Embrace Digital Channels to Drive Transformation

The term “digital channels” has become core to the contact center lexicon recently, and for good reason. Much of this pertains to how the adoption of relatively new communication channels is impacting the customer experience (CX) landscape, and contact center leaders need to respond. The starting point is to understand what this term actually involves, and how these channels are being used.

Embracing digital channels is important, not just for providing a better CX today, but also for transforming the very nature of customer service. Here are the basic concepts that define digital channels and customer engagement.

Learn more about Upstream Works omnichannel contact center solutions here.

Customer Engagement Across Digital Channels

Many contact centers are still call centers, and while the transition to omnichannel is ongoing, the focus is generally voice and adding other traditional channels, such as email. As demographics trend younger, digital natives now represent a major segment across all markets, and their CX expectations are much different. Not only are they comfortable with omnichannel communication, but they have strong preferences for digital channels. For these customers, telephony call center tends to be a last resort for customer service – especially landlines – so their communications needs will be much different than with digital immigrants.

Before considering which digital channel(s) you need to pay attention to for customer loyalty, it’s important to note that these channels aren’t all that new – they’re just new for the call center. Digital natives have been using them routinely in their social circles, and it’s only natural for them to expect to use them for customer service.

The mix of communication channels will vary more now, as digital communication channels become more widely used for customer service. Below are leading examples of the list of digital channels that contact centers can be adopting in order to engage with customers based on their preferences. Add these new digital communication channels and find the best fit for your customer demands.

  • Email
  • Web Chat
  • SMS
  • Messaging
  • Social Media
  • Co-browse
  • Video
  • Bots
  • Conversational AI

Optimize CX with Digital Engagements

Aside from there being a wide range of digital communication channels, the use of digital customer engagements is more pervasive than with traditional channels. Rather than being confined to desk-mode options, many of these are used extensively or solely on mobile devices, and that creates new considerations for agents to manage.

Typing out messages on a smartphone can take longer than at a desk, audio quality can be poor, smaller screens make it harder to share information, etc. All of these can impact communication efficacy with agents, but this doesn’t deter mobile-first customers who want service in the moment, and for them, digital channels are the most convenient.

Not only does a lot of digital channel engagement occur in mobile settings, but AI is playing a larger role here, with the goal of improving customer experience. This opens up a greater range of use cases for customer service automation, that aren’t possible with conventional channels like telephony and email. Self-service should be central to your thinking for the use of digital channels. Not only does artificial intelligence (AI) raise the bar from legacy IVR options, but these improved capabilities align with preferences from digital natives to use self-service as a first resort. This will lead to better CX outcomes, and will help operational efficiencies.

Both AI and mobility create a broad range of attractive use cases for digital communication channels, and this simply makes the customer engagement opportunity larger than what traditional communication channels can support. That said, having more ways to engage is no guarantee of better CX outcomes; rather, your agents now have more options to interact with customers.

As a final takeaway, IT leaders should also keep in mind that the use of digital channels isn’t confined just to the contact and call center. The social nature of many of these channels makes them ideal vehicles for sales and marketing operations to interact with customers. While these interactions aren’t about providing customer service, they are very much part of CX, and if your organization has a strategic focus on CX, then it should be clear that digital channels have an important role to play.