Customer needs, wants and behaviors change almost with the blink of an eye in today’s always-on, always-connected world. This means that businesses must regularly reevaluate the channels they use to interact with customers, and ensure that they are aligned with buyer preferences. As we rapidly advance towards the middle of 2015, it’s vital that businesses get their channel-mi x right, an area we focused on within the 2015 Customer Engagement Channels Adoption study. This post highlights six observations on channel adoption trends you must not ignore to ensure success through the rest of this year:

Adoption of digital channels is on the rise.

Aberdeen research shows that the channels that have the greatest planned adoption rates are digital; mobile web, mobile applications, text messaging, live chat, online customer communities, live video conferencing, and self-service portals. This validates that customer care executives see a growing need to incorporate digital touch-points within their customer experience management (CEM) activities.

Voice (particularly phone) is not going away.

While businesses are increasingly focused on incorporating digital channels within their CEM programs, this doesn’t mean the end of traditional channels such as phone, email, IVR and even mail. Companies are not reporting plans to abandon voice interactions in support of digital ones. Rather, they are planning to increase their adoption of these channels ‒ although, at a much smaller scale compared to the planned adoption of digital channels.

Self-service will become (even) more commonplace.

In our February 2014 Optimizing the Self-Service Experience: Help Customers Help Themselves study, we noted that companies with self-service programs enjoyed an 85% greater year-over-year increase in customer retention rates, compared to those without self-service. While the data shows that 44% of businesses currently have a self-service portal, the planned adoption rates (31%) signal that companies clearly understand the business value of self-service and will be increasing their adoption and use of this important channel.

Social media becomes a rather established customer interaction channel.

Gone are the days when use of social media in the contact center was a subject that needed demystifying. As highlighted within our August 2014 Social Customer Care: Steps to Success in 2014 study, the adoption of social media by contact centers has grown four-fold between 2010 and 2014. This signals that organizations understand the business value of social media and are investing in making it a part of their customer service activities. The planned adoption rate (19%) of social media reveals that more businesses are planning to incorporate social media within their customer care channel-mix in 2015.

Mobile dominates the list of planned CEM touch-points for 2015.

Despite the widespread description of mobile as a customer interaction channel, mobile is not a channel… Mobile is an overarching word used to refer to the touch-points / modalities companies have to interact with clients via customers’ mobile devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets). Now that we’ve cleared any potential confusion on use of the term “mobile,” let’s also highlight the related planned adoption trends. Mobile modalities (mobile web and mobile applications) represent two of the top three touch-points companies are planning to increase their adoption in 2015. This comes as no surprise as firms, especially business-to-consumer (B2C), see an increasing amount of consumers using mobile devices as part of their product / service purchase activities as well as for post-sale support.

Live chat adoption will increase to further enrich customers’ web experiences.

Live chat is another important touch-point that helps firms deliver customer service through the web. Aberdeen research shows that 29% of businesses currently use live chat. This means that businesses not utilizing live chat are missing out on opportunities to help clients who would prefer to interact with a live or virtual agent through the web, thus increasing the effort for buyers by requiring them to use additional touch-points (e.g. phone) to interact with a live agent. As more companies understand the importance of reducing customer effort and its impact on the overall buyer experience, the planned adoption rate (37%) places live chat among the top channels companies are planning to adopt in 2015. Please read this report to learn more about why companies are planning to invest in live chat at an increasing rate in 2015.

Still have questions on how to prioritize the right channels for your business or need insights on how to successfully incorporate any or all of the above channels. If so, please read my 2015 Customer Engagement Channels Adoption study or contact me via the comments box below.