The Customer Service Representative Across Channels
Today’s article continues the conversation we began in our POV, Customer Service in a Multi-Channel World. In that POV, we talked about the need for a unified customer experience across all channels. Merchants who are designing strategies and implanting technology in a channel-centric manner will miss today’s customer whose path to finalizing a purchase transcends channels.
Frustrating today’s customer is the fact that they find a different set of skills and a different behavioral tone in each channel. To succeed in the future, retailers must find a way to level the playing field so that the same person-to-person service is provided whether the customer is in the store, on the phone with a CSR, using chat or receiving a Tweet.
The difference in tone and behavior across channels came to my attention when I used Nordstrom’s Twitter stream to ask for recommendations on a new raincoat. From Twitter, I received enthusiastic comments like “Cute – love the toggles!” I moved to online chat for a few more product details, and suddenly the standard dry tone of a chat session sounded cold and not quite appropriate for a cute red raincoat with toggles. I asked whether the coat would be long enough to cover my legs in the rain. The Chat representative replied with the coat’s measurements. I asked the same question on Twitter, and the customer service representative tried on the coat herself, conferred with co-workers and then tweeted me that it fell just below the knees. Both answers were accurate – but the Twitter representative made the online interaction personal and fun, and, by comparison, the chat experience that I would previously have found adequate suddenly paled and was no longer as satisfying.
Below is a comparison of the customer service representative across channels. Each channel has its strengths and challenges, and each will be impacted by coming trends and the customer’s expectation of a seamless cross-channel shopping experience.
Though the training and operating processes of the sales force may need to be channel-specific to account for the unique qualities of each channel, the customer’s experience not only transcends channels but often includes back-to-back conversations with customer service across channels. Therefore, the sales force must have the training, technology and information necessary to provide a consistent experience throughout the customer’s purchasing journey.
- Share channel-specific promotions and content calendars across channels with all staff.
- Align sales force behavioral expectations across channels and examine hiring practices to ensure all staff, regardless of channel, can deliver personalized and effective service.
- Remove internal organizational structures that promote a channel-centric culture.
- Invest in the technology and operational changes necessary to provide data sharing and inventory availability across channels.
For more information
- Read other PK Blogs to learn about useful tools to manage your social presence and implanting mobile in your cross channel strategy.