The path to purchase is far more complex than ever before. Especially when two departments share the same goal – ie. to make a sale or provide customer service.
Websites are the storefront of modern commercial companies, built to handle everything from sales to service; the call-centre is supposed to enhance that experience, because of a much higher price, and not carry it alone.
The challenge of the website is most obvious: By moving customer service and the process of buying from the company to the consumer, through self-service interfaces. Thereby increasing the difficulty of actually buying. As the consumer has to figure out everything by themselves or be able to find that information, while still being persuaded to buy.
The challenge of the call-centre is primarily the high costs, leading to overworked staff and long queues on the phone.
The fight over budget, results and how to attribute the value of purchases across these several channels is also a challenge by itself. This can even lead to situations where the two, instead of working together, fight over leads. The question, then, is how do we make the two departments work well together, and have both reach their goals?
To answer this, let’s first dig deeper into the roles the call-centre and website serve to figure out how to optimize for an excellent customer experience.
Your website is your storefront, whether you are selling a product or generating leads, it’s the first thing that people search for. It needs to communicate effectively, give a good brand impression and customer experience. All of this needs to happen on very little real-estate, and it to be designed so that the customer can find information themselves. Even with elements personalised it’s extremely hard to cover every latent concern or objection a customer might have before committing to purchase. Therefore, sometimes your customers might have questions where talking to an actual person is the only solution. This leads to a situation where some customers demand the ability to do everything by themselves, in an easy way, online, where others demand assistance. And when people demand this assistance they too have different priorities: Some want to use a chat function (feels faster and more anonymous) and some want a phone call (I can feel a person in the other end).
In many companies, the call-centre is considered as a “cost centre” even though they drive a lot of revenue. The thought behind this is often, that you can drive every purchase that traditionally has been handled by the call-centre to the website at a much lower acquisition cost. And you can to a certain extent. But even companies that have high online conversion find that they can add additional sales over the phone, and, that there is a correlation between touch points of customer service and their lifetime value. Ie. customers that are more often in contact with your company are more likely to stay or become a customer again.
Unless they experience hell while trying to get help.
I have even heard of situations where the channel strategy determines that a call-in is about service and a call-back is about sales. That is honestly the wrong approach, even though it might make life easier for the company and the KPI’s of measurement. This is the type of a mindset, where you end up cluttering your entire service line, where the end resolution is bad customer service and revenue lost. As you can’t determine a customer’s intentions based on a call-in/call-back and their likelihood of converting. So there is a much bigger need of considering what is actually sales on sales channels and connecting that with the customer journey. There are much better ways of going about this. For starters to assign intent based on from where or how the customer is initiating contact with the company. And, in the long run, it shows a mindset where customer service is regarded as a cost centre, not a source of revenue increase.
This is the tricky part: You need to identify what the preferences are for your visitor in order to determine when to focus your efforts where. When the consumers should have an online journey or when they need assistance from the call-centre. The challenge in this situation is then identifying when we need to let people make use of the online journey or how the call-centre can be a prolonged arm of the commercial aspects of the website. It’s also important to note, that the customer doesn’t always choose the best channel for themselves or the company, so therefore they often need to be “nudged” in the right direction.
What’s more important is that by evaluating when you offer what to who you can nudge an online behaviour that previously resulted in a redundant call – and likewise make sure that those who need a conversation before buying has a better experience of doing so.
By working targeted with evaluating the online customer journey, and when it results in a contact to the contact centre you can free up time in the call centre and thereby have them focused on generating revenue – even increasing the amount of relevant time they spend on leads.
Honestly, it’s not an easy challenge to overcome, but you can start out by creating a strategy where you make sure online and offline is aligned with the value created from each channel. Map out why people are calling, figure out when they are calling and then you can start planning the online nudging accordingly. By combining the information and knowledge of the call-centre you can start to improve the online journey by incorporating often asked question elements on the website.
As a company, you need to be able to cater to all your customers based on their preferences. That is why you need your website and call-centre to both work together for the best service and commercial experience. Both channels need to compliment each other a lot to make sure you don’t overload the most expensive channels. And of course making sure both website and call-centre work together towards a common goal which is maximising sales and giving the best customer experience.
One approach, in this case, is to strengthen the digital journey with intelligent engagements that help identify when and where help is needed.
Want to hear more about it? Contact me for some more information.