Which Channel Do Customers Trust the Most?
If you’re in Customer Service, you’ve heard of omnichannel—in fact, you’re probably sick of the term. If you haven’t heard of it, think of omnichannel as a seamless experience for the customer across all channels. So if a customer begins buying an item online, but chooses to call the company to enter the payment information, the live agent should not need to completely restart the order. Your customer doesn’t want to keep repeating the same information – don’t be Dory from Finding Nemo. This concept is easy to understand, and the technology isn’t the real challenge.
The challenge is the human interface, both the consumer wanting (or not wanting) omnichannel integration, and the agent actually incorporating all channels in the right way. If done correctly, the agent should be able to create a seamless experience and understand a customer’s communication history as well as the customer. Omnichannel is a nice buzzword, and many corporations will invest in it, but it will be a long time before everyone is doing it well.
With the addition of more channels and pseudo omnichannel service, companies should be asking questions like: Which channels do customers prefer to use most often? Do certain channels illicit more honesty? Which channels do customers most trust? Which channels do customers perceive as low-effort? In asking these questions, a company is sure to realize that today’s “tech-savvy” consumers produce very different results than previous generations.
But why do we ask? The answer to these questions influences how you and your company choose to manage channels in the most efficient and successful way possible. You can then make alterations as needed and focus on which channels should be used for which transactions. The end goal: creating the best customer experience possible. When one channel is proven more popular than another, your company can dedicate additional time to improving that channel over others, in order to offer the best service where it will be most used. However, it is kind of like a balancing act; you also have to keep all channels in check, and never let any fall too far behind, as we discussed in our blog “Three Reasons to Pay Attention to Your Weakest Channel.”
Customers Text Honestly
Voice of the Customer (VOC) is an integral part of many customer service organizations’ strategies, but it is most useful when the responses are truthful. So for companies looking to receive honest feedback on their services or products, it is essential to hone the channel that will illicit the most honest answers from their customers. Studies show that people are more likely to answer questions truthfully when responding via text than over the phone. They are also more likely to give accurate answers to numerical questions when doing so via text. This finding holds even when people are in busy situations and multitasking, and when they know they are texting a live agent and not just a computer. This could be because people feel less likely to be judged for their answers when communicating over text, or perhaps they think telling a fib over the phone is different than typing out a lie that could be brought up again later. Regardless of why they do it, knowing this about how customers might interact with your company can inform how you plan to communicate with them. So perhaps next time you try asking feedback questions, do it via text message instead. You’ll likely get a more accurate and honest answer, which can help you be more transparent with other customers. New texting platforms, such as our newest solution Avail, improve the accuracy of survey results and more.
Customers Trust Other Customers
Texting platforms are practical because a huge majority of the population use text messaging every day, but websites and social media obviously are also very popular. Marketing strategy has become closely tied to customer service because first impressions influence the entire customer experience. Consumers are relying more and more on user-generated content (UGC), product reviews, and recommendations from friends, and less on information from the company. More than half of Americans trust UGC over information presented on a company website. Thus, with a continued emphasis on what fellow customers are doing and saying, social media has become a much larger factor. Integrating social media channels into a company’s marketing strategy has proven effective in increasing sales and customer loyalty. A customer is 71% more likely to purchase a product when referred by social media. And because UGC is influential in the purchasing process, it is important that the feedback from consumers is honest and accurate. The solution? Increase the ways in which customers can communicate with your company, perhaps through text or automated surveys, and compare the data to your social media page. Use this information to your advantage and address any inconsistencies in service.
Customers Ultimately Trust Voice
While websites and social media sites are increasingly popular and trusted, in the end, customers choose whatever channel they think will require the least amount of effort and solve their issue. More than half of customers begin their transactions online, perhaps with the idea that it will require the least amount of effort, but if the issue isn’t resolved quickly, or they find themselves unable to complete the task at hand in a timely manner, they quickly reach for the phone. Ultimately, almost 70% of issue resolutions occur through voice. This reaffirms the notion that while a company must continue to add channels through which it communicates with customers, a phone call is still the most important resource for a customer. Thus, even though consumers are now using more channels than before, many of which are social, it doesn’t mean that voice is dead. In truth, other channels probably make voice more important because that’s where many customers end up.
But the reach of the current channels and the number of channels will continue to expand, with some overtaking or perhaps incorporating others over time. This will happen as the demographic changes and the customer experience evolves. But for now, be sure to update your Twitter and revisit your voice self-service technology, because giving your customers more choices is never a bad thing.