The end of call centre queues?
Channel hopping is a simple new philosophy in customer communications; let the customer contact your business on their favourite channel or platform. Do they prefer Messenger over SMS? SMS over email? Customer communication platforms are evolving to handle omnichannel communication seamlessly, creating happier customers, and happier businesses, in the process.
For too long businesses have dictated the terms of customer engagement. Mobile technology is now helping to upturn this, with the proliferation of smartphones and tech-savvy users now being happier to communicate via messenger apps or email than over the phone. With the right platform handling these multiple channels, agent teams can be smaller and more agile than ever.
Now customers can be in control of which channels they use to communicate with companies, taking the same conversation with them whichever channel they move to, and at a time that suits them.
What are the benefits of channel hopping?
The key advantage of channel hopping is improved customer experience. Users will have much greater ease communicating with business and will be able to get the answers they need faster than before. This kind of value-add is key, especially with internet and phone providers. If you’ve ever been on hold with a call centre, you’ll know what a comparative pleasure it is to deal with companies that have adopted more modern and responsive solutions.
Another advantage is creating harmonious communications. Emails typically only have a read-rate of around 60%, whereas SMS has a typical read-rate of 98%. This means simply sending an SMS prompt with an email makes your customer much more likely to read and action an email. This in turn can help businesses’ cashflow, by ensuring bills aren’t going unpaid simply because they’re forgotten about. Omnichannel communication helps to mitigate this by harnessing the cumulative power of channels to make sure messages aren’t immediately going to the bottom of your mental ‘to-do’ list.
What are the risks of channel hopping?
Businesses can have some understandable concerns about channel hopping. Can it be done seamlessly? What about interactions that can’t be completed in a given channel? Will customers have to re-state their situation when they switch channel?
The remedy to these problems are channel hopping platforms that let you create customisable dialogue journeys and allow you to collect data on those journeys that can be implemented to make the overall process more streamlined. If the system is configured to keep the same agent across channels, re-stating situations is avoided, and customers can be diverted along proven channel/dialogue paths if they are having difficulty.
That said, there’s a balance to be had between switching seamlessly and appropriately, and apparently at random. The key is in making it feel natural to the customer and making them feel like they are dictating the terms of engagement, while maintaining visibility over the entire conversation with the business. Data collection and a platform that lets you feed its insights back into the journey are key to finding this balance.
Data collection can also give businesses greater insight into customer behaviour and demographic trends, thus enabling different communication pathways for different segments. For example, a business may use engagement and read-rate data from their customer database to take advantage of millennials’ comfort with newer and faster channels.
Email, mail, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, SMS… each channel has its virtues and it can be difficult to know which will be most effective. Channel hopping removes this problem by letting companies use all of them in harmony. A dialogue with a customer can seamlessly transition between email, text, or messenger, depending on how the customer replies, and which one has the strongest response rate for their demographic.
Not only does channel hopping create added-value for customers, the data collected can give marketing and sales teams much-needed insights to give them an edge in a highly crowded digital marketplace.
Ignore what your parents used to tell you when channel hopping. Don’t pick a channel and stick to it. Pick whatever you want and switch to the most convenient at every step.