Flipping on the big screen TV late the other night, I was reminded that we live in a world of too much information and often not the information we are looking for. On my DirectTV, I have every national and regional sports network (good stuff), real-time debates on the stock market, and the ability to download any show I may want to watch. But I mostly receive clutter – the channels and shows I want are often lost in the hundreds within the programming lineup. And, if it weren’t for the remote and DVR, I would not be able to watch the very few programs I really want to watch.

Unlike when I was a kid with a few channels, today we live in a world of too many channels, and they are usually broadcasting the wrong show. Luckily, like most men, we are masters of using the remote control to find what we want, when we need it. To paraphrase DirecTV’s current ad slogan, “Don’t just watch TV, Direct TV!” Thank goodness for the remote control.

In the world of customer service, we also have a choice of many channels. But where is my remote control for customer service?

More channels creates more challenges
Today, customer service has evolved beyond the phone and the IVR to new channels such as chat, email, social and mobile. And, this channel proliferation has propagated the “more is better” myth. How many of us have experienced situations where we:

  • Were making an online purchase and wanted to web chat with an agent – but couldn’t?
  • Were browsing online and interrupted with a web chat session from an agent when we wanted to be left alone?
  • Wanted to talk to a person, but could only email a black hole with no response?
  • We got stuck in an IVR maze, with no way to reach an agent?

A choice of customer interaction channels is a good thing. That said, what is needed today is not just more channels but, more importantly, the right channels at the right time. For example, my favorite ski spot knows I like to receive text messages and they wisely text me with enticing messages of how much powder fell the night before, photos, and “gold customer” specials. If an established, small-scale ski operator can optimize their “channel” strategy, why can’t mid- and large-sized companies? Consumers should be able to interact with the business how, when and where they want.

Tuning in to the right channels
So how do we get to the right channel? Siloed, point-based approaches won’t cut it and are killing the customer experience. Companies must first understand with analytics, historical data and context – how people want to talk and then apply that knowledge to making the right channels available. And, organizational silos and walls need to be removed in favor of a true cross-channel strategy to support customers that frequently jump channels for the same service request yet demand a single conversation.

Just as TV technology has evolved, so has customer service technology. The next evolution of customer service needs to give the remote control back to customers and deliver “HD Customer Service” – right channel, right time, right away. Companies should leverage new technologies such as speech and multichannel analytics, personalized advanced routing, and open connectors across disparate infrastructure systems, from customer experience companies like Genesys and Utopy to transform “black and white” customer service into the new “HD Customer Service”. With these new approaches the right channel in “HD Customer Service” can be seen and experienced today.

Consumers will vote with their dollars and choose the companies that let them receive service the way they want with the right channel at the right time. The companies that win, will be the ones that put the remote control in their customers’ hands by establishing the systems and infrastructure to optimize the multichannel experience. These companies will be awarded the highest “Nielsen Ratings” – or in the customer service world, “Net Promoter Score” or ACSI ratings. Other business will be tuned out, and lost in the endless channel lineup with no one watching.

So as we all get excited over new channels and new ways to offer stellar service, now is a good time to step back and put ourselves in our customer’s seat and see what they are seeing. A good question to ask ourselves? Is our company capable of providing each customer the right conversation on the right channel, across channels, giving the customer a remote control for HD customer service? Or have they already tuned us out and moved on to a new and better show?

For more information on cross channel strategy, there’s also a Genesys, Cross Channel Front Doors, white paper on how companies can leverage value-based segmentation to grow customer relationships over the web and phone.

Read more: