Channel Shift Strategy – 11 Steps to Successful Implementation

Developing a channel shift strategy can be a daunting prospect. This expert guide will walk you through every stage of the process and ensure your digital transformation is a resounding success. Here are our 11 steps for digitally transforming your organisation.

  1. Understand your reasons for Channel Shift
  2. Assess your current situation by answering 8 key questions
  3. Get management on board with some powerful statistics
  4. Improve performance by targeting key areas
  5. Making the most of chat-based communication
  6. Leverage social media
  7. Think about accessibility
  8. Manage expectations with a realistic schedule
  9. Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s (slowly)
  10. Completely understand your ROI with the right analytics
  11. Partner with external strategy experts

Let’s look at each of these in more detail

  1. Understand your reasons for channel shift

One of the most common mistakes organisations make when trying to affect channel shift is not fully understanding what they’re trying to achieve. Change for the sake of change is not a positive thing. Consequently, you need to ensure you understand the reasons why you’re implementing a channel shift policy and what you’re hoping to achieve.

To make sure your channel shift strategy works not just for you, but for your users as well, you need to understand exactly why you’re implementing it in the first place. As well as helping you plan and implement your strategy smoothly, this will also enable you to benchmark and measure success later on.

  1. Make a list of user pain points. Use survey data if available, and be sure to leverage the knowledge of your frontline phone staff. This will help you prioritise where to start with channel shift for the quickest results.
  2. Make a list of phone staff pain points. The view from the ground is often very different and the experience of frontline workers is sometimes overlooked. Focus group software like focusgroupit enables you to ask questions and receive answers remotely, where face-to-face meetings are impractical.
  3. Organise a meeting with a sample of your users, staff and management. Ask the question: ‘How can digital transformation help us improve our service?’
  4. Make the most of others’ experience and understand where mistakes can be made with channel shift
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  1. Maximise success by answering 8 questions

To know where you’re going, it’s first necessary to understand where you’re coming from. This means that the second step in developing a comprehensive channel shift strategy is assessing your current situation.

Answer these 8 pre-implementation analysis questions and get channel shift right, first time:

omnichannel strategy questions
  1. How are people currently accessing your services?
  2. When are your peak volume periods / when are the most calls are coming in?
  3. How long does it take staff to route calls? You may need to ask staff to monitor this for a week or so to get an idea.
  4. How many people ‘drop out’: simply get tired of waiting to be connected to the right end-point? Again, if this is not already being monitored then speak to your team about how to do so.
  5. Where are your pinch-points? Identify areas where information log-jams are building up, and where callers are being corralled while they wait for a response.
  6. How has call volume grown in, say, the last three years? You need to be sure that any system you implement can cope with increases in demand later on, as well as tackling existing requirements
  7. What’s the average cost of an interaction using your current methods, compared to the projected costs of an automated or digital system? Once you know how long the average staff member spends dealing with calls, re-routing them and the effects of drop out, you’ll have a benchmark to calculate from.
  8. How much is initial development going to cost? You will need so show value for money to both users and management before full implementation takes place

  1. Get management on board with some powerful statistics

If your digital transformation process doesn’t get the backing of management and the board, it’s doomed to failure. This is exactly what happened to Blockbuster CEO, John Antioco, who was pushed out of the organisation by board members concerned that his investment in digital technology was costing the organisation too much.

The most effective way of getting those in a senior position on your side is through the use of impressive statistics. The following stats may be of some assistance.

  1. Increase savings by targeting specific opportunities

If your digital transformation and channel shift policies are to have the intended effect, you need to ensure that they’re targeted. You want the biggest savings from the most modest investment. You can identify these opportunities by looking at the following factors:

  • Volume: Where do you receive the most customer enquiries? The higher the number of interactions, the greater the potential for savings.
  • Time: Which enquiries demand most of your employees’ time? If interactions take longer, they’re more likely to be complex enquiries that are difficult to automate. These are the types of interactions you want to free up your customer service reps to handle. Shorter interactions are more likely to indicate enquiries that can be automated.
  • Routing: Are customers reaching the right customer service representative first-time? If they’re not, improvements can be made to you digital customer service infrastructure to ensure that they do.
  • Interaction type: Different types of enquiry can be handled in different ways. For instance, simple information requests (e.g. info on an organisations’ returns policy) can be easily automated. Similarly, many transactions can be automated, too. More complex interactions may require agent intervention but even these processes can be improved by accurate routing. Distinguishing between different types of interaction can help reveal opportunities for digital transformation.
Channel Shift Strategy - 11 Steps to Successful Implementation
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  1. Make the most of chat-based communication

Chatbots are a relatively new technology that is helping to automate customer service interactions for a large number of organisations. Taking advantage of customers’ preference for chat-based communication, they allow companies to cut costs, free up human agents for more complex tasks, and route customers to the most relevant channel for their enquiry.

  1. Leverage social media to get your message across

Customers are increasingly opting to interact with companies through their social media channels. This has fundamentally altered the nature of communication between customers and organisations.

Interactions can take place across any number of platforms and organisations’ responses are expected to be immediate. This puts pressure on organisations to implement an effective digital transformation process and have developed the necessary technology and expertise to utilise such channels. Social media is also an effective platform for automation technologies, with applications like Facebook Messenger becoming one of the key platforms for organisation’ chatbot services.

