Businesses today are offering a proliferation of communication channels to customers — from phone, online chat, SMS, and to every available form of social media. They’re working hard to succeed as what we’d call “omnichannel”marketers. However, it’s one thing to create awareness and engagement using all these channels, and quite another to provide actual customer service through them.
Here are the top reasons why and when it may be better to offer fewer customer channels instead of going multichannel.
1. One (or more) contact channel is not cutting it.
More than 60% of the company respondents say that they are not capable of resolving customer problems in the first contact via self-service, mobile, and social media. Most inquiries made through these channels will need at least a second contact, in which the customer is sent to the telephone channel for resolution.
2. Customers don’t expect their problem to be resolved on first contact.
Grimm also says that only around 60% of customers expect their issue to be handled on a first contact, and many have been disappointed with the final outcomes of their contacts through those channels.
The quality of customer experiences is crucial: prior research from CX Act showed that customers who receive a first-contact resolution, regardless of channel of contact, are nearly twice as likely to buy again and four times more likely to spread positive word of mouth about your brand.
3. Your customer base may not really need the extra channel.
There are a number of information companies have about their customers, and should use that information to their advantage when selecting channels to offer.
Mae Kowalke of Customer Service Software says that age, for example, plays a factor in the matter. Businesses that cater to younger customers can safely incorporate chat, but the older the consumer gets, the less likely they are familiar with chat and willing to use it as a support method.
A study by Software Advice affirms this: while 56% of those under 35 said they preferred live chat over phone support, this number dropped to 29% for those above 35. Roughly 60% of those older than 55 had not even used chat for customer support, which should be a telling statistic for businesses that cater to mature customers.
4. Customers are actually more flexible than we think.
Few customers care about the numbers means they can use to engage companies. Most choose to make contact through whatever channel they perceive to best meet their needs for the specific task. Research by the Corporate Executive Board found that only 16% of customers are “means-focused” (in other words, wedded to a certain channel of preference, regardless of their sense of its fitness to the task), while a whopping 84% of customers are “ends-focused” (focused on satisfactory resolution of their issue, regardless of the channel used).
5. Customers need quality over quantity.
Customers don’t need an omni-channel customer service: they care about the quality of your service. “It’s better not to be in a channel at all if you’re going to do it badly,” Grimm says. A more practical objective is to aim for multichannel customer experiences done well, with the customer’s needs in mind, handled as quickly and easily as possible.
While companies should ultimately offer all channels so customers can use their preferred method of contact, it is definitely recommended to offer one or a few channels first and get them right before offering support over all channels. Another option is to partner with outsourced customer service companies who can study and focus on which channels you should be reaching your customers with.