What is multi-channel customer support and how to provide it
Updated: Jan 13
Have you ever wondered why you decide on one company over another when choosing a product or a service? It usually goes like this: a. You think of something you need and then you search for different options online, b. You find the top three candidates and you begin to read the reviews, c. Everything looks great but something catches your eye that troubles you: “Awesome product, it has everything I need! BUT the customer service is impossible to reach - don’t bother”. You keep reading and you come to the conclusion that this company has terrible customer support. Without a second thought you move on to the next product. And just like that, they have lost a customer.
This scenario shouldn't happen to your company. Today, a client’s decision to buy is not only based on the quality of the product or the service, but also on the quality of the customer service itself. And the expectations are getting higher and higher as time goes by. Customers don’t only want to have their problems solved: they want to have them solved fast, and be able to choose how and when they reach out to you. In other words, they expect you to provide a full multi-channel support. But what exactly does that entail? And how you can make that work in your help desk software? Let’s find out.
What is multi-channel support
Multi-channel support is providing different methods of communication for your customers to reach you. This can include (but is not limited to) email, phone, chat, social media, knowledge base, etc. You will notice that while some clients enjoy the rapid response from live chat software, others will prefer to find the answers themselves via a knowledge base. Basically, the idea is that every customer has different ways of interacting with brands, and you want to be able to answer all of them with the same level of professionalism and agility. Not to mention that customer experience, just like anything else, is subject to trends that you simply cannot skip (unless you want to leave precious market shares to your competitors). For example, with an increased use of Facebook, Twitter and the like, we’ve seen over the last years a rise in the number of support requests on social media. It doesn't matter which way your customers reach you, the important thing to note here is that, thanks to your multi-channel platform, they can. Giving your customers the option to contact you in whichever way feels best for them is truly a win for everyone.
A small step for your customers, a giant leap for your company
At the core of multi-channel support is the idea that offering new means of communication will increase customer satisfaction and customer retention. If clients are able to easily reach you with any questions or concerns, they are likely to feel confident about purchasing your product. Being able to provide assistance in a timely manner assures your buyers that you are willing to help, and will only contribute to growing your sales and business.
But the benefits of multi-channel support go beyond customer satisfaction. Having everything centralized in one single platform makes it easier for your customer service team to work comfortably, and to deliver quick answers. No need to spend valuable time switching between channels to gather information - everything you need is right here in one place. And the speed in which you respond to a support request is key. For example, 42% of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within 60 minutes, and 32% even expect it within 30 minutes.
Choosing which channels to provide
Before opening your channels, take some time to pinpoint which might have the most traction and demand. For example, when you ask feedback from your customers on your existing channels or in other interactions, don’t forget to check if they need other support outlets. This demand can take many forms, from a formal request, to a more subtle remark like: “I feel much more comfortable talking about my issues than writing them down” (here, you understand that providing support by phone will be highly appreciated). Second, do some market research, exploring which channels make sense for companies like yours and your competitors’. You don't need to have a knowledge base if you’re a bakery in New York, but you will definitely benefit from opening up your social media channels.
Finally, you can take advantage of knowing the general pros and cons of each and every channel to decide which ones you’ll go with:
Phone support may be great for those customers who need to be walked through a certain process, such as learning how to perform a certain action in your software, but may fall short if the request is overly complex and requires further investigation.
Live chat will be best if you're answering questions that can be found on your knowledge base as you will be able to send them articles with steps to follow or if your clients need to reach you for something urgent. But don’t expect to use this for long conversations, for example, if you need to go over lengthy step-by-step instructions.
Email is important to exchange sensitive files or complex information, and to keep track of your conversation with your users. Though, it is likely that with this channel, you will spend more time going back and forth to exchange with your customers.
A knowledge base will be perfect for clients who do not want to reach out and who appreciate a library of information. This solution does not fit everyone’s needs though. Even the best of knowledge bases may be missing some articles or information, so make sure you offer complementary channels (email, phone, etc.).
Social media is ideal if your customers are active on the Internet and engage with you frequently via comments or direct messages. However, this medium requires you to be available on your smartphone any time of the day (or have somebody from your support team who is), as customers expect extra-fast answers here.
The best solution: an all-in-one multi-channel software
So what does it take to run an effective multi-channel support effort? A bullet-proof multi-channel help desk software like Wix Answers. This outstanding platform was originally built by Wix to serve its 150+ million users worldwide, and is now available for any company. It helps you provide top of the line multi-channel support to your customers using an integrated help desk, call center, and ticketing system. Because all of your inquiries via calls, emails and social media are in one place, it makes it easy for your agents to keep track of your customers and their support requests. Most importantly, other agents can also view and leave internal notes for these tickets - this will help to avoid confusion if the customer has reached out to you via different channels. Finally, with an integrated knowledge base, your team can easily tag and send articles to your customers without having to spend a lot of time and resources creating these instructions on the spot.
Consistency is the key
Ensuring that all of your channels are on the same page is key. Training your support team who work on different channels with the same information will ensure that all team members are on the same page regardless of which channel they monitor. So if a customer contacts your company via different outlets they will receive the same information. As a rule of thumb, an agent who provides email and chat support should also be able to provide phone and social media support.
An effective multi-channel support strategy can be the difference between increasing customer satisfaction and losing your customers due to a lack of support options available to them. Expanding your operations to include multi-channel support may be overwhelming at first, but the rewards you reap will surely outweigh the cost.
Ready to enjoy the benefits of multi-channel support? Try the most agile help desk software now!