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DATAMARK Multichannel Customer Contact Best Practices


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Tech-savvy Generation Y and Millennials and a growing number of technologically adept baby boomers are leading the charge toward multichannel customer communication. These and other customers expect companies to offer service and support – and to respond to praise and complaints – through multiple contact channels, including voice, email, social media and more. To succeed in this new era of customer contact and reputation management, companies must assess customer channel preferences, embrace and select the right bundle of services to deliver on those needs, and plan an implementation strategy. Companies must continually train agents to provide leading-edge service and ensure the organization maintains the highest levels of customer response and support.

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DATAMARK Multichannel Customer Contact Best Practices

  1. 1. © The Outsourcing InstituteBest Practices and Considerations forMultichannel Contact CenterImplementationDATAMARK, Inc. White Paper in associationwith the Outsourcing Institute
  2. 2. © The Outsourcing Institute 2SUMMARYTech-savvy Generation Y and Millennials and a growing number oftechnologically adept baby boomers are leading the charge towardmultichannel customer communication. These and other customersexpect companies to offer service and support – and to respond to praiseand complaints – through multiple contact channels, including voice,email, social media and more. To succeed in this new era of customercontact and reputation management, companies must assess customerchannel preferences, embrace and select the right bundle of services todeliver on those needs, and plan an implementation strategy. Companiesmust continually train agents to provide leading-edge service and ensurethe organization maintains the highest levels of customer response andsupport.
  3. 3. © The Outsourcing Institute 3Many Customers, Many ContactSolutionsIn today’s customer servicemarketplace, contact channels areas varied as the consumers whouse them. From tech-savvyGeneration Y and Millennials(those born from 1983 to 2000), tothe Generation X population(1965-1982), to a growing numberof technologically adept babyboomers (1946-1964), they’reseeking service support,searching for answers to productquestions, and reading or writingreviews, via a variety of contactchannels. These include phonecalls with live agents, interactivevoice response (IVR), email, webchat and social media.Today, a company’s reputationcan depend on how easily andseamlessly these contactchannels are blended into theoverall customer experience.Increasingly, the evolution ofchannel preference is forcingcompanies to diversify theircontact delivery options. To dothis, companies must internally –or seek out a vendor who can –capitalize on the expertise, abilityand knowledge needed to providethe best solution amid thismultichannel customer contactenvironment.According to a survey of 487contact center executives by theAberdeen Group, six customercontact channels are most widelyused. Among those, businessesrely on the following channelsmost often: phone (98%), email(96%), web (90%), IVR (76%),mail/fax (76%), and social media(55%). More than half of allcompanies surveyed use all six ofthese channels, Aberdeen noted.Pursuit of a multichannel modeldelivers real dividends, theanalysts reported."[B]usinesses following amultichannel customer carestrategy achieve more than twicegreater (9.7% vs. 3.9%) year-over-year improvement in customersatisfaction, compared to peersusing only a single channel,"Aberdeen wrote in its MultichannelContact Center Analyst Insightreport (November 2012).Multichannel ChallengesOrganizations often face amultitude of misunderstandings orroadblocks related to multichannelcontact solutions.These can range from:1. Poor talent recruitment andongoing training regardingcustomer interaction and eventhe client’s brand andmessaging;2.Not investing in requiredtechnology and infrastructureneeds;3.Underestimating total cost ofownership, which can rangefrom thousands to millions ofdollars.This lack of inherent knowledgeabout contact centers and theimplementation process also candelay – or even threaten theviability – of any project.Among the questions to ask whendesigning a center and its offeringsare:1.Has the organization selectedthe right channels based onresearch into customerdemographics and preferences?2.Has the organization hired theright team, both for domestic andinternational or multi-lingualcustomer needs?3.Has the organization created anongoing training program to keep
  4. 4. © The Outsourcing Institute 4agents versed in companystrategy, corporate tone andchannel management?4.Has the organization budgetedfor the endeavor’s short-termlaunch and long-term survival?Assessing Customer ChannelPreferencesProgram development begins withan assessment of customerchannel preferences. This can bedone by analyzing the use ofexisting resources to gather dataon current traffic and use patterns.Obtaining data and other usefulinformation can be done throughsurveys, focus groups andemployee input. Data collectedthrough every available channel –live voice, IVR, web self-service,email, SMS text, IM/web chat,social media and blogs – can beincorporated into an overallstrategic analysis.By analyzing available data, theorganization can determine whichchannels customers currently use– and how often they use them.It’s a dangerous proposition toassume that because certainchannels are not popular thatcustomers prefer not to use them.This could mean that the channelsare poorly implemented or in themidst of a customer adoptionperiod.Engaging a Consultant forPlanning a MultichannelApproachAfter gathering and analyzingavailable data, the next step is tostart forming an understanding ofthe