The more technology advances, the more it’s integrated into our daily lives. Brands are doing their part to make themselves widely available and knowledgeable of their customers, but many struggle to implement a service strategy that truly meets customers on their terms. To do so, they need to incorporate a strategy that drives customer satisfaction and loyalty at all times instead of resolving issues one by one. This requires an omnichannel strategy.Get a call back
Omnichannel support is a customer interaction model for businesses that allows customers to reach brands on a variety of communication channels, from traditional call center support to email, social media, live chat, and more. The idea of omnichannel means to give customers multiple ways of contacting support so they can choose the way that’s most convenient at the moment. Ideally, with omnichannel support, these various communication channels are connected and integrated with each other.
For example, Starbucks rewards app is considered as one of the top omni-channel experiences out there. First, you get a free rewards card that you can use whenever you make a purchase. But unlike traditional customer loyalty programs, Starbucks has made it possible to check and reload your card via phone, website, in-store, or on the app. Any change to the card or your profile gets updated across all channels, in real-time. Standing in line to get a coffee and realize you don’t have enough on your balance? Reload it and the cashier will know it’s been updated by the time you swipe your card.
An omnichannel approach improves customer service by providing multiple communication options. The back-end integration of channels also allows for more flexibility, as the customer can switch between channels throughout an interaction.
Omnichannel support, if executed properly, provides a consistent experience for customers at every touchpoint after the acquisition. True omnichannel support ensures seamless transitions and experiences across channels.
The advantage of offering more than one channel of communication is that customers can communicate via the channel that is preferable to them at any given moment. This can be in the form of omnichannel or multichannel support – two similar, yet different approaches.
Multichannel support is exactly what it sounds like–multiple channels through which a business provides customer support.
At any given time, a customer can choose to use whichever method is convenient for them. For instance, if a customer has a simple question, they may choose to communicate via SMS or a live chat option. If their question is more in-depth and difficult to articulate through typing, they may choose to call and speak to an agent directly.
Multichannel support delivers convenience to customers, allowing them to choose the method of communication that works best for them in different scenarios. This approach shows that the business cares about the customer’s preferences and overall experience.
“Omnichannel support takes the customer experience to the next level.”
This approach focuses on the seamless integration of the channels available. Not only can a customer choose the method of communication that is most convenient for initiating an interaction, but they can transition between different methods in the same interaction.
For instance, if a customer is interacting with an agent through live chat but doesn’t feel the issue is being resolved, that same agent can call the customer directly to continue the conversation through a voice phone call. This allows for a more effective resolution in the same interaction. The customer doesn’t have to start over with a new agent or spend time figuring out which method of communication they should try next to resolve the issue.
This results in a smooth customer experience, where the customer’s issue is resolved in one seamless interaction.
The biggest difference between multichannel and omnichannel support is that the first centers on the different sales channel offerings while the second is consumer-centric. Omnichannel retail focuses on enhancing the customer experience by offering more flexibility to customers to engage with the brand as they wish.
From the perspective of the customer, well-executed omnichannel support will result in a smoother overall experience. Here are a couple of reasons why:
In multichannel, there is a tendency for channels to become siloed, possibly leading to a different experience for the customer in each channel. Even if those channels aren’t utilized in the same interaction, the customer will notice a difference in experience over time. Omnichannel focuses on consistency across channels, so that no matter when or which channel, the customer experience will always be of the same caliber.
While multichannel offers different options for the customer to choose from, it doesn’t always make it easy for the customer to interact. If one channel isn’t working for a customer, it’s up to the customer to start a new interaction in a new channel, which can be frustrating and confusing. Omnichannel makes these choices and transitions easy for a customer to make, without them having to think about it. Customers don’t want to think about channels; they just want an easy interaction that solves their issues quickly.
From the perspective of the business, omnichannel is a significant investment. Not only does it require highly integrated technology, but true omnichannel support requires every employee to operate from the mindset of delivering a seamless and consistent customer experience.
Channels cannot work in pits. Agents must be agile enough to toggle between channels without causing an interruption in customer interaction. Each channel, although unique in the communication method, must provide a consistent experience for the customer, every time.
To illustrate which is the best choice for businesses between multichannel and omnichannel, consider the following scenarios:
The customer visits the Company’s website, browses its products, and makes note of a specific item. The customer then drives to the company’s local retail store, choosing to purchase the item in person. Unfortunately, the Customer is unable to locate the item in-store and, after asking a service rep for help, discovers the store doesn’t have any of the items in stock. The customer leaves the store empty-handed and disappointed.
