Why companies engage in Multi Channel Services

It is imperative to understand the reasoning behind why companies engage in multi channel services. To do this it is firstly important to learn of the disadvantages of having just one channel such as the telephone which for many years was the backbone of the customer service industry. It has been proven that a large percentage of customer queries have a large degree of predictability as it is mostly common difficulties that all customers will share therefore it is very expensive to justify having a call center laden full of employees when queries could be answered cheaper and more effectively  without any loss of customer satisfaction. Also with telephone customer service there are many opportunities for misinterpretation, frustration and the personality factor which can result in your customer switching to another company.

 As companies began to experience these inefficiencies of cost and personnel they began to turn towards the idea of engaging in self services. This describes creating a system whereby customers answer there own queries through logical algorythmic steps. The Internet was the key enabler of this trend when companies began there self service solutions with static Frequently Asked Questions pages. Such systems have now evolved into dynamic self service centres online such as http://www.lexisnexis.com/custserv/ which is an expansive online system that brings customers through many different options and if a customer is not then satisfied they are redirected to customer service representatives.

 Online Self Service also provides the potential to make dramatic improvements in an organisation's agent productivity. This, coupled with a more informed, knowledge-seeking and independent consumer, will continue to drive service to the Web. However such a system can not effectively stand alone. They will need analysis by the company in order to research customer queries and will also need the support of live representatives who offer an answer to customers when the system cannot answer there queries.

 Automation, optimization and integration  are key terms when engaging in Self Service CRM. As it is there to solve a majority of queries the company need to optimize that majority. This will only be achieved through having years of experience in the industry and extensive knowledge of the company / product. As self-service is the cheapest form of CRM per customer it is a must for a company to invest wisely.

 Integration occurs when certain contact channels are used in conjunction with each other to maximise customer satisfaction. For example a customer might have used the self service system with no effect; he/she will then wish to further the query and will look for ways to do so. Mostly by today’s standards he/she will have the option of e-mailing or phoning representatives. Integration also more importantly refers to the back-end integration of a companies systems which will allow for single storage of customer information and queries which is accessible by different systems. For example if a customer rings with a query and wishes to follow up earlier queries which were sent via the website or by email then all of that information should be available to the customer service representative at the time of the phone call.

 An interactive multi channel customer interaction hub is associated with high initial investment costs as well as continual investment needs as the system progresses. Therefore a company must justify the costs with regard expected customer satisfaction more so that company harmony. In the short and long term it is a business solution to a customer need therefore it will need to be developed as such. Companies will agree that customer retention is the cheapest form of acquisition therefore the development of efficient customer interaction services as well as employing a well trained workforce will ensure high levels of customer retention.