A phrase of the past… "Have you visited our website?"
It’s a fact that over half of first contacts now take place across the web. Positioned well and delivered effectively, most customers accept web self-serve. Place an order, check an order, obtain a copy document, or research the answer to a simple question. Convenient and fast.
Channelling customer contact to the most efficient channel is a key ingredient of running a successful business. Structured web interaction provides consistency and lower cost. But when delays or problems are identified, customers must be helped and they typically prefer to do so with dialogue.
When is it good to talk?
Surprisingly the purposes for which people use dialogue fall into a small number of categories:
- To exchange information
- To get something done or stop it
- To feel better (albeit this can be achieved through many ways)
They feel that they can better express themselves. So when a customer is in need of help, dialogue comes to the fore to resolve feelings of frustration or helplessness navigating web systems.
Critical success factors in escalation
Clearly, the customer choosing dialogue is fundamentally an escalation to deal with a failure in self-service. The issue may be small or large. The dialogue must therefore improve things and bring the relationship back on track.
Firstly, dialogue must be contextually aware. At a minimum this means knowing who the customer is and what they were trying to do. An understanding of the history of that customer – both transactionally and service wise can add significantly.
Being able to do something to resolve the problem immediately is also right up there. If you don’t know the answer or can’t fix the issue then frustration will rapidly increase.
Thirdly, prompt and focussed attention. Unfortunately, diffusing a situation personally and multi-tasking are poor companions.
Pros and cons of different options
Telephone escalation has strong merits. The empathetic effect of a human voice can be all that is required. However, the cross channel nature of web to voice creates challenges for many businesses. The infrastructure needed to pass the context and any transaction to the contact agent should not be under-estimated. And then there is the issue of resource – people are expensive, hard to find and take time to train. Typically, the telephone should be the last resort.
Online/Web Chat is becoming very popular. However, you face similar issues to voice even though the transport method is web. The killer blow is the ‘non-exclusive’ nature of chat, with agents often multi-tasking across customers: introduce any form of communication delay to distressed customers at your peril!
So what's the solution...?
In a perfect world, you would have an account manager online constantly observing the customer interaction. Aware of context, and fully available to help as soon as difficulties arise. Focussed on one customer at a time there are no delays or distractions. Trained to the highest level they deliver the best resolution, ensuring that you customer continues to be a valuable source of not only sales but as a brand ambassador for your customer service expertise.