Today’s customer expects to have a broad selection of channels where they can  communicate with companies. However, when an issue cannot be resolved using one of these channels, such as live chat or voice calls, the customer finds they need to, oftentimes, switch to a different one. This can lead to customer frustration, damaged customer loyalty, and in some cases, complete abandonment.

Channel Switching: What is it and Why does it Happen?

Channel switching occurs when a customer is not able to complete their intended interaction with an agent through a particular channel and are forced to use a different means of communication (like picking up the phone and calling the company directly or sending an email). The customer may also switch to a different company’s site if they become

disengaged due to channel frustration.

Risks and Dangers of Channel Switching

Security Risks for the Customer

Our culture’s 24-hour news cycle is full of stories of security breaches on companies’ Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. Lately we have seen that even large companies with more than enough resources to secure their databases are still at risk.

Security risks to customer information are exacerbated when customers are switching channels because they could be redirected to unsecure sites. According to Forbes, In 2015 the top 10 healthcare data breaches accounted for the compromising of 111 million customer records. Out of those 10 breaches, 9 of them were due to hacking or IT incidents.

When a customer becomes frustrated or their issues are not resolved when using a particular channel, they may ‘go rogue’ and leave a company’s site in search of other options or resources via search engines or other methods. This opens the customer to the threat of landing in dangerous waters. Unfortunately, many customers are not able to tell the difference between a secure site and a well-designed malicious site.

A Broken Customer Journey

Customers are looking for (and expect) seamless experiences that are high-touch but low-effort. When a customer has to switch channels, they typically start their journey all over again by restating their issue or re-asking questions. This creates a broken customer journey that can be detrimental to customer loyalty.

In 2013, Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi wrote a book called The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty.

The authors surveyed 97,000 customers across several industries who recently had an online customer experience. They had access to customer interactions from over 400 companies. The data from their studies showed that “the specific things customer service does to drive disloyalty among customers are largely associated with the amount of work – or effort – customers must put forth to get their issues resolved.”

The book also talks about creating a “low-effort” experience in regards to the customer. The authors found that the number one way to do so is to “minimize channel switching by boosting the stickiness of self-service channels, thereby keeping customers from having to call in the first place” (“Stickiness”, in this case, refers to how apt a customer is likely to continue communicating with a channel). In addition, they found that what customers are looking for are not solutions with a lot of bells and whistles but rather a “simple, intuitive, and guided self-service experience”.

A broken customer journey leads to disloyalty and a negative customer experience. This can have a toxic effect, as a customer with a bad experience is more likely to create more negative word of mouth (65%) compared to the amount of positive word of mouth a customer with a good experience will create (25%).

Solutions

OmniCore, Glia’s full-featured engagement platform, provides a seamless, secure, and scalable experience for both companies and their customers.

In terms of security, Omnicore’s patented technology has passed rigorous security reviews at a number of leading global banks and financial institutions. Additionally, Glia is the only engagement solution to be awarded SOC 2 compliance and certification. SOC 2 is an auditing procedure that ensures that data is properly protected in the interests of client privacy.

Glia also uses a variety of industry-standard security technologies and procedures to protect information that is  processed and maintained. For example, access to information is limited to authorized employees who need to know that information in order to operate, develop or improve services.

As for channel “stickiness,” an entire suite of solutions is available to customers who experience the Omnicore platform. This ensures that the customer will be able to choose the channel that they are most comfortable with, whether chat, voice, or video calls, thus drastically reducing the chance of channel switching. The most vital piece of the platform is Glia’s patented CoBrowsing solution.

With Glia CoBrowsing, agents are able to not only share screens with customers, they are also able to use Live Observation, and Dual-Cursor Control to guide the customer’s journey through an effortless path. With the engagement level provided by CoBrowsing, especially when it is used in tandem with chat and video, site abandonment and channel switching are mitigated and loyalty levels are raised leading to an improved customer experience.

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