As always in business, technology is a means to an end. According to Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, “Meaningful digital transformation that enables companies to compete in today’s digital economy encompasses everything from processes to systems to policies to product upgrades. Technology is an enabler for a greater purpose and mission.” With that in mind, address the elements that will determine the ultimate success of your omni-digital strategy.
Agents: Fully digital or hybrid?
With digital channels, an agent can manage more than one interaction at a time. For example, after answering an inquiry on Messenger and while waiting for a response from the customer, the agent can answer another message via email. This is not possible when responding to inquiries via phone. However, deciding which channels each agent will handle isn’t simply a matter of gauging their agility and ability to multitask.
Different skills sets are needed to handle customer care effectively via digital and voice channels. Train your agents on the nuances of each channel, such as the:
- Preferred format and character limit on Twitter
- Response time expected on live chat
- Way to communicate via Messaging and how to use the associated features (media files, localization, voice messages, etc.)
Once your agents have the necessary skills to manage your digital channels, empower them to proactively address customer issues. You will reduce redirects and eliminate layers of approvals, resulting in faster resolution and higher customer satisfaction.
Make it easy for your agents
Leveraging a single tool enables your agents to interact across multiple digital channels.
Most customer service departments rely on a number of tools, everything from a digital customer engagement platform and CRM system to business intelligence and more. During and after an interaction, your agents may need to complete a certain number of actions. For instance, maybe you require them to mark the interaction as solved, add comments in the CRM system about what was discussed, and schedule the next steps with the customer.
To streamline the process for your agents, it’s best to equip them with integrated tools, unified on an open platform designed to synchronize data from multiple sources. Doing so allows agents to complete all required actions from a single interface, making the process easier and faster.
Additionally, streamlining the process from the agent’s perspective reduces stress and the likelihood of turnover.
Map all departments and teams to customer inquiry topics
Organizing customer-service teams by channel can create silos: when each team replies on separate channels, customer information does not circulate easily across the company. This often results in longer response times or unnecessary customer redirects to different channels. Imagine a customer sends an email about an invoice issue, and the company replies that it cannot help via email and advises the customer to call customer service.
This customer experience would greatly improve if service teams were organized by competencies—for example, technical team, invoice team, administrative team—and equipped with a single digital customer-engagement platform. Then, each team could process interactions on multiple channels. To figure out how to organize these teams, map out all departments that currently answer customer inquiries.
Build digital-centric processes specific to each channel
Though agents need to capture a certain amount of customer data, different processes are required for digital vs. phone. They need one process to get answers during a synchronous phone call—when answers are instantaneous—and a separate process to capture responses in an asynchronous messaging conversation that can last anywhere from minutes to hours.
As you design your process for enabling both scenarios, think through the criteria that will be used to route and prioritize messages:
- Topic of the messages
- Keywords indicating that the message is sensitive
- Customer status (VIP, for example)
Again, keep in mind the uniqueness of each channel. For example, an agent can’t send the same standardized message via email and Twitter because of the character limit on Twitter.
Define your KPIs and objectives
You can’t gauge how well you’re doing unless you first set your goals and determine how you’ll measure your progress. Start by defining the KPIs that matter for each channel, associated with relevant objectives. For example, you might say that to earn a 90% customer satisfaction rate for your messaging channel, your agents must achieve an Average Handling Time of one minute.
Defining objectives ensures you don’t just monitor KPIs, but are positioned to make improvements. According to Adam Toporek, customer service expert at CTS Service Solutions, “All the major experience metrics have research both proving and disproving their position as the ‘best’ indicator of downstream customer-experience results, most particularly, loyalty. The issue is not that one metric is better than another. You can use NPS, CES, or CSAT. The bigger issue is when organizations focus only on the metric instead of a comprehensive program of experience improvement which includes the metric.”
Originally published Jul 11, 2019, updated Dec 30, 2022