No matter the vertical you play in—be it hospitality, retail, finance—by now you have most certainly heard the phrase “multichannel customer service.” In the simplest of terms, multichannel refers to the practice of interacting with customers using a combination of indirect and direct communication channels—e.g. websites, retail stores, mail order catalogs, direct mail, email, mobile, etc.—and enabling customers to take action with your brand across the channel of their choosing.
Quite simply, multichannel marketing is all about giving the customer choice. And they want it. In fact, 25 percent of consumers utilize one to two channels when seeking customer care and 52 percent of consumers utilize three or four channels.
For instance, imagine a couple who will be vacationing at an all-inclusive resort. They may be interested in:
- • Booking their vacation online (no rep needed!)
- • Phoning the call center as the trip nears to inquire if they can upgrade their room
- • Receiving a SMS message the night before their trip teasing the activities of the week ahead
- • Hopping on a quick live chat session the morning of to ask if the resort provides sunscreen
- • Giving their feedback about their trip afterwards via a customer survey found on the website
For just one trip, this couple may use up to five customer service channels. So how can you elevate your multichannel service strategy to give your consumers this choice?
To begin, treat each customer service channel—whether it’s a store, online or the call center—as a mutually exclusive experience. Organizations need to look at the overall customer experience because a customer may only come in through one channel. Moreover, create brand standards that are followed throughout your organization to ensure your brand promise is consistently fulfilled. Added tip: don’t be afraid to evolve your brand as needed to continue to fulfill those standards.
Finally, think of your brand like a collector’s item. Protect it from disappearing and shape toward growth and expansion.
Remember that the aim of multichannel customer service is to provide customers with options for how they would like to communicate with your brand. Perhaps more importantly, it’s also about providing a seamless experience to the customer.
So when thinking about your brand, remember the well-known adage: “It takes years to build up trust and only seconds to destroy it.” Your customers expect you to fulfill your brand promise and short-sightedness as it relates to multichannel marketing is a sure-fire way to lose trust within seconds.