Study: Multi-channel usage growing, consumers don’t want to experience “touchpoint amnesia”


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NICE just released results of a survey of nearly 1200 adults in US, UK and Australia, focusing on interactions with financial, telecommunications, travel and hospitality, healthcare and insurance services.

The big trend — no surprise — is that the Web is the most frequently used interaction channel: 28% of respondents say they interact with their service providers web site at least once per week. But it varies considerable by industry, with financial services customers using the web much more heavily (60% use weekly) and successfully (74%).

However, that boring old phone is still viewed as a more successful channel for accomplishing tasks in telecom, insurance and healthcare.

I must say this matches my experience — aside from my bank and, most web self-service processes are still too complicated. I’d prefer to self-serve, but if it isn’t easy I’ll pick up the phone. NICE found that half of respondents contact a live rep (phone or office) because they believe they are more likely to get their problem resolved in one shot.

Social networks are a fast-growing option. Compared to 2 years ago, 40% of respondents reported increased usage of social networks. Only smartphone apps (43%) showed a bigger change.

I think social networks are an interesting option because in one swell foop consumers can start a service process and implicitly complain publicly about their problem. That could help put consumers into a higher-priority queue. That’s what I found when I was having problems with my DSL line. I posted a plea for help on Twitter to start the process. Eventually the problem was fixed, and my “social” usage helped give my problem a higher priority than it would have otherwise received.

The NICE survey also confirmed a growing trend which I’ve seen in my own consumer studies and other research: Millennials are leading the way in multi-channel usage. GenYs are using more than 6 channels on average and are driving adoption of the newer channels like SMS, smartphone apps and social networks.

What this all boils down is the critical importance of orchestrating the multi-channel experience. Even Baby Boomers like yours truly uses several channels. Top brands must deliver a consistently great experience across channels and minimize the problem of “touchpoint amnesia” — forgetting info the customer has already provided. In my consumer study a couple of years ago, I found this problem seriously impacted revenue and customer loyalty. It’s not just an irritant, it’s a serious business issue.

That’s why I think this the most interesting chart in an excellent white paper. (Click the image to see it in full size.)

With the proliferation of channels it can be a daunting task to figure out which interaction journeys to improve. NICE shows that a big opportunity is the transition from web to live support. Make sure that if (when) a web self-service customer doesn’t get a problem resolved that the transition to a contact center rep on the phone or a chat session remembers what happened previously. If you can get this web to phone/chat process working smoothly with high customer satisfaction, then start working on less common interaction scenarios.

Thanks to NICE for providing a review copy of the white paper. You can download the full copy here, registration required.


  1. Great thoughts, Bob. Goes to show how important it is for businesses to be able to listen on all fronts – phone, email, social, etc. Customer service reps need organization to be able to handle all of these different mediums at once, and switch seamlessly between them. I think that organization starts with a good CRM setup.

    Lots of businesses are trying to go social, but a good social presence starts with a solid customer service process. Customers will share their impression of your business whether you offer support through social sites or not – that's why it's important to begin by offering strong phone and email support.

    That's not to say support via social sites isn't important – it certainly is. Social media is one part of a much larger picture. The term "Social CRM” is redundant – customer relationships are, by definition, social.

    Businesses need to find organizational tools integrate social mediums, without neglecting traditional phone and email service. As you mentioned, these are still the bread-and-butter types of service for many different industries.

    John-Paul Narowski, Founder – karmaCRM


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