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In my last blog I looked at the important role the call centre team can play in improving customer experience in a multichannel environment.

In part two, we explore the steps companies can take to close the multichannel customer experience gap.

Closing the gap

Gartner states “The lack of cohesive business integration across channels and consistent management of customer interactions will be the leading factors diminishing customer satisfaction and increasing defection to competitors”.  

So what are organisations to do about this issue? How do they gain visibility into the online customer experience to close this costly gap? There are a few different approaches:

Replicating website experiences

A number of businesses replicate website issues and experiences by providing call centre agents with an internal version of their websites, which allows agents to understand customer processes and struggles as they navigate through the website.

However, this approach introduces new challenges as this mandates maintaining not one but two sites, both of which need to be continually updated with any changes to pricing, product promotions, etc.

This also fails to account for transaction history, visitor preferences and the unique and unpredictable behaviour of each user.

Co-browsing

Co-browsing tools allow a call centre agent to follow in their customers’ footsteps as they navigate through the site.

However, these tools do not give agents the context of what happened online before the customer called the contact centre.

Customer experience management

When executed properly, customer experience management (CEM) provides visibility into the complete context of the online experience, not just what customers are doing right now but also the ability to play back the customer’s session in real-time, showing exactly what they experienced online.

This visibility enables agents to see first-hand why things went wrong for the customer. While on the phone with customers, agents can use this information to validate what those customers experienced and help them to complete their transactions.

In the case of any serious issues or website optimisation requirements, the call centre staff can escalate any website problems to the relevant teams The benefits of closing the multi-channel customer experience gap are significant.

They include…

Faster problem resolution and shorter call handle times

If the call centre agent has visibility into the online customer experience, it removes the need for the call centre agent to ask the customer to once again go through the cause of their struggle.

Rather than relying on an already frustrated customer to remember exact details about their transaction, which is time consuming and irritating for the customer, the agent can begin each interaction at a point that makes sense to the customer and provide a much higher level of service.

Improved first-call resolution

Front-line agents are able to solve customer issues themselves, so there’s less often a need to escalate the issue to a manager. That means greater efficiencies, lower costs, less time on hold for customers, and crucially, happier customers.

Higher customer value

Empowering customer contact centre agents has a positive impact on conversion rates. When agents are armed with online visibility into customer struggles, they are better equipped to help the customer cross the final hurdle and complete their transaction.

Furthermore, armed with valuable information about customers’ interests, the customer contact team can use this information for targeted cross-selling and up-selling, leveraging improved online visibility and turning it into higher customer value.

For example, a travel customer calling up to complain about a poor online experience can be quickly turned into a brand ambassador if the agent can identify the problem quickly and give them a complementary room upgrade as a result.

Establishing a customer service advantage

The multichannel customer experience gap is a common problem. A recent Econsultancy report, commissioned by Tealeaf, shows that only 3% of companies believe they provide an excellent cross-channel customer experience, while only 6% believe that the offline parts of their business have visibility into how customers interact with their websites.

The benefits of self-service are tremendous. Do it well and you save money, increase customer retention and gain significant advantage over competitors. Do it poorly and you’ll spend a lot of time and money trying to woo back lost customers.

However, don’t forget that even with the most feature-rich website and the best website design, self-service still requires service.

Geoff Galat

Published 7 December, 2011 by Geoff Galat

Geoff Galat is Worldwide VP of Marketing at IBM Tealeaf and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

25 more posts from this author

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