Again the dynamic, fast-paced, wild and informative #custserv chat on Twitter last week is bringing me here to see if I can sort through an issue in a slightly lower gear. If you’ve ever participated in these chats on Tuesday nights, you know the speed at which the tweets fly by; allowing for a mere dusting of the issues.
The title of this weeks chat was “Interacting with your Customer: Text? Voice? Video?”. As you might expect with a title like that, this topic could have gone, and did go, in many directions. Eric Jacques, in his reflection here, argues that the tools you use should be the last thing on your mind with respect your service delivery model. That’s a whole other related but separate topic. And, worth the read.
I boiled down this issue in my mind into three categories:
1. Channel Integration: In order to fully understand the customer experience and how the choose to engage across multiple channels, there continues to be a need to integrate and consolidate messaging across those channels
2. Multi-channel & multi-media within an interaction: Leverage multiple channels or multiple media to engage with a customer within a single interaction creates a significant opportunity to enhance the customer experience. Imagine combining streaming video, twitter, chat and content delivery, even basics such as PDFs or PowerPoint slides to increase the effectiveness of service delivery. This opportunity is especially relevant with complex products and services such as technology, medical devices and engineering services. Pharmaceutical firms have been easing down this path over the past few years with eDetailing and video detailing services.
3. Follow or Push: Once these issues are solved for, the question then becomes where to focus your channel energy? Its a question of follow versus push. One alternative is to follow customers to their preferred channels. The benefit is flexibility in the eyes of your customers. The challenge results from spreading scarce resources across too many channels, diluting the service delivery capability and service experience. Alternatively, the strategy of banks in the early days was to pushed customers to the ATM by closing branches and reducing branch access. In those days, the ATM experience was not necessarily preferable. But, I think many would argue it is the superior experience today.
The addition of available channels of communication will continue to increase in both number and complexity; creating stress on the service delivery model and potential dilution of the service value proposition
I don’ think there is necessarily a right or wrong answer to the channel strategy question. In my mind, it’s a matter of selecting a strategy, committing to it and building your execution capabilities to support that strategy; a strategy that has the main goal of enhancing the customer experience.