What is Driving the Multichannel Customer Experience?

Posted by Matthew Vallance

In one of my recent blogs I mentioned the move to multichannel customer service. For the customer this has been a gradual shift over the past five years or so from just using the telephone and email to using chat, Twitter, Facebook, and forums or review sites, which are today accepted as everyday interactions.

For companies managing this change it has been far from business as usual. Trends in the way people in society communicate have had an enormous impact on the way that customer experience needs to be planned and managed. And this change is more than just the rise in use in social media. In fact, I would summarise the growth in customer expectations for multichannel service to be linked to these three big trends or changes:

  • The way we communication has become multichannel. We are much more comfortable communicating in text, on websites, on social networks. There has been a complete shift in the way people communicate – especially a decline in those using phones to actually make phone calls. This change in communication styles has changed how customers expect a customer service team to interact and communicate.
  • Access to the Internet at all times is now common, thanks to smart phones, but this has only been the case for the past few years. There was a time before the iPhone when we had to go back home or to the office to use the Internet on a computer. Because of this ubiquitous access, customers can compare prices, take and share photos immediately, seek out information or check for reviews – there is now an enormous amount of potential interaction with a potential customer before any sale is ever made.
  • Social networks have turned every individual customer with a phone into an author, reviewer, and publisher – and with the immediacy that the Twitter app offers. Customers can write a negative review of a restaurant on Trip Advisor before the main course arrives or tweet dissatisfaction with a delayed flight and expect the airline to respond. And all this customer interaction is in public and easy to share.

Many observers talk about the social media revolution in customer service without considering that there are really these three pillars of change. The social would not be as ubiquitous as it now is without access to mobile Internet at all times and the change in the way we communicate with each other has been influenced by both these changes.

In my next blog I will piece these elements together to see how the expectations of multichannel service might change in future – in a world beyond smart phones and Facebook. For now though, please leave a comment if you have any thoughts on these changes in the industry, or tweet me on @vallancematt