Don't Fear the Multichannel: How to Reach Your Customers Where They Are

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Dipping Your Toe into the Multichannel Pool

While companies may want to set up a multichannel contact center, they may face certain barriers.

"I hear all the time, 'I can't set up my contact center with multichannel because it won't be able to handle it,' or 'My company isn't willing to invest in the necessary technology,' or 'I'm concerned that my staff will be a mess if I add another channel.

"But the biggest reason most people say that they're unwilling to add multichannel is because they don't know where to start," Reed said.

The first place to go is back to basics: know who your customers are, Reed said. While they don't think much about where the channels are, customers will notice when they're not available. If you're not providing the right channel for your customers, it could negatively impact your bottom line.

According to ICMI research, 49 percent of consumers said that they would be willing to move to a competitor who provides the same product and service but in their preferred channel. "That's why it's so important to be looking at these new channels and know the right channels that are good for your customers," Reed said.

Let the Experiments Begin

Whatever channel a company decides to use, whether it's social, mobile, etc., they need to experiment, she added. Reed suggests gathering a small group of trusted agents into the planning stage and have them play around with the chosen new channel.

Following that, a company can roll out the new channel to customers who are also trustworthy, "customers who aren't going to be upset if the new channel goes awry because it will at some point," Reed said. "This will allow your contact center to work out the kinks and establish procedures. Then get those agents and customers to help you with feedback."

Reed also suggested that companies begin experimenting with non-voice channels, such as chat.

"Chat right now is the third most common channel, and it's so popular not just because it's not just on the Web but also on mobile devices."

Reed advises that even after taking those steps, companies should continue to do research to see where people are talking about their services and products.

"Whether it's on blogs or social channels or the Web, listen to your customers," Reed said. "They will let you know what channels they want."

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