Moxie Software’s EMEA General Manager, Andrew Mennie says:

The non-commerce sector, from Not For Profit to Local and Central Government, has more in common with commerce than you might expect, when we look at the deployment of multichannel customer experiences. Whether digital by directive or by choice, improving citizen response via a joined and potentially escalating series of channels from web self-help, to semi-assisted to one-to-one personal service follows the same logic as the commercial experience. Any organisation can strive to improve customer satisfaction with good information, readily available via the most relevant channels, without over-stretching resources.

The lessons are the same; common sense prevails. Build a single knowledge base for consistent and relevant answers via any channel; well built and maintained, your customers can access information directly via web self-service and help themselves to answer the majority of common (and not so common) inquiries. Build additional channels on the same knowledge base and you carry forward both certainty and – with supporting internal process – the ability to improve the information held over time.

There are of course subtleties of public service that have to be taken into account, but again there are parallels with applications in the commercial domain. Offering well researched, up to date information to everyone as standard on the website is a must in any sphere. Recognising when to offer a more costly assisted channel can be based on user profiling, pulling data from a login, or on the fly, driven by time spent on a certain page or the type of question being asked. A ‘premium’ customer doesn’t have to be a big spender, they may qualify for additional help by known disability for example. A kiosk in a library or council office is really no different from one in a store; if the information base is correct, it will deflect some one-to-one inquiries and save the reception desk time.

It can also pay to research your customer base and judge which channel best suits a demographic. Relate, the relationship counselling service, recognises this and offers chat to different demographics depending on the client’s preference. For example, online channels offer some clients the anonymity and privacy they need in order to discuss sensitive personal issues that they might not be prepared to discuss with someone face to face or by telephone. Many of Relate’s clients, particularly men, use the online channels as a way of trying out counselling to see whether it is for them. The confidence gained from using an online channel enables them to go on to use telephone or face to face services.

As a result of this, chat has become a very popular channel for counselling. Relate cited a 20% increase in chat volumes in 2012 and has delivered more than 44,000 chats in less than three years. Moxie’s Chat Spaces has helped the charity exceed targets on the number of people it initially aimed to reach out to and help resolve their relationship issues.

It is also important to remember that, even as a charity, differentiation is important. This is apparent in the fact that Relate offers the most cover for specific audiences (parents, individuals, couples, family members) and over a longer period – length of chats and opening hours, than any other competitor. In 2012, Relate’s website generated almost 5 million page views. Through its chat technology, Relate can deliver support on its website as well as in partner websites, including those that provide support for families of loved ones serving in the armed forces.

A competitive edge is also a necessity. Charities often have to compete with private organisations such as insurance companies for national contracts to provide benefits such employee welfare and stress management. With the live chat solution, Relate has been able to better compete in the market and win these bids.

So, we could conclude that we’re all consumers in the public and commercial sectors; we don’t expect any less or act any differently when seeking answers and neither should the experience on offer.

Andrew MennieAndrew Mennie, GM EMEA

Andrew is an accomplished sales focused managing director with extensive knowledge of building and leading International operations. Prior to joining Moxie as General Manager, EMEA, Andrew served for 10 years as Senior Vice President International at eGain where he grew a successful team with offices in 7 countries. Andrew has worked in the field of web customer services and knowledge management for over 15 years and has contributed to many thought leadership pieces within the EMEA contact centre market.

Outside work Andrew enjoys time with his family, entertaining two energetic sons under 7, and spending any free hours hitting running trails in the hills near his home.

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