Multichannel Customer Service: Are we confusing customers by offering too many channels?

Let’s rewind to the year 1990; a time when Home Alone was topping the box office charts, Vanilla Ice was playing on every radio channel and customer service was a whole lot simpler.

The number of customer service channels has significantly increased since the 1990’s. Once an industry delivered by face-to-face interactions, telephone conversations and mailed letters, customer service has evolved into a multichannel experience with the help of the internet, email, live chat, mobile apps and social media.

While some channels have lost popularity, such as postal mail, the average company is providing customer service across seven different channels. And, as technology further advances, we can only expect to see more service channels being added to the mix.

However, is there a possibility that by offering more service channels for customers to contact us on, we’re in danger of giving customers too much choice?

More choice, less service

Multichannel customer service aims to provide customers with a seamless experience regardless of the channel they choose to use. Multichannel strategy is very current but so is delivering optimal service. Providing customers with the highest level of service can lead to an increase in customer satisfaction and higher retention rates.

In the 2006 HBR article, Barry Schwartz said: “Marketers assume that the more choices they offer, the more likely customers will be able to find just the right thing.”

Studies show that more choices lead to less action, lower revenue, less satisfaction and more diminishing returns. And, although customers may not benefit from more choice, they demand the channels to be implemented.

Ultimately, customers want things to be clear, simple and easy. Your business should be strive to achieve just that. Offering more doesn’t make things clear, simple and easy.

As the number of channels grows, the capability to meet expectations becomes a challenge for many businesses. As representatives spread themselves too thin to respond to the risen expectations, the content given is of a lower quality. Businesses need to reconsider their customer service channels and the provision of additional choice if they wish to engage customers and deliver a great service.

Hold the phone

Despite the new customer service channels available, the main point of contact for customers is the telephone as it provokes an immediate response. Businesses must staff customer service with knowledgeable agents who have the ability to help customers promptly and effectively while creating a positive impression.

Outsourcing to a telephone answering service benefits both business and customers. When you divert your phone lines to customer service professionals, you can concentrate on other aspects of your business whilst ensuring that no customers are neglected. Crucially, a call answering service means that whenever customers call, they always get through to an actual human being.

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