Challenges of the multi-channel contact centre

Your organisation wants to be flexible and give customers the option to make contact in the way that suits them.

But multi-channel customer service is not easy to deliver, and many organisations race to provide additional channels without fully understanding the risks and limitations associated with multi-channel customer service. Contact centres rush to embrace new platforms, but then struggle to integrate their new solution with ageing in-house technology. And of course, it’s customers and agents who suffer most when a channel is poorly implemented. The last thing any contact centre wants is to increase rates of attrition among customers and employees.

Let’s consider some of the challenges that you might encounter when providing multi-channel customer service, and how you can mitigate them.

Legacy tech. Does your contact centre depend on legacy technology running on in-house servers? If it does, you may struggle to bolt-on a new channel that relies on a cloud or SaaS platform. In particular, getting a blend of old and new technology to share data and exchange calls can make it near-impossible (or financially prohibitive) to deliver a solution that allows customers to start a dialogue on one channel and complete the exchange on another.

Lack of investment. When capital budgets are locked down, finding the funds for the implementation of a new channel can be difficult. As well as the technology costs (hardware, software, consultancy etc) you may need to add headcount, provide training and update numerous policies to reflect the needs of the new channel. Even channels that might seem intrinsically ‘cheap’, such as online chat, require an investment to deliver effectively.

Tracking customer journeys. Understanding how your customers flow through your organisation becomes more challenging every time you bolt on additional channels. Do your analytics applications support the new channel? Can you monitor the flow of customers across multiple channels in a single journey? Or are you losing some visibility of customer journeys by adding a new channel?

Organisational silos. It might seem logical to separate teams dealing with phone queries from those managing web chats, but this division risks the creation of organisational silos. With knowledge and practices diverging, customers are left with an inconsistent experience and a sense of confusion. Adding channels should not involve adding divisions inside your company. All customers should get the same experience from agents who are equally qualified and equipped with the same tools and knowledge.

Is multi-channel really a priority?

Before rushing to add another channel to your contact centre, consider carefully if it is truly your priority. Could your resources be better spent refining other aspects of your operations? Are there other shortcomings that you need to fix first? Many organisations would do well to identify challenges across all current customer journeys before embarking on a new channel.

Once major roadblocks are resolved, organisations can confidently pursue a new channel strategy and give customers more choice while delivering consistent quality.





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