  • Review your key performance metrics for social media. It’s not all about follows – how well are people engaging with (commenting, liking and sharing) your content?
  • Use a tool like Likealyzer to see how your Facebook performance measures up to the competition
Channel Shift Strategy - 11 Steps to Successful Implementation

  1. Put accessibility at the centre of your channel shift strategy

Though interacting with organisations via digital channels is an increasingly popular option, organisations can’t simply do away with older technologies. Accessibility should be a major concern. Not all of your customers will have gone digital – how are you going to accommodate those who continue to use traditional means of communication?

  • Are some of your services accessed mostly by the elderly? Consider whether smartphone or internet options are appropriate for this group, or whether pushing them towards it might result in drop-off (and a poor user experience)
  • Have a look at the Good Things Foundation ‘Digital Nation’ infographic for essential data on access and use of digital technology amongst different groups
  • Consider partnering with your local Online Centre, a network of over 5000 grassroots organisations committed to reducing digital and social exclusion
  • Is your channel shift strategy taking people with hearing loss into account?
  • If you are directing users to a website, is it user-friendly for people with sight loss? Check – you may be surprised!
  • How accessible are your channels for people who do not speak English as a first language? Again, are there services that are most frequently accessed by this group that may not be a priority for channel shift?

  1. Manage expectations (and stress levels!) by setting a realistic schedule

Introducing new channel shift and digital transformation policies can be a lengthy process. In order to ensure that it doesn’t drag on for too long, it’s essential that you develop a comprehensive timetable for the project. This will involve:

  • Construction of web portals. Speak to your developers about how long they think this will take, and then add a few weeks!
  • Creation of information explaining how to use the portals. This could include everything from local advertising through to leaflets, banners on existing digital portals, and posters.
  • Ensure existing hard-copy information is updated in line with the digital media. There will always be some users who either won’t or can’t use a digital access point – they should have access to the same information as everyone else.
  • Will channel shift result in fundamental changes for how users interact with you? For example, fully automated payment IVRs, digital-only submission of applications etc. If so, you must make it clear to users in plenty of time as to exactly when the changeover is going to happen, and how it affects them
  • Rather than trying to overhaul all your services in one go, take a service-by-service approach to enable you to test reactions and iron out any issues in a relatively manageable way
  • Don’t assume that just because you offer users a digital interaction option, they will use it! Aim to show them that using digital is a) quicker and b) easier than speaking to a member of staff, however, and your strategy will be a success.
  • Contingency planning is essential for both realistic time frames and keeping within budget, so allow for extra time and resources if things go wrong.
chatbot schedule

  1. Dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s (slowly)

Though you may have the perfect digital transformation and channel shift policies, it won’t matter one bit if they’re not implemented in the right way. Poor implementation can cause irreparable damage to a company’s reputation and doom a project to failure.

  • A good channel shift strategy should be similar to a flow chart, with every eventuality covered and every channel considered. Before you launch your integrated system, make absolutely sure that it really is ‘integrated’: from websites, automated IVR systems, emails, phone, SMS messaging, to text messages. And don’t forget the human face-to-face element, either
  • Think about bringing things onstream one bit at a time, giving users a chance to get used to interacting with new entry points into the channels. This will also enable you and your team to monitor how well the strategy is performing and identify any problems.
  • Create a flowchart for every part of your offering so you don’t miss out on any query points.
  • Once one or two sections are running successfully (say, an IVR channel for generic information, and an automated payment line for Council Tax bills), you can then scale the system up to include other aspects.
  • Isolate services to measure their performance. Bringing everything online at once is bound to cause problems that are difficult to resolve. However, it’s also problematic for another reason – it makes it difficult to measure the impact of individual changes.
  • Consider the entire digital ecosystem. In the modern organisation, everything is connected. This means that you need to ensure that everything links up as it should and that customers, data, and employees can all move through the system without obstruction.
  • Download our free Channel Shift Implementation guide to make sure you’ve got everything covered

  1. Completely understand your ROI with the right analytics

A comprehensive analytics platform is key to measuring success. All organisations should produce regular reports to ensure that everything is operating as it should. These are likely to include:

  • Monthly operational reports. These should include in-depth data on volumes, categories, call lengths, call behaviour, dominant paths, SMS usage and transfer from and to destinations. This information is key to help determine service approach, development and performance.
  • Reports for management showing key performance areas in an easily digestible, at-a-glance format. You should include summaries of total data on a weekly/monthly/quarterly basis with graphs, trends and percentages.
  • Don’t forget to talk to your staff! Have a quarterly meeting with some of your frontline call team – how do they think it’s going?
channel shift strategy

  1. Partner with external strategy experts

Though it may be tempting to tackle the channel shift process on your own, there’s a great deal to be said for making the most of channel shift specialists’ expertise and experience. At Inform, we’re well-equipped to help you identify what can be improved, introduce new automation technologies, and encourage customers to switch to these more cost-effective channels.

While some organisations do have the in-house expertise to realise their digital transformation and channel shift strategy, the vast majority do not. We’re on-hand to ensure that your organisation realises the ROI it expects on digital tech by providing you with the means to create a customer service experience that meets your users’ needs and expectations.

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Have a question or want further information on channel shift strategy? Our expert team have been providing customer contact solutions for over 25 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line.