With over 18 years’ experience in delivering transformative digital solutions to the housing sector, VerseOne has a wealth of experience in helping its customers achieve and sustain meaningful channel shift to self-service online solutions and digital adoption.
Many successful channel shift strategies start before any digital self-service solution has been launched. Obtaining the correct buy-in from internal and external stakeholders, insights into your customers’ existing channel usage and expectations, and building awareness of the positive impacts the solution will have, ahead of time, can make all the difference. It is also important to keep in mind that a channel shift strategy isn’t something you design once — it’s something you must continuously monitor and refine.
We have worked with several existing customers to help facilitate this; below are several channel shift activities we have actively encouraged and been involved in.
Digital by Design
We live in a multi-channel world, with customers using the web, email, social media, face-to-face appointments, phone, and mobile devices during different phases of any process or interaction. Reducing choice by, for example, cutting out the ability to speak on the phone, will only frustrate and annoy your customers or residents – as is making them change channels. It can be tempting to, for example, artificially increase the waiting time for telephone enquiries: this however would be a risky and counter-productive strategy that disadvantages those who cannot engage digitally (or, of course, create delays that may put life and limb at further risk).
The key to any successful channel shift — one that maintains or, ideally, enhances high levels of customer experience — is to design your preferred channel to deliver an experience that is easier, faster and more reliable than other options.
Customer engagement and user experience are two crucial aspects that need to be addressed when wishing to achieve a successful channel shift. Leveraging your Customer Engagement Board allows for the opportunity to involve your key stakeholders from the outset. From concept to delivery, enabling your customers to engage in a meaningful way with the process helps to ensure that their needs, which may not necessarily be obvious, are always at the forefront and being catered for.
Beta versions of the solution can also be made available to this Board, helping to refine and validate the solution before launch. By leveraging the Engagement Board, not only are you gaining the most valuable insights from your prime audience, but you are also creating an army of channel-shift advocates who will mobilise to ensure that the benefits of the proposed solution are heard by your customer base. Your customers and residents, hearing all the benefits — not just from your organisation but from their peers — adds an unrivalled level of authenticity and validity.
A number of our customers have used messaging re-enforcement through existing customer support channels with great success. Using the telephony system as an opportunity for key messaging of a self-service portal for example, can be highly successful. While customers are waiting to speak to a Customer Services Agent, key information describing the benefits of the portal, such the services that can be actioned and the speed with which tasks can be accomplished, will help to promote and encourage take-up and usage.
The power of offline
It can be easy to forget the power of traditional promotions when dealing with channel shifting and digital adoption, inadvertently focusing efforts through existing digital channels. While this can be effective, it may mean you’re failing to reach a large and significant demographic. As well as promoting your new customer service channels via digital means, make sure you organise offline promotion activities too.
Having your customer agents promote self-serve technologies at the end of customer calls or arranging poster and leaflet campaigns outside the Alliances offices, and in the community, can be very effective in creating more awareness of the digital options available.
Videos and motion graphics which showcase the various benefits of the new solution or assist with the onboarding can also be incredibly powerful mediums. VerseOne, with its extensive experience in successfully blending creative and digital knowhow, has been involved in devising and executing many promotional strategies of this type.
Employees as Channel-shift Experts
Using your own employees to act as channel-shift agents within the organisation can produce incredible results and can be an effective and powerful tool. Employees that work on the front line of resident/customer engagement are in the perfect position to help facilitate channel shift and digital adoption.
These channel-shift agents can help onboard residents directly, by guiding them through any registration / onboarding process that may be required. They can address any concerns the prospective user may have, quickly and efficiently instilling confidence in those that might be wary of transacting in a way that may be unfamiliar to them.
Customer Support Agents who work through telephony systems can also be leveraged to perform the same actions over the phone, at the end of a particular call for example.
Any touchpoint that one has with a resident or customer is an opportunity to promote, explain and educate, and help to preserve the human element during a channel shift strategy.
Promoting the Personal
Personalisation is a cornerstone to delivering a successful channel shift and should be positioned front and centre when running any form of awareness campaign. Personalisation ensures residents/customers enjoy a significantly improved experience.
By delivering information and services specifically tailored to the individual’s needs and circumstances, the power and benefits of the new channel can become obvious and easy to understand.
Creating a proper Communications Plan in order to inform your customers about your new self-service portal is a vital part of ensuring great take-up. And making use of all available channels to do this is what drives success.
Of course, this plan will need to be amended over time: those who are tech-savvy will probably come on board quite quickly but after the first year, it becomes more difficult to persuade others.
VerseOne has worked with a range of social housing providers, and we can help you to build a detailed and inventive plan that can help to address all residents — and drive continued growth in your online solutions.