SMS, the missing piece of omni-channel communication for councils

Discover how omni-channel communication is transforming the future of council communications.

As the majority of consumers become more comfortable with technology, we are increasingly finding that they will choose automated services until an agent is the last option. The convenience of using our mobile phone to communicate through new and more efficient channels than voice is transforming the way public sector agents and their service users interact.

More than 56 million UK residents now own a smartphone, meaning there is an increased level of accessibility to these channels which in turn has led to a higher expectation for 24/7 customer service.

The question is, how well equipped are council contact centres to deal with the demands of today’s mobile society?

Our research has shown that within the public sector only 36% of contact centres describe themselves omni-channel, despite the increasing need to make cross channel experiences seamless as customers demand more streamlined services.

Improving services with channel shift

Agents are continuously finding that they are switching between chat, phone and social interactions across multiple platforms. It’s clear that the need for omni-channel communication is only increasing along with the ability for agents to hold more conversations without juggling multiple programs. With this in mind, we’re seeing a growing number of councils and housing associations channel shift to more economical forms of communication like web-chat and SMS.

This change in council communications strategy is not only more cost effective but alternative channels like SMS and online chat also offer more convenient forms of contact for the mobile market and are easily integrated into existing programs. Similarly, these additional services help to reduce call waiting times and allow agents to better route customer enquiries.

Customer experience technology

Using SMS gives councils the opportunity to anticipate customer needs so that engagement is more efficient and where appropriate more proactive. Through omni-channel communication, agents are able to share news about community services, bin collections and support groups with a large number of contacts or simply set up a keyword and Short Code with an auto response, encouraging self-service.

Leeds Council found that 15% of online customers were taking up the webchat invite when offered, with 93.8% of users rating the service as excellent or very good. Our research increasingly shows the ability mobile and SMS has to improve customer service and user satisfaction.

Using mobile communication channels allows councils to perform vital services with speed and efficiency, sending customer feedback surveys directly to a resident’s handset along with important rental and maintenance reminders.

In conclusion

By 2020, the demand for more streamlined services will be amplified as the number of opted in mobile users exceeds 48 million (The State of SMS). As the number of opted in service users grows contact centres will be forced to invest more heavily in customer experience technology.

Many councils are already making positive steps towards transforming their existing technology and practices to provide better services and communication, but it’s clear there’s still more that could be done to adopt omni-channel marketing.

As the UK’s mobile society continues to grow, there is a vast opportunity for councils and contact centres across the public sector to capitalise on the communication possibilities of their evolving contact base.

To discover more about how councils are already reaping the rewards of integrating SMS into their contact strategies visit our case studies page here.

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