Which Channels do Customers Trust the Most

If you’re in Customer Service, you’ve heard of “omnichannel”. In fact, you’re probably sick of the term. This concept is easy to understand and the technology isn’t the real challenge.

The challenge is the human interface, both the consumer wanting (or not wanting) omnichannel integration, and the agent actually incorporating all channels in the right way. Omnichannel is a nice buzzword, and many corporations will invest in it, but it will be a long time before everyone is doing it well.

With the addition of more channels and pseudo omnichannel service, companies should be asking questions like: Which channels do customers prefer to use most often? Do certain channels illicit more honesty? Which channels do customers trust the most? Which channels do customers perceive as low-effort? In asking these questions, a company is sure to realize that today’s “tech-savvy” consumers produce very different results than previous generations.

Customers Text Honestly

Voice of the Customer (VOC) is an integral part of many organizations’ customer service strategies, but it is most useful when the responses are truthful. Studies show that people are more likely to answer questions truthfully when responding via text than over the phone. They are also more likely to give accurate answers to numerical questions when doing so via text. This finding holds even when people are in busy situations and multitasking, and when they know they are texting a live agent and not just a computer. This could be because people feel less likely to be judged for their answers when communicating over text, or perhaps they think telling a fib over the phone is different than typing out a lie that could be brought up again later. So, the next time you try asking feedback questions, do it via text message instead. You’ll likely get a more accurate and honest answer, which can help you be more transparent with other customers.

Customers Trust Other Customers

Texting platforms are practical because a huge majority of the population use text messaging every day, but websites and social media obviously are also very popular. Marketing strategy has become closely tied to customer service because first impressions influence the entire customer experience. Consumers are relying more and more on user-generated content (UGC), product reviews, and recommendations from friends, and less on information from the company. Thus, with a continued emphasis on what fellow customers are doing and saying, social media has become a much larger factor. A customer is 71% more likely to purchase a product when referred by social media. And, because UGC is influential in the purchasing process, it is important that the feedback from consumers is honest and accurate. Use this information to your advantage and address any inconsistencies in service.

Customers Ultimately Trust Voice

While websites and social media sites are increasingly popular and trusted, in the end, customers choose whatever channel they think will require the least amount of effort and solve their issue. More than half of customers begin their transactions online, perhaps with the idea that it will require the least amount of effort, but if the issue isn’t resolved quickly, or they find themselves unable to complete the task at hand in a timely manner, they quickly reach for the phone. Ultimately, almost 70% of issue resolutions occur through voice. This reaffirms the notion that while a company must continue to add channels through which it communicates with customers, a phone call is still the most important resource for a customer. Thus, even though consumers are now using more channels than before, many of which are social, it doesn’t mean that voice is dead. In truth, other channels probably make voice more important because that’s where many customers end up.

The reach of current channels and the number of channels will continue to expand, with some overtaking or perhaps incorporating others over time. This will happen as the demographic changes and the customer experience evolves. For now, be sure to update your Twitter and revisit your voice self-service technology, because giving your customers more choices is never a bad thing.