If you create an integrated cross channel business model, your can have your service cake and eat it, too. We have all been in those budget meetings where the CFO recommends cutting service to reduce expenses. Yesterday’s post addresses the high cost of reducing service. Today, let’s discuss alternatives that save money without sacrificing customer care.
I define service as providing what the customer needs when they need it within reason. Please don’t translate that definition into offering complete coverage across all channels at all times. The purpose of your business is to serve customers while generating a profit. If the costs of serving customers eliminate profitability, then you are not fulfilling your purpose.
Multichannel businesses have the ability to leverage resources across channels. It offers a competitive advantage over single channel entities. For example, email is an excellent tool for communicating with your customers. Even if your primary channel is stores or catalog, most of your customers have an email address. Capture it to provide transactional, informational, and promotional updates. Always allow the ability to opt out by email type. Without that option, you lose access to customers who want to receive transactional communication without promotions. It allows you to continue correspondence and maintain top-of-mind positioning.
Reduce the volume of incoming calls and emails by improving online access to information. Encourage your CSR’s to log the questions they are asked. Mine those logs for repetitive questions and answer them online. Position the answers where they are most likely to be seen. Post product answers on the item description page, not under the FAQ’s. Your goal is to answer the questions before the prospect asks them.
Include access information for your frequently asked questions on every outgoing email, catalog, and direct mail piece. Your after hours telephone message should have it, too. This allows customers and prospects access to the information 24/7 at nominal expense. There is a bonus, too. It improves the content to promotion ratio on your site and helps your natural search rankings. One caveat: Do not start directing everyone to a FAQ page that has minimal information. It frustrates your visitors and there is a short step from frustration to alienation.
Spend some time thinking about how you can leverage your channels. This posting provides a starting point. I’m sure that you can take it from here. Happy cross channeling.