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Rethinking customer service: designing the organisation for true channel fusion

Customer service must become a truly integrated all-channel operation that takes account of the explosion in social media

The use of social media as a channel for customer service has increased dramatically over the past two years. Most customer service teams in major companies now use social media to engage with customers. At the same time, self-serve via smartphones has grown in popularity, with companies recognising the potential of self-serve customer service to deliver cost savings.

These developments show that many companies are making progrss in putting social media and other new channels to use to improve customer service. But there is still more to do. To take full advantage of the proliferation of channels, companies must develop a truly integrated, all-channel operation and this, in turn, depends on great organisational design.

Customers don’t care about channels any more 

Organisations must recognise customers' priority is to get the customer service they want, and whether this is through a modern channel such as social media or a more traditional channel such as a phone line is irrelevant. Customers just want to interact with the brand they trust in the most convenient way for them. Contact centres must therefore offer customers a seamless service regardless of their channel choice. This can only be achieved when organisations develop a single view of the customer.

Prepare to deliver seamless customer service 

Developing a tryly integrated all-channel customer service operation requires organisations to establish:

  • an understanding of different consumer needs and variations (segmentation) and how they change over time (consumer trends)  
  • clarity about the ‘purpose’ of each channel (for both customer and company) and the capability required to deliver that purpose  
  • a plan for how the channels will work together, and a thorough understanding of the economics of each channel 
  • an understanding of the likely ‘jump-off points’ between channels, with interventions to enable smooth and seamless transitions 
  • a target operating model that enables efficient management of resources 
  • a recognition that customer service is no longer the sole responsibility of the contact centre.

Build competence in social media  

Social media is an increasingly important component of the channel mix, so organisations need to overcome the obstacles to integrating social media platforms into the channel fusion model. For now, the priorities should be to commit sufficient resources, secure the right technology, and resolve the confidentiality and policy issues. With these building blocks in place, organisations must then equip their contact centre staff to deal with social media channels expertly and effectively.

Create the right customer experience 

Creating the right customer experience through an all-channel customer service operation right from the start depends on thorough testing, particularly of self-service channels, with real users. It’s vital to be sure these channels are going to encourage customers to come back, as opposed to driving them away into more expensive channels – or on to social media to complain about the experience.

Contact the energy and utilities team

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