The importance of multi-channel in the contact centre

TELECOMS

|
Image: By BiztechAfrica
The importance of multi-channel in the contact centre

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. 



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE TELECOMS NEWS

Political uncertainty holds back North African telecoms

Social and political uncertainty is hampering investment in telecoms in North African countries such as Algeria, Libya and Egypt in spite of the evident opportunities, says Frost & Sullivan. Read More

AUC expands connectivity services with Emerging Markets Communications

Emerging Markets Communications (EMC) has announced that the African Union Commission (AUC) has expanded its connectivity services with the company in Africa and renewed its existing contract. Read More

Mixed growth in Kenyan telecoms

The latest industry data released by the Communications Authority of Kenya indicates growth in some areas and a decline in others. Read More

BlackBerry Passport unveiled in Nigeria

BlackBerry Limited has launched the BlackBerry Passport, a new device built for productivity, in Nigeria. Read More

Etisalat’s subscriber figures top 20 million

Etisalat Nigeria has announced that its active subscribers figures have now reached 20 million, upp from 17 million in December last year. Read More

Over 2,000 entrepreneurs become Glo Xchange agents

Nigerian carrier Globacom has signed up over 2,000 entrepreneurs as agents for its massive mobile money initiative.  Read More

Econet: diversification pays off

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe says its strategy to steer the business towards value added services is beginning to bear fruit, as its overlay services showed strong growth in the half year to August 2014.  Read More

Tigo Music ‘Unplugged’ set for 31 Oct

Accra is getting ready to host one of its biggest shows in recent months on Friday, hosted by Tigo Ghana. Read More

Safaricom launches third sustainability report

Safaricom has announced the release of the 2014 Sustainability Report as it continues to lead transformational change within the organization. Read More

Employees voice concern over IPO

Daggers have been drawn between the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) employees and the management over an alleged lack of consultation on the Initial Public Offer.  Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoice

FEATURED STORY

Growing African focus on data securityGrowing African focus on data security

Beachhead Solutions’ new SA and Mauritius country manager explains the challenges and solutions around securing customer data and compliance with new personal information legislation.

IN DEPTH

Africa lags on digital migration Africa lags on digital migration

Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.  

COMPANY NEWS

SAP accelerates shift to the Cloud with 41% revenue growth in third quarter

SAP has once again raised its revenue outlook, reporting broad market adoption of SAP HANA and its ‘Run Simple’ strategy validated.