The way customers contact companies is changing. They now approach you through every channel and where you used to just have a physical store, you now communicate through countless channels. How do you effectively deploy a multichannel strategy?

Research by McKinsey shows that customers use an average of three to five different channels before they get a solution to their problem. Can you offer a good customer experience when you are not present on all those channels?

While voice is still very popular as a contact channel, you can no longer ignore other methods such as live chat and social media.

We’ll dig a little deeper and tell you what a multichannel contact center is and how you use it to strengthen your customer relationships.

What is multichannel customer contact?

In a multichannel contact center, agents interact with customers through different channels, but each channel operates in isolation. Multichannel includes voice, email, SMS, web forms, live chat and social media.

What are the advantages of multichannel customer contact?

A multichannel strategy has a number of advantages:

  • You are present on your customer’s preferred channel and increase the customer experience.
  • Agents can help several customers at the same time.
  • The speed of your customer service will increase.

What are the disadvantages of multichannel customer contact?

But there are also a number of disadvantages surrounding multichannel customer contact:

  • It is a lot of work to keep track of all channels.
  • New social media channels are regularly added, which you have to implement again.

There is a solution for those drawbacks: omnichannel customer contact . With omnichannel you integrate all your contact channels (including your physical store!) into one customer environment.

The biggest challenge in building a multichannel contact center

When done right, a multichannel contact center is a win-win for both your business and your customers. We all know it’s the future, but why are so many companies still going wrong?

That’s because many companies find it difficult to deliver an integrated customer experience across all their channels.

When you integrate everything properly, all your customer communication is bundled in one interface and your agents always see all available information, regardless of which channel they are on.

So they don’t have to go through an entire Facebook chat when a customer asks something, because all contact for your agent runs through the same screen.

However, many companies look to this against digitization, leaving them behind their competitors. In addition, it is important to make good use of your data and to have a 360-degree customer view .

What is the difference between a multichannel and omnichannel?

There are a number of differences between a multichannel and an omnichannel contact center, but both leave call centers behind.

In the table below you can see the characteristics and functionalities of a multi- and an omnichannel contact center.

How do you make good use of multichannel for your company?

But how do you know how to properly use all those channels and on which channels you need to be present? Ask your customers!

Knock on the marketing department, interview your customers or send out a survey to find out what your customers actually want. It is important that you contrast their answers with reality.

If you expect a high call volume, adding an extra channel is not so handy. Make sure to reduce the pressure on the queues before trying something else.

Suppose a customer has problems with his smartphone. In that case, there is a chance that he will not want to talk to an agent. You may be better off using live chat. An additional advantage is that one agent can help three, four or even five customers at the same time!

This is good for your customer satisfaction and it lowers your call volumes.

How do you manage multichannel customer contact?

You could set up a different agent for each contact channel, but is that really that effective? When you choose a multichannel contact center you will have to take a number of things into account:

1. Make sure you put the customer first

We like to voice our opinion and we do that even faster online. Nothing is more annoying than a customer who leaves a negative opinion about you on Twitter, so you have to get ahead of that negativity.

Your customer just wants to vent, so give him that chance too. Did you know that more than 60% of companies often do not respond to a customer request?

Actively look for signals from your customers. Keep an eye on Social Media trends and react proactively to every expression of a customer. Measure your CSAT, your customer satisfaction, your NPS and the average handling time.

Make sure that you make decisions based on data and that you know exactly where your areas for improvement are.

2. Be consistent!

A customer who gets a quick answer via live chat also expects the same via email. We are all used to being in constant contact with each other and that has changed our expectations of companies.

More than half of people say they expect to get answers from companies 24/7. Are you not occupied at night in your contact center? Then consider using a chatbot to reduce the ‘waiting feeling’.

Don’t differentiate between channels and make sure you offer the same service on all your channels.

3. Don’t go for multichannel, but for omnichannel

You want to be available at all times and on every channel, but you don’t feel like doubling the number of agents and also working shifts at night? You are very right.

With multichannel contact center software you make your life and that of your agents a lot easier.

Use live chat to quickly respond to customer questions, program a chatbot to distribute your customer contact and run the best reports.

This way you take a lot of pressure off your customer service team and your agents have more breathing room to give your customers all the attention. A win win!

All-in-one customer contact software

For a while, multichannel seemed to be all the way, but because it is so much work to keep an eye on all contact channels, many companies have switched to an omnichannel strategy.

Omnichannel customer contact is best kept up with software such as Steam-connect.

All incoming contacts, regardless of channel, enter Steam-connect and are presented to your employees in one screen. This applies, for example, to telephone, e-mail , chat and contact forms , but also to the social media channels that you want to maintain.

You decide which requests you want in the workload of your employees and in which way.

This way you can be sure that all contact requests are handled quickly and efficiently and every customer is helped quickly. Optimal for all parties!