So-called omni-channel approaches promising to give consumers more choice are instead leaving them bewildered, with some suspecting they are being used as a delaying mechanism, according to a new study.
The poll, carried out by secure payment and contact centre vendor Eckoh, found that 73 per cent of UK consumers questioned had to repeat details of their customer service complaint in separate interactions during the resolution process.
This is despite the commitment among the businesses in question to omni- or multi-channel approaches which promise to ease waiting times for customers.
Mobile operators, utilities firms, broadband providers, pay TV firms and retailers were seen as the worst offenders.
Tony Porter, head of global communications at Eckoh, who commissioned the report, said: "In too many cases, shoppers find that their service providers are implementing 'multi-flannel' strategies, better at hindering communication than improving it."
According to the survey, the average UK consumer now uses around seven different electronic communication channels, many of them consolidated in one mobile device. Although this means they are adept at organising data across multiple channels, their high expectations are not being met, Eckoh claimed.
Customer frustration mainly relates to wasted time and repetition, Eckoh said, with one respondent in the survey saying: "It appals me that I have to repeat even a straightforward query each time I call or email or use the website. Nothing joins up, despite claims about ease and convenience. I find that I have to share my details again and again. I'm worried that businesses are being pretty cavalier with my personal data."
The omni-channel phrase has crept into common parlance in the IT channel in recent years, with Dell among those to use it to refer to the choice of buying routes it gives its customers.
"Companies without a coherent customer service infrastructure are, in the eyes of the customers, at best falling short of expectations, and at worst are seen as deliberately obstructive," concluded Porter.
"Multi-channel shouldn't mean parallel lines. It means shared intelligence and converged service."
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