It used to be simple: when we wanted to contact a company, we sent them an email or phoned them. These days, it is rather more complicated. Do you call them by phone, send them an email, a chat message or app message? Do you contact them through social media? Or do you prefer to make a video call? There is a huge range of options.
It is extremely important for organisations to offer an optimum customer experience through these various channels. For example, customers who contact you by phone will have a greater need for extensive personal contact than those who contact you using an app. But why does someone actually choose a specific channel? Below is a list of the various aspects a customer will weigh up:
The type of information
Firstly, the type of information is an important factor in determining the communication method. If a customer quickly wants to request simple information, it is useful to send a chat message. For example, Albert Heijn recently carried out a test with WhatsApp: this enabled customers to get information about stock levels, or reserve a loaf of bread. However, when it involves providing more complicated information, it is more practical to switch to a more personal communication method, such as a phone call or video call.
The phase in the purchasing process
Secondly, the phase in the purchasing process also has an influence. Imagine a customer is looking for a car. He spots a nice-looking one on a website. He then asks, through the chat function, whether the car is still available. After this, he emails the dealer to schedule a test drive. Later still, he phones to discuss specifications of the model.
The phases in the purchasing process are often subdivided on the basis of the AIDA model: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. During the first two orientation phases, customers often use more low-threshold channels, such as chat or social media. In the second two phases, customers need a more detailed dialogue. The telephone and email are more suitable for this.
Thirdly, the use of a specific communication channel can also be a personal choice. Younger generations usually opt for digital communication, while the older generation is more likely to phone. Young people are more likely than older people to make contact through Twitter, for example.
Finally, another aspect that can play a part is whether the customer wants to get the information immediately, or has the time to wait for it. People expect a reply to a chat message more quickly than they do to an email. If information is needed immediately, customers are more likely to make a phone call.
Multiple channels in a single conversation
As I indicated, it is also often the case that a customer will use a combination of different communication options. Customers can and want to use multiple communication channels within a single conversation. If a customer has had contact by email, he or she does not want to go through the whole story again on the phone, at a later stage.
In other words, the challenge for businesses is to get all these forms of communication to relate to one another in a single conversation. This is an important aspect of the digital transformation (DX) of an organisation. When all information can be found in one place, and the wishes of the customer are being met in the right way, omnichannel contact offers a great many opportunities!