Research on how best to go ‘digital by default’ could be useful for councils

Organisations should offer “true channel choice” – opening up all communication routes

Research by Customer management specialists Ember Services has shown that while it is good for organisations to use online channels to communicate with customers, customers must have the option to choose the route they want to take rather than having it being imposed on them, otherwise the organisation could lose out.

While it has been established that interacting with customers via the internet rather than phone calls or face-to face is cheaper, new research by Ember, who examined the multi-channel strategies of over thirty UK businesses, shows that if people are forced into going online to complete a task, they may end up alienating users.

Mike Harvard, director of Ember, recently gave a talk where he spoke about the importance of offering “true channel choice” – making all communication routes open and easy to access – while encouraging the online option, which he believes will reap considerable economic benefits as well as help the organisation to build a reputation for “positive customer engagement”.

Furthermore, “multi-channel response gives you the opportunity to eliminate failure, reduce demand and create a more efficient management of the contact.”

National Rail Enquiries was given as a successful example of digital migration: “Five years ago they had one of the busiest phone lines in the UK with over 75m calls a year. Five years later that has been reduced to just 2 million calls a year now, but overall customer engagement has increased five-fold,” Harvard said.

Included in his tips to go ‘digital by default’ was the importance of keeping the online communication channel simple and easy to use, as well as innovating (using videos, web chat etc).

Some statistics:

Only 18% of the organisations who want to use social media to assist in customer services actually do so

80% of first contact happens online and this percentage is rising.

37% of customers who don’t instantly have their queries resovled online decide to call the organisation.

The young generation use phone services 30% less than the older generation.

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