Intrado Resources

Multichannel Customer Care in the Communications Industry

Peter Wulfraat, VP at West Interactive Services, talks about how consumers expectations are evolving, and how companies might better bridge the gap to provide services in consumers’ channel of choice.


Well, so why is multichannel becoming a really hot topic in today's customer service environment, especially within the voice video and data communication space? I think you know, as you look across businesses today, the fundamental principles have not changed. Its growth, its profitability, its acquisition, its retention, it's doing all that in a profitable manner from a communications perspective. It's about delivering the best entertainment experience, the best online experience possible through the services that those companies deliver at the marketplace.

So that hasn't necessarily changed from a competitive landscape perspective, but what has changed and what continues to evolve are the consumers, and the consumers' expectations with how they choose to communicate these days and who they choose to share their wallet with. And with that comes the emergence of mobility, with that comes the emergence of my time, my channel, my choice type, interaction desires from a consumer base. And with that, there are a lot of companies who are struggling to bridge the gap from how they have traditionally delivered customer service to how consumers are demanding that customer services rendered today.

And with that comes the need for more mobility, more channel of choice, and adapting, I would say, policies, procedures, and capabilities to better suit today's consumer, who is demanding more of the companies they do business with. So, for many companies, there's a journey at hand, which is how do I go from siloed one-off interactions with my customer base to a more unified "I know who you are, I can predict why you're reaching out to me, and I can resolve your issue first time." That in itself is a journey, and the steps along the way are first identifying, first of all, am I addressing the customers need by providing the core channels in which they want to do business with me? That's number one. And then often times you have to supplement and add new channels in the mix.

The second part of the journey is, what are my internal or my internal IT capabilities versus where do I need to bring partners to bear to start looking at my environment and help guide me on how to glue things together, for lack of a better term? And then once you have that plan down, it's how do I instrument all of this without disrupting my customer base? And in doing, so in a seamless manner where it's just a very natural thing and the customers are surprised and delighted.

So one day they call into an IVR, and they're presented with a menu, why are you calling, A, B, or C, and they get off to the right place in the call center or the right piece of automation. The next day they call in, and they say, "Hi, Jim. Thanks for your three years of service. I noticed yesterday you called in about your bill, good news that payment has gone through. Is there anything else I can help you with?" Very, very simple things within existing channels that pull relevant data across from other parts of the organization, I think, is a key differentiator in delivering a customer experience that reduces customer effort, and that's really key today.