self-service to improve the information and its presentation.
Again: to avoid inconsistencies, a unified database or knowledgebase should be available for access by all channels. However, the knowledge must be formatted for each channel. Chat will require a more abbreviated form than email.
Other infrastructure requirements include creating access to back office information needed for interactions:
- Access for agents
- Integration with channels
- Knowledgebase, ordering, and filling systems
- Accounting database
- A unified agent desktop with the ability to aggregate the data in real time from multiple sources
Once the infrastructure is in place, a plan must be made for continuous improvement:
- Constant benchmarking and analysis to meet customer needs, deliver productivity and cost-efficiency improvements
- Performance analysis for each channel to find trends, gaps in delivery, quality, efficiency
- Channel specific metrics (example: real-time monitoring of email, average handle time for chat)
 Guidelines for a Successful Multichannel Service Strategy. KANA, October 2008.