The same Customer visits another company’s website, browses its products, and finds the exact item they’re looking for. The item is listed as in-stock at the company’s local retail spot, so the customer adds the item to their online wishlist and drives to the retailer. Once inside, the customer is greeted by a service rep who uses a tablet to access the individual’s wishlist and immediately locate the item in question. The customer then finalizes their purchase as usual and drives home after an overall satisfying experience.
In the first scenario, the Company provides the ability for customers to engage with their brand in multiple ways—but this doesn’t add much value to their overall experience. In fact, in this scenario, the discord between channels causes frustration in the eyes of the customer.
In the second scenario, all touchpoints and engagements are part of a centralized experience for the customer. They can truly “pick up where they left off” with the brand in question, regardless of the channel being used.
There’s no miscommunication, misinformation, or redundant processes involved—the customer gets what they wanted, how they wanted to get it. Period.
Which of these two options would you choose: a product from a company that pulls your data from your previous online experiences and doesn’t ask too many questions or something from a company that asks you to spend time filling out multiple forms? You likely want to do business with a company that knows what it’s doing and uses the information it has already collected from you to make your life easier.
70% of customers “say connected processes are very important to win their business (such as seamless handoffs between departments and channels, or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions).” Furthermore, over 80% of customers are willing to give a company relevant personal information to bridge the connection between their online and in-person experiences.
The successful omnichannel implementation offers multiple ways to prevent disconnected departments and processes from happening. It supplies representatives from all your departments with all the company’s information about a specific customer. For instance, a customer began messaging through your website’s integrated chatbot about an issue but then decided to contact your call center. As the customer switches from one channel to another, they expect (or at least hope) they won’t have to re-explain what they need.
The omnichannel experience focuses on the overall customer experience, making it smoother, more consistent, and highly personalized for customers.
There’s a good chance the leaders in your industry already use use omnichannel marketing because the solutions are affordable for SMBs as well as enterprises. Companies from large enterprises and national non-profits to regional insurance providers who benefit from having a data-rich understanding of their customers.
Global enterprises were some of the first adopters of omnichannel support because shared data can make it easier to overcome language barriers and provide 24/7 service to customers.
As the technology matured, more features and capabilities have been made available to smaller organizations that need to meet their customers on preferred channels. Today, new digital businesses are often the biggest adopters of omnichannel software.
Ecommerce businesses, for example, interact with customers primarily online and through chat.
By enabling chat tools as well as phones to be used as a backup should difficult problems arise with customers, Converged Technology Professionals helps businesses find the best omnichannel solution that engages customers on their preferred channels, making service more enjoyable, effective, and reliable every day.
This year hasn’t gone as anyone expected (biggest understatement right there). COVID-19 threw a wrench in the year 2020, and every industry has felt its effects. Customer Experience is no exception. The CX industry has changed rapidly this year. Digital consumerism went through the roof and remote work became the norm.
The companies that have slid through 2020 with the fewest bruises are the ones that already had strong omnichannel systems in place. They built goals with the future of omnichannel in mind, and now they’re ahead of the curve. Consumers have gone completely digital-first–buying everything from groceries to furniture online–and a lot of companies are swimming hard to keep up. Though we don’t know what next year holds, it’s clear that omnichannel solutions are here to stay.
Here are seven strategies to follow to keep up with the future of omnichannel.
The future of omnichannel lies in keeping things personal.
Some 79% of customers say personalized customer service is more important than personalized marketing.
So when your company considers where to place its efforts in an omnichannel strategy, keep your customers’ needs and interests at the forefront. Your customers have already decided to be just that–your customers. If you treat customers like another number, you aren’t valuing them as individuals. And they can tell.
The personal touch your customers look for often starts with your agents. Coach your agents regularly, so they know how to listen to your customers and respond kindly.
If you do even simple things like asking your customers how they want to communicate, you maximize loyalty and minimize frustration.
With the right omnichannel tools, your agents get access to detailed customer history and can pull up this kind of information with little effort, without putting your customers on hold.
A positive, personalized experience leads to better reviews and referrals. When you deliver on customer expectations, you grow brand loyalty and advocacy. 77% of happy customers will refer your company to family and friends. And, another 52% will recommend you on a social media platform.
Lean into a more personalized approach and everybody wins. You will end up with stronger employees, satisfied customers, and high referral ratings.
As digital demand keeps skyrocketing, companies depend more on digital assistants and chatbots. Right now, about 50% of businesses say they’re planning to spend more on chatbots than mobile apps.
You may be asking, “Doesn’t a chatbot sound like the opposite of personalized?” A chatbot isn’t a real human, true. But there are many ways your company can use chatbots without sacrificing that personal touch.
