In the post-pandemic world, customers expect to interact with brands on their terms – via their preferred channel, and at the time and place they want.  

With demand for digital channels spiking, brands must now integrate all forms of communication which are relevant for their specific customers – such as chat bots, SMS, web, mobile apps, phone, email, video, WhatsApp and Messenger. 

Here, we discuss three trends in demand for new channels to optimize CX while retaining operational control – a topic explored more fully in the CX21 series.

Provide a seamless user experience

Many customers want to proactively investigate, and self-serve, solutions to problems – often using multiple channels simultaneously for a speedier resolution.  

What people will not tolerate is brands wasting their time by failing to manage the complexity of the multichannel environment. In reality, that means being asked to provide the same information multiple times or being sent down ‘dead end’ or circular channels, where it’s impossible to complete transactions. It’s vital that customers can complete journeys in any, and all, channels provided by the brand – be it an app, website, social channels or bot. 

Advanced firms recognize that multichannel is a strategic priority. They’re investing in cloud contact centres which enable them to integrate all their business operations – from sales, customer service, CRM, and marketing, which helps customers to switch easily between channels. It also ensures technologies work together, and provides a ‘single view of the customer’ across online and offline experiences.  

Design with the customer in mind

Brands must resist the temptation to implement ‘cool’ new channels for the sake of it – effectively putting tactics before strategy.  

The journey to multi-channel should always begin with a “human sense of design thinking” – gaining a genuine understanding of what people your customers are trying to achieve, and the journeys they’re taking to get there.  

For consumers, the priorities are most likely to be convenience and simplicity. When introducing new channels, it’s often easier and more practical for brands to introduce bolt-ons for existing customer technology, rather than introduce clunky proprietary apps – many of which to date have collected data but added little value to customers. 

With demand for digital channels soaring, it may also be time to ‘bust the myth’ that people, by default, want to get into phone conversations with advisors. In reality, these calls are often the “human last resort” for people happy to self-serve, thus brands should recruit and assign highly skilled advisors to handle these complex queries. 

In short, customers love digital channels – but their primary concern remains the ability to easily complete transactions – whatever the channel.  

Role of data

Providing an opportunity for great CX anytime, anywhere and on any device marks a clear win for consumers. But it also enables intelligent brands to secure a competitive advantage – through gathering, centralizing, and mining data from the entire customer journey.  

Brands will need to use AI and analytics to create the customer profiles which underpin future products and services. These data-led approaches help to exceed customer expectations, cement customer loyalty, and refine multi-channel strategies.  

And that’s a wise move, because delivering a robust multi-channel environment is not a one-off exercise; brands will need to make a long term, operational commitment, and a team of people to continuously assess and improve performance.  

The shift to multi-channel will put clear water between CX brands. Those which streamline channels, apply human design thinking, and harness insights from powerful data, will maintain ‘sticky’ customer relationships  – delivering experiences well beyond purely transactional and reactive services. Brands which don’t engage with multichannel risk reputational damage from wasting their customers’ time on poorly-designed journeys which prioritize channels over user experience. 

Discover our CX21 series that explores the major trends, opportunities, and challenges in the world of CX in the 21st century, focusing on how brands can thrive in this dynamic context. 

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