Driving channel shift with site search

What is channel shift and should you have a strategy for it?

What is channel shift and why is everyone talking about it?

‘Channel Shift’ is the process of creating the most efficient and cost effective channels for your customers and users to find the information they need – for instance shifting them from your phone support to cheaper online service channels.

Sounds great? The trouble is that channel shift is like that gym membership, or maybe that diet you were supposed to start. Everyone talks about it and everyone knows they should be doing it, but it is often tricky to begin, so we tell ourselves next week will be our week – the week that things will be different.

In a time of dwindling budgets and pressure on resources it stands out as one of the few buzz phrases that is actually worth paying attention to, so the good news is that your channel shift process doesn’t need to be as painful as you might think.

The smallest of changes in your online presence, through more effective site search can have a big impact on the numbers of users who no longer need to phone your call center, visit your contact hubs or email online support. So, what do you need to do to start turning those phone calls into online answers?

How site search can help with channel shift

Firstly you need to realize the value of the search bar on your website. Search is the gateway to the internet for the majority of your users, most of whom will have arrived at your site via a search engine, so make sure that you can meet their expectations and serve them the answers they seek when they type those keywords into your search box.

To do so, you need to ensure that your search engine has the ability to include (and just as importantly exclude), all of the content repositories you have to offer, and maybe even index some public resources which answer the questions of your users (such as central government, health-boards etc.).

With all of your content libraries now covered by your search bar, you can begin to be more helpful, offering users faceted and contextual navigation as well as intelligent auto-complete capabilities to help steer their journey towards the most relevant results. By presenting them with the information they are looking for, your users are now less likely to have to pick up the phone or make other direct enquiries.

You can go further still, using your search solution to provide targeted experiences; outputting results on maps, searching by postcode, allowing for short-listing and comparison baskets and even dynamically serving content related to what you know of a visitor, up-weighting content that is most relevant to them based on their browsing history or registered account.

Couple any of the features above with some intelligent search analytics, that highlight the content your users are finding and importantly what they aren’t finding (allowing you to make the relevant connections through promoted results, metadata tweaking or synonyms), and your online experience is starting to become a lot more appealing to users than that queue on hold at your call center.

With the ability to reduce costs to your organization, whilst improving user experience, can you afford to ignore your site search or channel shift strategy any longer?

After all, isn’t it time that you started that diet?

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