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The aim of multichannel customer service is to provide customers with options for how they would like to communicate with a brand if they have a query or a complaint to make.
It is also about providing a seamless experience to the customer, regardless of which channel they choose to use.
Behind the scenes, many companies may not have joined up customer service channels, but as far as customers are concerned, they are dealing with a single company, whether online, by telephone, or in a local store.
Email is the preferred contact channel for 44% of consumers, yet just 33% find it to be the most effective, according to a new Econsultancy survey.
The multichannel customer service survey, conducted using Toluna, surveyed 2,000 UK consumers on their attitudes to various contact channels.
Some highlights from the survey after the jump...
BT has over 15m customers who create more than 70m calls per year into BT’s customer service call centres and send more than 2.5m emails.
Warren Buckley is responsible for all customer services activities for BT Retail Consumer Customers and now has a staff of 10,000 based in 45 centres in the UK and India.
We spoke to Warren about the challenges of this role, and how far BT has moved towards a joined up customer service model.
In my last post I outlined how we need to start changing our thinking about multichannel, in particular the fact that we will need to start addressing a collection of touchpoints that we offer to the consumer and provide a good user experience across all of these.
Now, the message that the user experience needs to be spot on is not new, but the fact it now needs to be good across every channel provides a whole new challenge, and neither our systems, nor our organisations are geared up for it.
I was recently asked a question: Do we invest in multichannel or get the basics right?
It got me thinking that all too often we think in ‘exclusive absolutes’ – one or the other – multichannel or the basics, Twitter or Facebook, social or traditional, chat or email, call deflection or everything else…
And yet the answer is far more complex. Complex because ultimately what companies are trying to decipher is the panoply of human behaviour. Customers are unpredictable. The challenge for companies is not in understanding that, but rather where to draw the line?
Chorus is a startup based in Australia which takes sentiment monitoring to another level by allowing customer support teams, marketing departments and PR professionals to analyse and prioritise the emails they receive.
It helps internal structures and processes to focus on the negative issues first, meaning that customer experience is managed on an intelligent basis, according to severity.
We caught up with Dave Trindall, one of the co-founders, to discuss sentiment monitoring, delivering excellent customer service, the problems with current email systems and, of course, Chorus itself.
Online and offline good customer service is absolutely vital for a successful business.
So why is it that most customer service teams are among the lowest paid in a business and receive the smallest level of training?
Just over a year after the last crisis, those Icelandic volcanoes are at it again, and a plume of ash is threatening flights to and from airports in the UK.
Hopefully, the disruption to flights won't be as widespread as last year, but concerned holiday makers and business travellers will still be looking to online channels for up to date information.
I've been looking at the websites and social media channels for some of the airlines with disrupted services...
Social media gives big companies the fear because it is an unpoliced environment where bad noise travels fast. And increasingly consumers are using it to say all kinds of things about brands, and also to aim direct questions at them (in public).
In many cases these companies aren’t remotely geared up to deal with questions, and they would much rather communicate with customers in private.
But here’s why customers do their complaining in public: it’s easier. It’s really that simple. People don’t mind bitching out loud, and sometimes they take a little comfort from it, but if customer service wasn’t so broken in the first place I think customers wouldn’t be so quick to resort to the likes of Twitter and Facebook.
I’ve recently been searching for a new place to live (Contrary to popular belief, Econsultancy staff are occasionally allowed to leave their desks), which means I’ve been spending even more time than usual online, browsing the ‘to let’ ads on property websites.
And getting closer to a brain haemorrhage on an hourly basis.
Estate agents and larger aggregate property sites are ideally placed to exploit the massive uptake in web usage we’ve seen in the last decade, yet their sites are usually among the very worst examples of design and usability you’ll ever encounter, while the offline experience is also disjointed and frustrating.
While it’s clear that the agent can’t always be to blame, larger companies in particular need to get their act together fast as some providers are surging ahead, leaving their less useful competitors in the dust.
As an excuse to go house-hunting during working hours and have a bit of a rant in general, I wanted to run through some of the common mistakes I’ve seen recently.
The UK's top 25 retailers have plenty of room for improvement in their social media and customer service strategies, with just 25% of those with a Twitter presence responding to customer questions through this channel.
This is one of the findings of the Auros Are you serious about social? study, which looks at how the top 25 UK retailers responded to queries on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs.
More highlights from the study after the jump...
According to a survey, while 83% of consumers expect businesses to work harder to keep them since the recession, just 5% of think that customer service has improved over the last three years.
The channels that customers are using to complain are changing too. While 41% of people will make a complaint by phone and 63% by email, 20% take to social media sites to have a good old moan to friends and family.
This means more negative comments about companies and highlights the need for customer service improvements, as well as policies to monitor and respond to complaints on social media channels.