Common Problems with Multichannel Service Deployment

More than three-quarters of customers say their most satisfying experience occurred because they worked with a capable, competent customer agent. This explains the following statistics:

  • Most customer service problems and failures are due to poor service strategy, not necessarily the agent.

  • The biggest communications gaps are with Voice Self Service (IVR systems) and Web Self Service, at -35% and -50% respectively, which certainly isn’t the agent but fits very well with the prior point.

It also transpires that most cross channel experiences are poor with 19 of 53 companies being judged as “very poor” in cross channel reviews by Forrester Research. None were found to be “very good”, 31 were “good”, and the rest (19) were “OK”.

The most common causes of customer defection are the need to repeat themselves, being trapped in an automate system, being forced to wait too long for service, the representatives being unfamiliar with their history or value, and the difficulty of switching between channels.

Paper mail is actually preferred over poorly implemented voice self-service (IVR) because voice response systems don’t recognize customer value, lack context, and do not understand customer needs. (Those trapped in an IVR system spent an average of over 9 minutes trying to reach a human.)

With close to 75% of consumers going from the web to another channel to research, buy, or obtain service, statistics like those above do not bode well for companies that cannot smoothly integrate multiple channels.

One problem is that many companies still operate in silos with a different silo running each communications channel such as a “web team”, a “contact center”, and “sales”, each with their own method of dealing with the customer and their own pool of information. Another type of silo structure involves fragmentation of information needed by customer support into numerous databases to which they have no access. If they do have access the interaction is slowed by the need to access more than one database for all needed information.

The need for multiple channels for interacting with business can be ignored no longer. Channels outside of the phone are now standard for the customer experience. The customer expects these channels to be integrated, with the same information available to each channel. She expects personalized information to be accessible to all channels, and for each channel to provide the same information as every other.

Poor multichannel strategy is responsible for most customer frustrations and each company must determine which channels are used by their particular customers, and choose those that are appropriate for their industry and the type of queries they receive. Both the channel type and the needed infrastructure must be considered, not just for the current integration but for future integrations and channels.

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