Businesses Urged To Invest In Multi-Channel Customer Support

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Report claims social media and cross-channel customer support conversations are in high demand from users, especially in emerging markets

A new report from BT Global Services and Avaya claims businesses must be prepared to offer multi-channel customer support, especially in emerging markets which place higher importance on social media than traditional methods of communication.

A survey of more than 5,500 people across Belgium, China, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, Spain, UAE, UK and USA found ‘autonomous customers’, those who use online materials to determine buying decision and prefer to deal with businesses themselves, are happy to do so but demand instant and satisfactory customer service when necessary.

The key trend identified was the need to have communications systems in place that can switch between phone, online and social media platforms as a conversation progresses.

Multi-channel communication

touch screen smartphoneGlobally, online customer service such as web chat is the most demand form of support with 71 percent demanding such a channel, but just under two thirds want to be able to switch between web chat, telephone and social media.

In the UK, 79 percent of respondents believe organisations should offer different channels, a figure which rises to 91 percent in China, 89 percent in the UAE and 87 percent in India, and drops to 69 percent in Germany any 58 percent in Belgium.

Indeed, just 53 percent of British customers and 45 percent of Germans will turn to Facebook for an answer compared to  88 percent in India, 87 percent in the UAE and 90 percent in Indonesia. Of course, Facebook is blocked in China.

Opportunities

“Organisations have to align themselves with rapidly changing consumer expectations,” says Dr Nicola Millard, head of customer insight and futures at BT Global Services. “Transactional websites and mobile apps – along with social media – put organisations in the position of having to support customers 24/7. The digital world lives ‘in the moment’ and puts consumers in control. Customer service has to follow suit.”

The report says the benefits are great, with 90 percent of Chinese respondents buying goods and services from companies that make it easier to deal with, along with 84 percent of Indians, 82 percent of Americans and 73 percent of Brits.

“Autonomous customers invest time and effort to make a purchase decision. When they hit an issue they can’t resolve, they want an answer from the organisation there and then,” says Garry Veale, president, Europe, Avaya. “Expectations are high. Three quarters of consumers expect a customer service agent to be instantly aware of their details and history, across all channels.”

Ofcom publishes regular customer service and complaints figures for communications providers across the UK in a bid to provide consumers with as much information as possible when selecting broadband, landline and mobile services.

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