For any company that wants to step up its customer service capabilities, the contact center is key. No other part of an organization is likely to have as great of an impact on customer satisfaction and brand perception as the contact center.
But while most business leaders understand this concept, many don't fully appreciate the importance of actually optimizing their contact center deployments. There is a world of difference between a just-good-enough contact center and a great contact center. And to achieve the latter, companies need to embrace multichannel capabilities.
Here are three of the most significant reasons why multichannel is so important for optimizing contact center performance:
One of the hallmarks of successful customer service is efficiency. Organizations need to satisfy customers' needs as quickly as possible to drive down wait times and maximize satisfaction rates.
"For any given customer service issue, there will always be an ideal channel."
A multichannel contact center complete with unified messaging solutions is essential for decreasing average customer resolution times without compromising quality. This is largely due to the fact that, for any given customer service issue, there will always be an ideal channel. A highly technical, in-depth problem may best be solved via video conferencing, while a quick, urgent issue may be best served by an SMS exchange.
In a traditional contact center with a legacy suite of tools, neither of these channels would even be options for customer service representatives. Instead, they would be forced to rely on voice and possibly email to solve these issues. As a result, complex problems will eat up even more of the agent's and client's time, while simple issues will take far longer than they should to resolve.
A multichannel contact center enables customer service agents to identify the nature of the problem and then quickly and easily move the conversation to the ideal medium.
2. Customer preferences
As highlighted above, multichannel contact centers allow agents to choose the best medium. But that's not all – they also allow customers to use their preferred channels. A client who's most comfortable on the phone can call in, while another with the same problem can choose live chat support.
Obviously, this suggests that in some cases customers will end up using a suboptimal channel for their service needs. However, this potential slip in efficiency is minor when compared to the benefits of accommodating customer preferences.
Today's consumers are more demanding than ever before. To a significant degree, this can be traced back to the fact that a large number of companies embracing unified communications and multichannel capabilities in their contact centers and beyond. The more organizations that follow this trend, the more standardized the practice begins to seem in the eyes of consumers. Those firms that can't or won't accommodate their customers' channel preferences are already starting to seem behind-the-times and apathetic to their clients. In a short while, this perception may become even more damaging.
On the other hand, by embracing multichannel contact centers, companies can easily demonstrate their commitment to both customer service and consumer preference. Such an attitude will have a major impact on both potential and existing customers, improving the organizations' reputation and brand loyalty for years to come. In fact, a recent Aberdeen Group study found that lifetime customer value was more than 27 percent greater for firms with omnichannel customer experience management programs than those that lacked such capabilities.
3. Employee satisfaction
Finally, there's the issue of employee satisfaction. For any contact center to deliver high-quality results, skilled agents are essential. It takes months to become a seasoned customer service representative, and longer still to achieve real mastery. That means employee retention in the contact center has a direct impact on outcomes.
Employees, like customers, appreciate the ability to use different channels. They want to have that level of flexibility, because they know it will help them to perform their jobs well, as The Huffington Post contributor Doris Higginbotham recently noted. She pointed out that delivering the tools and policies agents need to deliver superior support can be a key means of supporting "happy goals." This in turn can play a major role in fostering a culture of happiness throughout the organization.
By embracing multichannel contact centers, business leaders can provide their customer service agents with the tools they need and want. As a result, everyone benefits.