First things first, it’s important to be honest here: your customers contact you because they need to and not because they want to.
These days there are many different ways customers can communicate with a business and your priority should be to make this as easy as possible.
It’s important to acknowledge that just because you prefer a certain way of communication doesn’t mean your customers do. An effective channel strategy means allowing your customers to communicate with you through their preferred communication channel so long as your business can support this.
It’s also worth bearing in mind your customer demographics. If you can only manage a smaller number of channels then look at your customer base to determine which ones will work better.
And remember, the easier it is for customers to contact you, the less stressful and time-consuming it will be for them too, which will result in fewer complaints.
Voice is still a preferred choice, so your contact number should be easy to find both on your website and on search engines.
If you have different departments, make it easy for customers to be transferred to the correct one quickly and easily, and where possible, make it a warm transfer. Unless you have high call volumes, a warm transfer should be offered every time.
- Main benefits: It’s usually quick and is great for urgent enquiries as they can often be dealt with immediately.
- Works best for: Baby Boomers & Generation X, who are used to communicating by phone.
The second most widely accepted contact method after voice. It’s easy to use, leaves a paper trail and is great for detailing lengthy enquiries.
Both you and your customers can also include different types of media within the email, whether it’s a PDF, photos or even a video.
- Main benefits: Emails are great for dealing with more complex queries and complaints due to the level of detail you can go into. Just make sure you deal with them in a timely manner.
- Works best for: Generation X, who are used to using email to communicate with businesses.
A live chat functionality is a great way to offer your customers support. It’s a preferred contact channel for millennials, who are used to using chat. Live chat can be proactive in dealing with sales enquiries as well as quickly dealing with simple customer service enquiries.
- Main benefits: Customers like live chat as it means they don’t have to call up and wait on hold to get an answer to their query. It’s much faster than email but not always instant, though most live chats are very quick to answer.
- Works best for: Generations X & Y, who are used more to talking via chat than on the phone.
When done well, chat bots can offer your customers support on a wide range of FAQ’s. Using advanced There are different types of chatbots, from command-based ones to intelligent AI chatbots that can be programmed to handle more complex queries.
Chatbots will often give immediate responses to your customers enquiries.
- Main benefits: Chatbots are really useful when dealing with simple & repetitive queries & because they are instant, they save your customer’s time.
- Works best for: Generation X & Y who are more used to talking via chat than on the phone.
With WhatsApp Business API you can offer your customers a verified customer support channel through WhatsApp. It’s been quickly adopted by some of the world’s best brands. As a messaging service it is used by over 2 billion people around the globe.
- Main benefits: WhatsApp allows you to have instant, richer 2-way conversations with your customers. Like with email, you can send documents, photos and videos or even printable QR codes for returns. Whereas email replies can be slow, WhatsApp replies are mostly within a matter of hours, if not instant.
- Works best for: Generation X, Y, and especially millennials, who are more used to WhatsApp conversations.
Using social media as a channel not only allows you to stay connected with your customers where they hang out, it also allows your business to become a brand where your customers will also endorse you for your products or services.
Because people spend so much time on social media, they automatically feel comfortable communicating with businesses this way too.
- Main benefits: It’s trusted, it’s easy to use and it’s where most people hang out on both their computers and their smartphones.
- Works best for: Generation Y and millennials, who feel comfortable communicating with a business through social media.
When choosing which communication channels you want to support your customers, keep in mind your customer base and which ones will be preferred by your customers.
Having a multichannel customer communication strategy will improve your overall customer experience when managed properly.
It’s important to consider how you will manage these extra channels. Do you have the manpower to reply to these messages? How will you store the messages for future reference? How will you manage when it’s out of office hours or during the holidays?