I was recently involved in a Digital Leaders Wales Salon and was asked to talk about Collaboration and putting the customer first. We had some very interesting discussions and I learnt a good deal about how organisations should use social media from my fellow speakers Helen Reynolds, Director at Social for the People and Owen Williams, Head of Social Media BBC Wales.
In this post I wanted to briefly address the points made about customer collaboration and the discussion we had.
The purpose of customer collaboration should be all about helping identify the needs of your customers and guiding them through the journey to achieve their goals and doing this in the most convenient way possible for the customer. This sounds simple enough, but there are often obstacles in the way of achieving this.
Traditional forms of collaboration, though familiar, have their own deficiencies.
In person collaborations are very effective, but require a lot of time and effort from the customer. For example, consider wanting to take out a mortgage at the bank. The customer will have to schedule an appointment, which will have to be during bank office hours, potentially take time off work to go to the appointment and have to travel to the location. This takes time, effort and money by the customer to achieve.
Telephone calls can also be considered a traditional form of collaboration. It is very easy to pick up a telephone and make a call to talk to someone. The level of collaboration that can be achieved via the telephone is limited though and the experience is rarely an enhanced one.
In a world where many products and services are now a commodity, one of the main differentiators a provider has is their customer service. Customer collaboration is a key part of the overall customer service, so providing a superior collaboration experience leads to a superior customer service. This can be recognised in increased NPS or CSAT scores leading to higher customer acquisition and retention rates.
Watch Brandon's experience of taking out a loan with his bank on our Youtube channel.
In the modern world, the digital age, there are many more forms of communication and collaboration that can be utilised.
Websites are predominantly a self service tool not a collaborative tool, but this is changing with many sites providing webchat functionality where you can talk via text to an expert. This is a very useful, non-obtrusive channel that is asynchronous in nature so the customer can engage in their own time.
New technologies in the web domain have now also opened up the possibility to use websites as a real time communication platform. You can now enable Video or Audio calling directly from within the website. A much richer remote collaboration experience can also be achieved with co-browsing of the website between the customer and the organisation representative they are talking to.
This now allows a customer to engage with an enterprise at a location and time that suits them with very little time, effort and money spent on their behalf.
Social media also provides a key communication and collaboration platform for organisations to interact with their customers. Using Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and soon Whatsapp, organisations can engage with their customers through different channels in ways never considered before.
Read our Live Assist Case Study 'Perfecting the Art of Mobile Engagament' here >>
Omnichannel not multichannel
So there are many different channels that organisations can use to communicate and collaborate with their customers. Each channel has its own benefits and reasons for use. Most importantly in putting the customer first, is allowing the customer to choose the channel that best suits them. There is no one size fits all and different customers will want to take advantage of different channels.
There is always a but.
Often customers will need to move across channels. Though it may be convenient to start on one channel, to progress the conversation you may need to move to a different channel. A multichannel approach provides the ability for a customer to select a channel to communicate on, but does not provide an easy, frictionless way to move to a different channel.
For example, a customer is logged in to a website and decides that they need to talk to someone in the organisation. They have to find the telephone number on the website, call in, go through IVR pressing 1 for this and 2 for that before getting to a human who does not know who they are or what they want. This is despite the fact that the journey started by being logged in and authenticated on the website.
Omnichannel allows a customer to move across the channels and take their context with them. Now a customer can start on one channel and move to another channel without having to start their experience again. The customer who moved from the website to the phone call will be greeted by someone that knows who they are and what they want to do, reducing customer frustration and enhancing their experience.
Put the customer first. Collaborate with them and make it easy for them.
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Original post, Gethin Liddell.