The Customer Service Representative Across Channels
POSTED : July 27, 2012
BY : PK

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 Customer Service Representative Across Channels

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.

Summary

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.

Recommendations

  • 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.
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