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The effortless experience: providing channel flexibility

August 15, 2018By

In his latest post, Dave introduced the concept of the Effortless Experience, a customer service framework that limits customer effort in each interaction. This method is composed of four key pillars: channel flexibility, next issue avoidance, engineered experiences and empowered front-line staff. In this post, Dave dives into the first pillar to demonstrate the importance of providing a seamless service experience across all channels.

When it comes to service, there are a variety of channels that customers can choose to get the information they need. These include phone, chat, social media, text message, website and customer portal, just to name a few. With all these options available it's tricky for customers to know which channel is best. They may not know, for example, that a technical issue is easily resolved with a knowledge article, while a billing issue is better handled over the phone. Even with all these channels, the Effortless Experience research shows that 57% of inbound service callers tried to resolve their issue online first, and 34% of all callers are online trying to simultaneously resolve their issue. This isn't a huge surprise considering the research also shows customers prefer self-service and will go out of their way to use it. In fact, I recently spoke with a large B2C organization that confirmed this statistic: more than 60% of their inbound service calls had already tried to find the answer online.

Where the effort comes in

When was the last time you hopped online to quickly resolve an issue with your cell phone, oven or even your car? You probably made your way to the company's website, searched for your issue and were served too many potential solutions to sift through. From there, you may have scoured the website for a customer service number, waited on hold and then re-explained your issue. Perhaps the service rep couldn't provide an answer at the first touch point, so they followed up with an email. By the end of the process, you've likely touched at least four different service channels and re-explained yourself so many times that you've become frustrated by the amount of effort you've had to put into the service interaction. This isn't an uncommon experience. Research shows 56% of customers report having to re-explain their issue to a following customer service agent, and 62% had to repeatedly contact the same company to resolve an issue. Experiences like this can result in customers being four times more likely to become disloyal. While your customers may understand that channel switching can (at times) be a part of customer service, it's how you remove their effort and guide them through the process that will drive their loyalty.

Making channel switching effortless

The Effortless Experience recommends guiding your customers between channels and tracking the information they've given you. Salesforce's Service Cloud and Web-to-Case functionality make this much easier:

  1. Create a form to collect key information about a potential issue
  2. Serve up only the three most relevant knowledge articles to help resolve an issue
  3. Create a case automatically (using the information entered in step one) or pre-populate an online chat so customers don't have to repeat themselves
  4. Match the customer phone number when they call in, allowing you to pull up their case and associated details

It's pretty easy to see the difference in effort between this example and the one in the section above. For me, it comes down to the simple principle of “less is more” and making it easy for your customers to find the information they're looking for. Making service easier for your customers may mean more upfront effort for you, but there are a few best practices that can help you along the way.

  • Simplify your website to guide customers to the information they're looking for
  • Clarify your information and make it is easy for your customers to understand it
  • Let customers know where they can get service and don't make them figure it out on their own

As you move forward to increase channel flexibility take a look at how your service systems connect. Disparate systems can create effort for the customer as they jump from web to phone to email, unable to find the information they need, all the while re-explaining their issue throughout the process. On the other hand, an integrated service experience guides customers to the channels that provide the best service, at the same time providing agents with the necessary information to keep the conversation moving at every touch point.

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