Interaction channels offer different ways or interacting with customer and resolving their cases. Below topics describe the use cases, costs, and advantages of various Interaction channels. Each channel is used to match different customer needs.

When it comes to customer service channels supported in contact centers, inbound phone systems continue to be the most common, at 95.1 percent, followed, in order, by email (92.7 percent), white mail (87.8 percent), social media (82.9 percent), and fax (61 percent). Other channels include interactive voice response systems (53.7 percent) and chat (22 percent)

Additionally, two-thirds of companies offer interactive Web channels, where customers can post questions and get responses or use keyword searches or other interactive tools to help them find information quickly.

There are various types of interaction channels:

  • Bidirectional channels support instant two-way interactions between customers and the organization. They include:
    • Traditional one-on-one or physical channels such as talking to a representative in-person or by telephone, or browsing in a physical store
    • Digital channels such as websites, mobile and tablet apps, text messaging, social media, live chat, and email. Digital channels are accessed through computing devices such as smartphones, computers, tablets, smartwatches, or smart thermostats.
  • Unidirectional channels are not immediately interactive; they usually support one-way communication from customers to organizations or vice versa. Examples include postal mail, print and TV advertisements, and packaging. (Techniques like QR codes can serve as “semi-live hyperlinks” that put a smidgen of reverse directionality into otherwise unidirectional channels.)

The main Interaction channels that a call center deals with are Phone, Email, Chat, Paper, Web and Social Media. Calls are very expensive among these channels and hence the availability of Interaction channels other than the phone is known as Call Deflection.

  • Phone (Normal and IVR):
    • Use Cases
      • Resolve a complex issue or problem
      • Perform an important inquiry.
      • Need to Solve a problem at a faster pace to avoid business impact.
      • A guided walkthrough is needed for troubleshooting an issue.
      • The customer is remote and does not have access to the Internet.
    • Costs incurred
      • High
      • The agent will be struck with a single customer and will not be able to serve other requests.
      • As a contact center has limited agents wait times may increase and the cost incurred to the customer may raise.
      • Soft skills training of support reps may be required which incurs a huge cost.
      • CTI Integration may be needed which may blow up the costs further.
    • Advantages
      • Agents can get hold of the issue more quickly by talking to the impacted customer
      • It will result in high First Call Resolution as the agent can gather the required information at once.
      • All the customer complaints can be responded to/promised to be taken care before these get escalated.
      • Customer satisfaction increases by providing first call resolution and quality information about the issue and personal conversation and empathy is always helpful in raising the brand value.
      • It allows real-time interaction between agents and customers
      • Builds customer loyalty by allowing close contact and interpersonal relationships in several industries where trust is important.
  • .Chat
    • Use Cases
      • Suitable to low complex issues and inquiries
      • Non-urgent issues that can wait.
      • Suitable for customers who browse companies websites.
    • Costs incurred
      • Medium
      • Agents can handle multiple chats at one time, which reduces overall cost.
      • If Proper Knowledgebase is in place, these can be shared with the customer for quicker resolution and fewer callbacks resulting in lower cost.
      • Increases potential for upselling and cross-selling.
      • Increases overall return on investment by increasing average order value.
    • Advantages
      • Customer may receive lower wait time as agents will be in a position to handle more chats.
      • Template responses can be created and used by agents for responding quickly.
      • Agents can refer the customers to existing knowledge articles for explaining and solving issues quickly.
      • Cases can be created from live chat conversation.
      • Agents get more time to prepare responses when compared to Phone
      • Agents can involve SMEs, Supervisors as and when required for providing a seamless support to the customers.
      • Live chat increases call deflection by being another low-cost real-time support channel.
  • Email
    • Use Cases
      • Suitable for low complex issues and inquiries.
      • Common issues that do not require live interaction.
      • Issues that are not urgent to the customer.
    • Costs incurred
      • High
      • Individual response for each email may be required.
      • In many instances back and forth conversations happen that lead to a waste of time for both agents and customers.
      • No major pieces of training are required (sometimes email etiquette training may be needed).
    • Advantages
      • Templates can be used for consistent and efficient communication and can be used for responding quickly.
      • Email responses can be scheduled as opposed to the other channels like phone or chat.
      • It is an asynchronous form of communication that gives agents adequate time for preparation.
      • Email channel does not depend on 24/7 availability of support reps.
      • Effects of language and timezone barriers are reduced when using this channel.
  • Paper (White Mail)
    • Use Cases
      • Suitable for requests that need Customer’s signature. In Salesforce, if you need to whitelist a domain (owned by another vendor), signed documentation may be needed.
      • Any contract or legal information that needs to be sent to the customer.
      • Company’s customer base does not have access to email services.
    • Costs incurred
      • High
      • Each piece of information needs to be dealt with separately
      • Requires more time for preparation.
      • Many dependencies (collecting signatures, dispatching etc) are involved while preparing the content.
    • Advantages
      • Templates can be used.
      • Work can be scheduled and performed at a particular time in a day.
      • Can be used to serve a broader customer base that includes those who do not have access to email and other channels.
  • Website
    • Use Cases
      • Suitable for contact centers that have proper Knowledgebase, well-documented product information and a rich set of forums.
      • Customers can create and access cases on the Company’s website.
    • Costs incurred
      • Low
      • Self-service can be enabled that reduces overall support cost.
      • Chat can be enabled on this channel to further reduce cost.
    • Advantages
      • Enables 24/7 support by allowing the customer to self-serve or create cases.
      • Case resolution steps can be followed by the customer through the web.
      • Questions by customers can be converted to cases.
      • Increases call deflection.
  • Social Media
    • Use Cases
      • Can broadcast to the larger groups.
      • Customer interactions across social channel can be monitored and solutions can be provided.
    • Costs incurred
      • Low
      • Low training costs
      • No extra cost involved for social media support.
    • Advantages
      • Wide Reach
      • All the company announcements can be published across channels.
      • Social media posts can be converted to cases.
      • Valuable customer insights about products and service can be generated
      • It makes customers life easier to connect with the company.

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