Working in B2B tech PR, it’s rare that you get to appreciate first-hand the impact of the technologies, services and applications your clients offer.
It’s why the customer service sector interests me. While I’ve been working with companies in the contact centre space for ten years now, I’ve been actively participating as a consumer for my entire adult life.
My annual trip to Call Centre and Customer Management Expo this week reinforced the vast range of tools, applications, software and hardware that are now on offer. Some themes remained consistent with previous years, such as metrics, staff motivation, workforce optimisation and how to deliver exceptional customer service.
But the contact centre industry is moving on. Multichannel is now the name of the game and there were clear messages from exhibitors on how to deliver effective customer service across a host of communication channels, from telephone and email, to live chat and social media.
Research published by Mitel (our client) at the show provides insights into the wide variety of channels UK consumers are now demanding, and why. But stats from Azzurri, also released this week, highlight that while 96% of organisations are interacting with customers via multiple channels, they are scrambling to meet customer demands.
The results struck a cord with me and my ‘demands’ as a customer. I moved house this week, which meant contacting 30+ organisations, such as banks, credit card companies and utility providers. I have online accounts with them all, so changing my address online should be easy, right?
What I wasn’t expecting was the sheer variance in how these 30+ companies insisted that I interact with them. No problems logging in for the water company, credit card and TV licensing. Car insurance required a call (albeit free phone), pet insurance wanted an email and, while I could change the delivery address on my store card online they needed a call to change the billing address. Not my preferred channels, but manageable.
Then it just got annoying. I had to print a form from my bank’s website and post it. NSandI required a phone call, and I’m still waiting for the form they are posting out to me to fill in. So much for signing up for an online account.
At Call Centre and Customer Management Expo, many speaker sessions highlighted how it is the consumer that is driving change within the contact centre, but Olympia was full of tools and applications that would allow organisations to deliver integrated, multichannel customer service to meet these demands.
In today’s increasingly digital world, a true multichannel contact centre will be the one that offers me a range of channels so I can interact with a brand in any way I choose, and receive a consistent level of service.
For me, it’s now less about whether I am being served, but rather whether I am being served the way I want to be.