current state of your customerservice/contact center processesand developing a vision for wherethe organization would like them tobe. As the organization transformsdata into intelligence to beactivated in its implementationplan, it might be wise to engage aconsultant or multichannel contactservice provider to help draft astrategic plan. A businessconsultant can conduct a businessprocess analysis to map out theorganizations current workflowand processes, and then sketchnew workflows to eliminateduplicate processes, improveefficiency and improve the ability toserve customers in each channel.The consultant also can help theorganization explore whether tomaintain or create a contact centeron-premises, or if an off-site or off-shore solution offering 24-hourservice will allow the organizationto better focus on corecompetencies. Otherconsiderations: Can an onshoredestination serve multiplelanguages? Does the organizationunderstand the training needsrequired to infuse agents withproduct, brand and companymessaging?The consultant also can helpconsider and identifycontingencies that may ariseduring the implementation of acenter, as well as the needs of agrowing organization or customerbase.
  5. 5. © The Outsourcing Institute 5Select Multichannel TechnologyBased on intelligence of customerneeds, should the contact centersolution encompass severalstand-alone services that willrequire some softwaredevelopment to make theminteroperable in an overall end-to-end solution, or should it engage asuite of services from a singlevendor? The business consultantcan assist with determining whichapproach to take, as well as thetechnology services that wouldbest fit the existing businessmodel.Among those technology solutionsto be considered are:Self-service: IVR or web-basedforms allow customers to solveproblems themselves.Universal queue and multi-routing capabilities: This offerscustomers the channel of theirchoice: voice, email, web chat,etc. No matter the channel used,the customer is routed to agentswho can support multichannelcontact from their laptop orworkstation.Performance reporting:Real-time and historical data tohelp supervisors effectively routecalls and manage workforce.Cloud-based solutions: Avoidhigh capital, infrastructure andother start-up costs. Scale quicklyto meet seasonal volumes. Agentscan work from any location withweb access.Third-party developer kits: Allowdevelopers to integrate andcustomize applications.Social Media Management:Monitoring and prioritizing socustomer concerns, complaintsand praise can quickly receiveresponses.Video connection: Somecustomers/business models mayrequire communication with agentsvia video conference.Implementation, Recruiting andTrainingConsultants can create highlydetailed, step-by-stepimplementation or transition plansfor a multichannel contact center.The transition plan assignsresponsibilities and deadlines foreach step. If moving an existingcontact center to a newoutsourced center, this ProcessMigration Methodology assures noloss of customer contact andservice.Agents should be selected basedon skills and capabilities. Whetherchoosing agents for centerslocated domestically or abroad,skills and capabilities may includetechnology awareness, multi-lingual capabilities and evenintangibles like personality and“people skills.”Agents then are trained to learnthe customer’s specific process,internal culture and “point of view.”Their training is bolstered byincentives that reward first-contactresolution, whether over IVR,email, web chat or social media, orby meeting sales quotas. By thetime agents take their first call,they are “an extension of thebrand.”The Hunt for ContinuousImprovementOrganizations should takeadvantage of the reporting toolsavailable to them (real-time,historical) and incorporate theminto a process strategy ofcontinuous improvement. A formalcontinuous improvement strategycan use scenario modeling to findways to make processes moreefficient; solicit feedback fromcustomers and agents to improvecustomer interaction and
  6. 6. © The Outsourcing Institute 6satisfaction; and apply continuousmonitoring of the market fortechnological improvements andproven contact-center bestpractices.ConclusionRaising customer satisfaction andquality interactions, while loweringcosts, all can be achieved with amultichannel contact center. Theeffort requires a skilled approachthat may incorporate a blendedsolution of outsourced servicecenters, cloud technologysolutions, a visionary team, andconsultants experienced in theimplementation of the idealsolution.Organizations hoping to explore amultichannel customer contactenvironment should assess theirinternal capabilities andweaknesses. Then, they shouldseek out prospective partners whocan mentor the organization and/ordeliver on needed skillsets andtechnology to improve on existingsolutions or to introduce newoptions. The result can be a finelyhoned network of services thatreaches customers, no matterwhere – or who – they are.About DATAMARKDATAMARK is a leadingprovider of multichannelcustomer contact centerservices, digital mailroom andmail center management, dataentry, document processingservices and business processre-engineering services forFortune 500 companies,government agencies andother large enterprises.Founded in 1989, the companyis the strategic businessprocess outsourcing ( BPO )partner for companies acrossnumerous industry sectors,including healthcare,insurance, banking andfinancial services, andtransportation and logistics.DATAMARK offers on-site,onshore and offshoreprocessing facilities, deliveringenterprise contentmanagement (ECM) andprocess-automationtechnologies and solutions tohelp organizations improveefficiency and profitability in allbusiness functions.
  7. 7. The Outsourcing Institute6800 Jericho Turnpike Suite 120 W Syosset NY 11791USAPhone: (516) 279-6850 - 712 Fax: (516) 706-2855www.outsourcing.comFor Targeted Outsourcing Sponsorship Programs Contact