digital channelsToday’s digital channels, including social media and mobile technologies, have radically changed how consumers communicate, interact with, share and spread information. But, while the public adores new technology, it can give customer experience executives heartburn.

Today, customers can voice their opinions on Facebook, Twitter and other social channels, anytime and anywhere, using their mobile phones. These outlets give customers more power and leverage than they’ve ever had before — especially when problems arise. One moment of anger or frustration can turn into a hasty, 140-character rant that could potentially reach millions of people. Bad reviews can turn customers away and the impact on your brand can be long-lasting.

While most companies now realize the potential impact of social and mobile — both negative and positive — very few tend to think about them in the context of customer service and the overall customer experience. Most companies still tend to view social channels as marketing or communications platforms — responding selectively to vocal customers, for instance, or offering temporary fixes like coupons to solve more complex problems with service.

Similarly, many companies today miss the boat in plotting smart mobile strategies. For many, their mobile presence (often in the form of an app) serves as an ineffective branding opportunity, instead of a potentially powerful customer engagement opportunity. And they do this increasingly at their own peril: Mobile users are ever more present and active — and increasingly immune to corporate branding and messaging. Simply redirecting app users who need customer support to a 1-800 number overlooks an opportunity to better serve a customer and engage with them when they need it most.

Don’t Waste a Perfect Opportunity

Social and mobile can provide the ultimate opportunity to reach customers at the precise moment they are in need.  That said, both channels have their own unique strengths and capabilities. For example, social provides a one-to-many approach, while mobile delivers personalized attention through self or assisted service.  Organizations need to strategically consider how to leverage each channel’s unique strengths to meet their business objectives.

Think about it: When was the last time you saw a section, button or tab on a mobile app that was dedicated to customer service? That aspect is largely ignored, even though mobile interactions are instant, highly personal, and build brand loyalty.

Best Practices

Delivering great customer experience requires an incredibly personal and consistent approach, which requires agents to be armed with context and customer info to get the job done. Each channel should be tightly integrated to reflect this. No interaction with a customer should be done blindly. If a customer Tweets something at a company’s handle, the company should have a solution that can know who the customer is, and if they have had any previous interactions over the phone, by email, by chat or mobile. With history and context across all channels and interactions, agents are empowered to quickly and easily help customers complete transactions and resolve problems.

If you’d like to learn more on how companies can better manage today’s digital channels, including social and mobile, check out our white paper titled, Transforming Customer Experience in the New Digital World.

Thanks for reading, and you can follow me on Twitter: @pete_wermter.