Recent Webinar Outlines Strategies for More Meaningful Engagements with Customers
Exeter, Rhode Island, April 22, 2014 -- Recently, Carousel Industries, a leader in mobility, data networking and converged communications, held a three-part webinar entitled 'Closer to Customer', focused on building stronger brand-customer relationships. Part III of the series, which featured Blair Pleasant, president and principal analyst of COMMfusion LLC and co-founder of UCStrategies, and Terence Fogarty, Contact Center Solution Consultant - Strategic Accounts, of Carousel Industries, featured valuable discussion on how a multichannel contact center can create more loyal customer relationships, resulting in greater long-term revenue opportunities for both SMBs and enterprises.
The Changing Face of the Contact Center
While the term 'multichannel contact center' has been around for nearly a decade, the term remains fraught with many misconceptions. And from a consumer perspective, there are not as many truly integrated contact centers as there ought to be, Pleasant noted. Also, with the constant addition of newer channels — such as social media, mobile and others — the contact center landscape is becoming more challenging than ever. Pleasant cited the following eye-opening statistics from recent third-party surveys:
Go Easy, But Cost Effective
Companies have many possible communication channels at their disposal, including 800 numbers, live chat, social media (primarily Facebook and Twitter), mobile applications and others. Recognizing that there is no 'one size fits all' solution, Pleasant recommends that companies choose solutions that are easy for the customer, but cost effective for the organization. For example, web chat is a relatively low-cost solution that, when combined with co-browsing, can become very powerful in initiating sales conversions. "Two thirds of people abandon their shopping carts before buying," Pleasant observes. "Proactive chatting can help reduce this and increase sales by between three and five percent." In contrast, she notes that video chat is likely not a very good choice unless there is a 'high-end' purchase at stake or a more interactive kiosk type installation on hand.
Another extremely effective channel companies can implement at a relatively low cost is a dedicated Twitter contact center presence. According to Pleasant, more and more millennials are turning to Twitter to engage with companies to complain, ask questions and obtain information. She says that Twitter can be faster and more effective than more traditional, established customer channels. As more and more people turn to social media, web chat and web self-service solutions, it is likely that live voice interactions will decrease — except for those inquiries involving more complex questions and interactions.
Single ticket, single view
The ultimate goal of the multichannel contact center, according to Pleasant, is to cross all touch points and communication channels to ensure a seamless and integrated customer experience. If all the relative channels are aligned, companies should be able to offer a 'single ticket' resolution for consumer inquiries and concerns. "Companies need to be able to provide a single view of the customer, including any past and ongoing interactions that they may have had with the business across channels," Pleasant explains. "Too many organizations are using different, non-integrated platforms for each channel, and as a result, agents can't see the big picture. This can result in miscommunication, additional work for the agents, and frustrated customers."
One way companies can establish a single view of the customer is by setting up a "universal queue," which can set priority levels for inquiries and allow agents to move seamlessly between channels. In this scenario, multiple inquiries from a customer in different channels about the same issue can all seen as a 'single interaction' — this approach can result in greater continuity, especially if agents are able to access information about the customer’s previous interactions.
Take care with the cost structure
Both Fogarty and Pleasant acknowledge that companies need to be sensitive to their own operational cost structures while implementing any contact center solution. While voice and video calls may deliver a higher quality experience to a customer, these interactions come at a premium charge of up to $7.75 per interaction and more, while email engagements tend to cost about $3.00 per interaction. A live web chat engagement, according to Pleasant, costs about two thirds of that of a voice exchange, as agents can handle multiple simultaneous customer interactions.
Web self-service may be the least expensive option of all — but Pleasant warns companies not to overlook the overall goal of customer retention: "Self-service can be efficient, but it can come at the expense of sacrificing quality," she says. "If a customer is calling for a reason, they should be able to engage in a voice call, web chat or other potentially expensive channel. Complexity and time sensitivity should govern which channel is most effective, and in general, companies should be moving towards having a social strategy in their contact centers."
Carousel Industries consults, integrates, and manages technology solutions that solve business problems and contribute to your organizations’ growth. This includes unified communications, managed services, virtualization, Voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing and collaboration and data infrastructure solutions.
Today we have over 6,000 customers, including 35 of the Fortune 100. Carousel has been recognized by both VAR and CRN Magazines as one of the top technology integrators in the US and we’ve been listed in the Inc. 500/5000 seven times. Carousel is headquartered in Exeter, RI, with over 1,000 employees working from offices in 30 locations across the US, including over 250 service technicians deployed across the country. For more information visit: http://www.carouselindustries.com
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