Why is it so difficult to deliver consistent, effortless customer service interactions across communication channels and touchpoints. A fundamental reason has to do with how companies are internally organized. In many companies, sales, marketing, and customer service are discrete functional silos that don’t necessarily share the same technologies, business processes, data, or even the same definition of measures of success.

Let’s take a quick look at the organizations that make technology purchases for customer service. Obviously, the customer service operations group makes most of these purchases. Yet marketing and eBusiness organizations also purchase many technologies that are valuable to customer service such as social listening solutions, enterprise feedback management solutions, and social media technologies. Here are some numbers to back this up: in a survey of eBusiness and channel strategy executives, 91% said that they were responsible for the website and digital channels like email, chat, and web self service, and another 69% said they were responsible for the mobile operations, including the required technology purchases.

Fractured ownership is one problem. Another problem is that, in many cases, these technologies have been implemented in silos. Their use and insights are not broadly shared across the enterprise, and they are not integrated with one another or with customer databases or case management systems. Survey statistics back this up: Only 19% of companies say that they do multichannel integration well. What does this mean? It means that customers will have different customer service experiences across different channels such as web self-service, email, chat, or voice interaction. It means that customer-facing personnel supporting these channels may not have the same visibility into who the customer is and past purchase and interaction details of that customer.

What should you do about this? If you are looking to add another channel to your contact center, like chat, you should conduct a thorough audit of all similar technologies that the enterprise owns before making your purchase. In many cases, there are viable technologies that the organization uses elsewhere. Specifically, you should:

  • Evaluate similar technologies that your enterprise may already be using. Conduct due diligence of the capabilities of similar technologies and determine whether they can scale and operate at a level of performance and reliability to support customer service operations.
  • Decide whether you can leverage technologies across the enterprise. If the technology is sound, and meets the needs of the customer service organization, see whether you need a separate deployment instance of the technology or whether you can share the same deployment instance across organizations. In many cases, it is financially advantageous to expand the existing footprint of current technologies. It also minimizes IT support costs.
  • Align business processes across organizations. Ensure that the experience that the customer receives when interacting with these technologies is consistent across functional organizations. For example, if the same knowledge base is shared across contact center agents and for web self-service, make sure to use consistent authoring policies across organizations so that content is kept aligned for all audiences. Or, for example, if you use Twitter for customer service as well as brand management, ensure that the service-level agreements (SLAs) and processes followed over this channel do not conflict with the SLAs and processes followed over other communication channels.
  • Integrate technologies to extend the value of current customer service operations. Don’t deploy new customer service technologies in silos; ensuring that they are well-integrated with other customer service technologies will empower agents to provide efficient and effective customer service.