The importance of multi-channel in the contact centre
TELECOMSBy BiztechAfrica - Sept. 12, 2012, 9:06 a.m.
By Paul Fick, Managing Director, Jasco Enterprise
With the prevalence of the Internet, the availability of always-on connectivity and the evolution of smart phones and tablets, customer communication preferences have changed dramatically over the last decade.
These social phenomena mean that people now communicate more often and in more ways than ever before, and this trend is no longer limited to only younger generations. In fact, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Centre in 2010 a total of 79% of adults have an online presence, and a substantial amount of time is spent across generations on social media interaction and using tools such as instant messaging. The message is clear – your customers are online and using multiple channels to communicate. If your contact centre cannot do the same, your business is bound to suffer.
The Internet has empowered customers to easily and instantly analyse, compare, search and research products, prices and brands before making a purchasing decision. This has significantly changed the customer-company relationship. Customers now demand instant attention, and if they are not satisfied, obtain good service or the product quality is poor, this knowledge will immediately be shared with their peers via a variety of media channels.
This change in customer behaviour implies that the age of the basic call centre is long gone. Customers now have so much more choice in the way they communicate with their peers that they expect the same options when communicating with a business. Business need to be aware of what is communicated about the business that is in the public domain, and must have the ability to communicate with their customer base in a similar fashion. At the very least, contact centres need to incorporate an email channel as a starting point and should have the ability to monitor the most important social media channels. Customers can ‘make or break’ a company or brand image using social media.
Aside from the need to know what customers are saying on various social media channels, organisations also need to be agile in the way they respond to their customers. The fast pace of life today means that customers want answers immediately, using the communication channel of their choice, and if one business cannot provide this, there is every possibility that they may take their custom elsewhere. Chat, or instant messaging, is fast becoming an important method of communication for customers who want information quickly without having to go through traditional voice channels; however, customers may wish to use a combination of voice, email, chat, even social media to communicate with a company, and they expect the same seamless experience they get when using multiple communication channels among their peers.
Customers use multiple channels to communicate, so the importance of a multi-channel contact centre is clear. However incorporating traditional and new media channels can prove to be something of a challenge, given that each medium has its own characteristics. While fax is sometimes necessary, email can usually do the same job except when policies require that faxes be used. Email and fax messages both have an accepted response time of a few hours, and are cheaper to service than voice. However voice is still a necessary component of any contact centre. Inbound calls have service levels measured in seconds and are good for negotiation and personal communication.
Chat is an extension of this, also requires immediate attention, and is ideal for supporting web customers. Like voice it relies on agent availability, however one agent can often handle multiple chats at the same time. SMS is another channel, which is fast and easy to manage, but is limited to short responses and as a result there is potential for misunderstandings. Finally, there is social media, which requires a response time of a matter of minutes. Social media itself constitutes multiple channels, but the benefit of this is that one post can sometimes resolve issues for multiple customers, and it allows organisations to actively detect opportunities and issues. However multiple networks increases management complexity, and content needs to be filtered. It is also an entirely public domain so is not suitable for all subjects, and organisations have little to no control over what customers say about them on these forums.
Managing each of these channels independently is a complex, complicated process that does not deliver the seamless experience customers demand. A true multi-channel contact centre allows organisations to combine channels to leverage a host of benefits and better manage service levels. Using a blended multi-channel contact centre solution, organisations can gain an understanding of which channels are productive and which are not, and can also incorporate outbound calling and back office tasks. One solution to manage multiple channels also ensures that there is a universal queuing system and that agents can be assigned to contacts based on priority and skill. This also provides a normalised interface for agents, which requires less training to operate, and allows for standardised reporting and management across communication channels.
Customers are used to communicating with multiple channels, and in order to remain competitive, businesses need to be able to do the same. With a single contact centre solution capable of handling multiple channels, customer frustration can be lessened, wasted agent capacity can be minimised, and service levels can be accurately managed across various platforms. In today’s social world, the customer really is king, and the multi-channel contact centre is the next step in improving customer retention and delivering improved customer service levels.
MORE TELECOMS NEWS
World Bank to help rehabilitate DRC telecomsDilapidated, outdated and unreliable telecommunications infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be rehabilitated, rebuilt and modernised. Read More
30 phone brands registered with SONThe Phone and Allied Products Dealers Association (PAPDA) at Computer Village, Lagos says it has registered 30 brands of mobile phones with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria. Read More
TNM dishes out K2.5m in Independence promotionPremier mobile telecom operator TNM has dished out K2.5m worth of Mpamba value during the first draw of its commemorative promotion as Malawi celebrates 50 years of self rule. Read More
Airtel chief explains Touching Lives initiativeAirtel Nigeria says its launch of Touching Lives, a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, is meant to raise hope and inspire people. Read More
Vodacom Mozambique partners with FlytxtFlytxt, a Big Data analytics solution provider for Communication Service Providers, has announced a strategic tie up with Vodacom, Mozambique’s leading mobile network. Read More
CEC Liquid Telecom Zambia appoints new MDThe Liquid Telecom Group and Copperbelt Energy Corporation PLC have announced the appointment of Andrew Kapula as Managing Director of CEC Liquid Telecom in Zambia. Read More
MTN enhances data communications in Western and Central regionsMTN now has over 2275 2G sites and 1090 3G sites in as well as over 4000km of fibre in place in Ghana, to empower customers to do more with voice and data. Read More
NCA lifts ban on VodafoneThe National Communications Authority (NCA) has lifted the ban imposed on Vodafone Ghana. Read More
Samsung Ghana bemoans influx of fake phonesSamsung Ghana has bemoaned the influx of fake Samsung products on the Ghanaian market and called for collaboration to combat it. Read More
Tigo Ghana sales team scoops 2013 Millicommander AwardsTigo Ghana's sales team has been voted the best within the Millicom Group. Read More
FEATURED STORYWidening ICT skills gap: Cause for concern
Nigeria's FDI gains could be eroded by the widening gap in indigenous skilled ICT manpower, writes Kokumo Goodie.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya rolls out e-extension to improve agriculture
In a bid to curb the overwhelmed number of agricultural extension officers in Kenya, the ministry of agriculture is embracing technology with their introduction of E-Extension services, which are aimed at reaching out to over 7 million farmers annually.
COMPANY NEWSVMware reports second quarter 2014 results
VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, today announced financial results for the second quarter of 2014.New Sage ERP X3 version puts business information at your fingertips
Sage ERP Africa has announced the availability of Sage ERP X3 version 7, the latest version of its global business management solution for midsized companies.How the cloud can power entrepreneurship and urbanisation in Africa
Cloud computing is not only fundamentally changing the way business operates, it is also driving a new wave of job creation opportunities, says SAP Africa.