According to a forecast by Forrester.com, channel shift tops the list of 2015 top trends in the customer service industry. Compared to the previous year, the use of web self-service has surpassed voice calls for the first time. They believe that this trend will continue as more and more customers will prefer support types that are easy to do on their own. A channel shift not only ensures faster access to products and service, but also achieves customer satisfaction at reduced maintenance costs. Although there may be differences in the survey results released by various bodies, it cannot be denied that the shift in channels is on the rise.
Of all the multiple channels that are available, around 30% growth is evident in smart phones, websites and social networks. More often than not, 60% of customers use multiple channels instead of sticking to just one. Therefore when planning a channel shift strategy, identifying customer demographic uses and needs is crucial.
Common Barriers to Digital Change
Introducing digital change into any organisation is a process that takes time and resources. Any kind of change is always faced with resistance, doubts and challenges before it can be implemented.
Below is a list of the various potential barriers to digital change and their equivalent solutions.
Barrier One: Organisation leaders are afraid to take the risk. They are afraid of what the outcome will be. This is because the probability of failure in creating a new system cannot be totally eliminated, however it can be kept in control. They are also concerned about the security and other related risks when uploading information online.
The solution: plan the digital change strategy as a holistic business strategy, taking into account the key decision makers involved, looking at ways on how to get them involved in the project and maintaining constant communication between relevant departments. Identify the other factors that are critical for the project to be successful, including change in the culture of how the organisation deals with its customers. Set outcomes and expectations of the project, as well as breakdown goals for each categories.
Barrier Two: Existing services and integration were not designed for digital channels. Most businesses that have call centres have their support design focused on call centres and relying mostly on telecom agents. Shifting to a digital platform requires a totally different design. System integration may need to go on a larger scale when implemented on web channels, as compared to the limited access to calls.
The solution: divide the project into bite-sized pieces. Start with small pilot projects that can bring results and cool any judgments set by others. This will also influence and convince decision makers to support the project further. Integration should also be designed to work across digital and non-digital channels. For example, capturing customer data and case creation can both be done online and offline.
Barrier Three: Digital access entails higher security risks. This means that verifying customer identity and credibility must first be ensured.
The solution: have customer verifications with easy to remember usernames like email addresses. Customer identity verification can only be done on cases where information is highly sensitive or has high business impact.
Companies that have succeeded by using Channel Shift
Despite the barriers and risk, the benefits of channel shift strategies can still outweigh the negatives in the long run. In fact, many companies are already reaping these benefits that not only improve savings but also enhance customer interaction and increased customer value.
Take the example of the Berkely Group, a housing developer that has created websites that give an ideal customer experience. As more and more people search for homes through online search engines, their websites feature virtual tours and comprehensive information about a property. Their web content is strategically targeted and house buyers are provided complete information that they can request at anytime. The result of the shift is increased number of enquiries, house viewing and brochure requests, and registrations. The conversion rates have also increased because of these changes.
Brittany Ferries, a well-renowned French ferry operator focused on providing top-notch customer experience through their online platforms. This resulted to an increase in the number of bookings, higher level of customer satisfaction, and significant savings in call center maintaining costs. Recently, the company has already implemented channel shift in 75% of their ferry bookings, equivalent to 275% return on investment. They have also launched a mobile platform to reach out to even more customers.
In the public sector in the UK, the differences in channel costs are apparent. A face-to-face contact costs around £8, a call interaction costs around £3 while web transactions only costs as little as £0.15. The Basildon Borough Council is one of the bodies that saw the need to invest in channel shift to get savings. With a target return on investment was at least £1 million, they looked into how having website integrations can reduce administrative costs and responsibilities so that council staff can focus on frontline services. The council’s willingness to explore possibilities paid off because their ROI has exceeded their target by multiple times more.
In the financial service sector, McKinsey & Company are business strategy consultants that have made case studies in this sector. According to them, retail banking groups in the UK are also striving to provide online and mobile services and reduce the number of staff in physical branches. Recent trends show that countries like Norway, Finland and Sweden have online transactions by up to 75%. US counterparts go up to 50% while in the UK it’s around 40%.
Digital transformation is not just about looks. Maximized user experience can lead to increased sales, reduced overhead and customer service cost and increased customer engagement and brand consciousness.Times are changing as more and more consumers increase their time and activity online. Shoppers and users have also become more budget conscious in purchasing products and services. Hence, channel shift is the answer to providing quality services and vital information to people. This process is applicable to any industry, and though there are some challenges, most companies who have already made the leap are now reaping the rewards.