Knowing where to best communicate with your customers is essential in running a successful business. But keeping up can be difficult given customers tend to move across devices and channels such as phone, email, chat, mobile apps, SMS, IVR, social media, video chat and online self-service.
To become a truly reliable brand, businesses need to support and excel at channel pivoting—which is when a customer interacts with a brand in one channel, and then stops, pauses or finishes the interaction from a different channel or device.
Pivots bring in multiple benefits
Companies with the ability to pivot from one channel to another empower their customers to interact with them seamlessly, which can lead to:
● Increase in profit with 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers saying they spent more money on a company that delivers great service—plus, multi-channel shoppers spend three times more than single-channel shoppers;
● Lower support costs by providing the option to move conversations on the voice channel to less expensive channels such as live chat which can save up to 50% or more;
● Generate positive brand feedback and impressions: 72% of customers are willing to share positive experiences and keeps customers open to new ideas, products and services;
● Optimized customer communications by enabling personalized messaging for stronger delivery.
For example, some phone calls can be converted to lower cost self-service interactions such as email, chat or self-service. Businesses that have successfully deployed a consistent cross-channel strategy enjoy a 14.6% year-over-year increase in annual revenue.
The challenge with channel pivoting lies in creating seamless transitions for customers as they switch modes. Research has revealed customers don’t actually perceive CX channel-wise—they view the experience as whole, further highlighting the need for cross-channel consistency.
Thus, channel-hopping customers impact negatively on customer engagement, especially if a company has siloed customer service channels according to a recent report on “The Hidden Costs of Channel Switching.” The risks are particularly evident:
● 61% of customers have difficulty switching from one channel to another when interacting with customer service;
● Increased customer friction and frustration resulting from having to repeat personal information and their issue as they switch channels;
● 33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service;
● Customers tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience;
● Increased agent attrition due to burn-out as they bear the brunt of frustrated customers who have hopped from one channel to another seeking support.
Overall, out-of-sync channel pivoting leads to unhappy customers, poor operations performance and lost opportunities. Digital influencer Neil Patel also notes that just because a channel is more effective, doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement. For instance, web and social media are both in the top 3 most effective channels, but they tie at 40% as the most difficult channels to execute. The key here, is to leverage the assets you already have.
How to pivot effectively
Implementing effective channel pivoting requires a meticulously planned and executed strategy to provide consistent service quality. Gaining the flexibility to quickly react via any channel can be achieved via a blended strategy involving automated and human interactions factoring in these key tips:
● Use data to optimize customer experience. Improve customer contact performance by analyzing past interactions to inform future interactions, pinpoint customer preferences, affect which channels are offered and highlight where to use humans, bots or a blend of both.
● Get a partner for quick and easy deployment. Increase self-service options which can be outsourced to a provider to limit costs and empower customers. This minimizes staff time and cost to build, test and run new channels and service strategies.
● Embrace automation and AI. Use chatbots or virtual agents to handle basic, repetitive queries with automated responses while utilising other channels to deliver information when and where customers need them. This enables businesses to refocus on addressing more complex, sensitive customer service.
Embracing customer behavior and supporting channel pivoting can boost a business’ reputation as a reliable brand that delivers great CX, increasing customer satisfaction rates and improving the bottom line.