With the right tools, your bots will be able to pull the right customer data so each interaction still feels personal. Customers will still feel known.
Chatbots can cut pressure on your agents, too. Agents often get overloaded with customer questions, complaints, and tedious tasks. You can use chatbots to handle tedious, but simple, tasks that free up agents to do more problem solving with customers.
Bots and automation can also increase customer engagement. You can define rules to have your bots help with easy problems 24/7. This way, you can reach a more global market and collect more customer data around the clock.
The digital era has changed the face of retail and given rise to an entirely new kind of shopper. Today’s digital consumers enjoy navigating a wide range of channels and shopping journeys. If businesses expect to attract, convert, and delight customers in this highly competitive environment, they should make the customer experience seamless, consistent, and engaging across channels irrespective of the point of sale.
Top global brands are spending millions of dollars on building multichannel strategies. However, as companies spin their wheels and channels continue to evolve, customers adopt innovative technologies and take on new behaviors. But customers don’t think much about the channel, what they care most is about the experience. To meet evolving customer expectations, businesses need to immediately shift their focus on adopting an omnichannel digital CX strategy with in-store trends diminished in the wake of coronavirus. This change of focus creates a customer experience that advances with technology and the customer, increasing customer retention, and ultimately revenues.
Customers have become more comfortable with online commerce this year. As they continue to cozy up with channels like mobile chat and texting, they’ll expect to do even more from their phones. By the end of 2021, industry leaders expect mobile phones will make almost 73% of eCommerce sales.
Not only that but, research also shows your customers are craving help on mobile channels for customer service, too. 77% of consumers aged 18-34 have a positive perception of companies that offer quick channels, like texting, for customer service. And more research proves that consumers are using mobile chat technology such as Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and WhatsApp.
Even before the pandemic, customers were turning to message apps to communicate with businesses. And more than 50% of people say they’re more likely to buy from a company that provides customer service via chat.
Now is the time to integrate mobile channels, like chat and texting, into your omnichannel strategy. It makes communication with your customers more efficient and personal.
More and more customers expect businesses to make it easy for them to solve their customer service issues themselves.
Being able to look up an answer and fix the problem on their own time without having to contact a customer service representative makes it convenient. Nearly three–quarters of consumers prefer to use a business’ website to find a solution vs. other service channels.
There are lots of ways to help customers find solutions with a comprehensive FAQ page being the most widely implemented self-service channel. Even if customers can’t find the answer themselves and need to contact a representative, the availability of reliable information helps facilitate the customer experience.
This reduces the amount of time it takes the customer service agent to solve the problem and the number of times a customer needs to contact customer service.
Don’t discount email just because it’s not a shiny new marketing toy.
Email still works and works very well. Email wins hand-down as being the most effective digital marketing strategy for customer retention with 56% effectiveness, compared to 37% retention effectiveness with social media marketing and 8% effectiveness from mobile advertising. Email also allows businesses to offer branded messages and is a secure platform that customers trust. 38% of consumers prefer communicating online or via email about simple customer service issues. Businesses should be aware that the expectation of a fast reply still applies to email.
Social media can be a great customer service tool, resulting in high customer satisfaction rates. However, many brands fail to understand customer’s expectations when it comes to providing customer service through social listening. There’s a gap between when customers expect an answer after initiating contact and when businesses are responding. 32% of clients want an answer within 30 minutes and 57% of these clients expect the same turnaround on nights and weekends. And a full 12% of businesses don’t respond to customer messages on social media at all!
If you ignore social media communications from their clients or fail to prioritize response speed, you can expect increased churn rates due to customer frustration.
According to a survey by Conversocial, slow responses are regarded even more negatively by customers than when a business doesn’t respond at all.
Increasing speed doesn’t only reduce churn; it results in a positive experience for the customer. In one study that looked at airlines responding to clients on Twitter, a response to a tweet that came in under 6 minutes resulted in a client being willing to pay almost $20 more.
Reducing response times on social media and training employees to provide quick and effective solutions can significantly improve your customer relationships.
Whether you’re ahead of the curve or you’re struggling to keep up after this year, focusing your future strategies on omnichannel will boost your business. Covid-19 has made something clear to us, it is that confinement has changed consumer behavior. Taking into account the customers, throughout their journey, will go through different channels and touchpoints, omnichannel support is imperative for brands in an effort to offer the best possible experience for customers.
An omnichannel customer experience helps companies offer a personalized approach through a smooth, inviting customer journey that drives repeat purchases and loyalty. The process is worth it. Discover how Maxicus can help you create seamless customer experiences across all channels.