Context & Communication

If content is ‘king’, then context is certainly ‘queen’. This isn’t just true in marketing – it applies to all forms of communication. Yes, the topic – the ‘what’ – being discussed is critical; but the way in which it’s being discussed needs to be tailored to the given situation, format, or channel.

Nowhere is this more relevant than in a contact centre environment. When there are so many channels being used at different times by numerous operators and customers, the pressure’s on to deliver a consistent on-brand experience every time.

Here are a few things to consider.

Understand What Your Business Does

This may sound simple, but it’s an easy thing to lose sight of. There’s a strong correlation between what a business provides and the nature of each customer interaction.

For example, customers contacting a utilities provider or government department will usually want a point clarified. Sure, a lot of the information relating to their account might be online, but given the context here, and the need for a real-time explanation, a call or an email feel like the most appropriate modes of contact for these kinds of organisations.

However, say someone purchases a t-shirt from a clothing website. If the entire sales process is conducted online, then it makes sense for the support function to follow suit.

The transactional nature of exchanges like these lend themselves better to on-site web chats – if there’s a query about the product itself. But if, say, there was a problem with the payment, then the customer would probably want to contact the business directly ASAP – making telephone the obvious channel here.

Customer-Driven Channel Choices

So, given the different types of transactions and interactions, there’s a need for companies to offer customers a way of contacting them via several different channels. But the channels used need to be carefully considered – and optimised to make customers’ lives easier.

You wouldn’t necessarily think that insurance companies would choose to communicate with customers via WhatsApp. But given the real-time messaging it offers – in addition to the ability to upload and send photographs – it suddenly seems like a great way of negotiating a car accident claim, for example.

Another point to keep in mind is that the tone of each interaction needs to be appropriate to the channel being used. Customers may use text speak and emojis in instant messaging, but almost certainly won’t in emails. Agents should always take their lead in each instance.

The Cost Of Constant Contact

Cost is also a crucial factor. It’s a lot more expensive to use the phone than any online channel – especially when you factor in an employee’s time spent dealing with routine stuff. That’s why more and more companies are using automated chatbots as a first point of contact on instant messaging and web chat services.

By eliminating the need for agents to answer routine queries, and by pre-programming these interfaces with answers to commonly asked questions everyone’s happy. Customers get the information they need on-demand, and agents can spend more time on other more challenging work.

Start With Strategy

While channel choice is largely customer-led, knowing how they prefer to communicate across each one is vital to providing the best possible outcome in any interaction. This means choosing communications channels that align with the business’ objectives too – ensuring they have a purpose rather than selecting them ‘just in case’.

All things considered, whatever sector a business operates in – from waste management to wine-by-mail – customer service is what’s most important. The end-to-end experience provided needs to be taken into account at all stages of the customer journey.

And with more and more tools available to provide round-the-clock interaction, who- or whatever’s acting as the first point of contact needs a firm understanding of the context underpinning each interaction.