Shopping online for goods and services is now just a way of life and with each passing day, more and more businesses are becoming a part of it. Thus, the importance and growth of online shopping seems set to keep expanding exponentially. However, the new age of digital business has not only changed how we buy goods but also the behavior of consumers.
Why is this you might ask? Its answer is that customers now want a personalized online shopping experience along with quick and unified resolutions to their problems. Moreover, customers expect to get timely responses to service queries across a range of media platforms including a company’s own website as well as their social media channels. In fact, data from NetDNA suggests that over 20% of the customers complain to brands publicly via their social media channels. Thus, brands need to make themselves omnipresent so they can deliver faster customer service outcomes and also boost their overall business growth.
What Does Omnichannel Customer Service Mean?
Omnichannel customer service can be referred to as a way of connecting customers to a brand’s customer service department via multiple communication channels or touchpoints.
However, Omnichannel customer service isn’t only limited to connecting customers with brands as it should also synchronize with customer data (such as previous orders, conversations, and any other relevant information) to create a unified and streamlined process. This in turn then allows customer service agents to have all the relevant user information available to them.
Using this data the customer service agent can then provide faster outcomes to customers’ issues, regardless of their chosen communication channel (website/social media etc). Moreover, It is an excellent way of enhancing the individual customer service experience as the customers themselves do not experience any delays and avoid being asked unnecessary questions about previous purchases.
Some of the communication channels that users use to contact a company include…
- Social Media Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- SMS Texting
What are the benefits of Omnichannel Customer Service?
Omnichannel customer service helps customers connect with a brand in a meaningful way. Customers will always prefer shopping with brands that deliver an exceptional level of customer experience, with part of that experience coming from knowing the agent they are speaking to has all the relevant information to hand about their previous interaction with the brand itself.
Below are a few benefits of having an omnichannel presence for your brand:
- Streamlined Customer Service
Having omnichannel customer service means that all customer data is synchronized and readily available to each individual service agent.
Leveraging this customer data and other call center software, the system automatically connects you to a service agent who is best equipped to help, has knowledge of your customer journey, and can provide personalized solutions to your problems.
- Higher Speed of Customer Resolutions
As per a survey conducted by Comm100, 71% of the customers feel that a fast resolution to their problem from the service team contributes to a better overall customer experience.
Omnichannel can help with this goal as consumers have multiple ways of communicating with a brand about their issues. In addition, you get an immediate response to the service query, and thus the issue (s) get solved more swiftly.
- Improved Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is one of the key goals that successful online brands look for. Thus by delivering an omnichannel customer experience that is convenient, transparent and timely in resolving customer issues, the customers themselves will in return show loyalty to that brand.
- Personalized Customer Service Experience
Personalization is an important way of making a customer feel prioritized, valued, and emotionally engaged with your business. Omnichannel service strategy includes attempting to connect a customer to the same service agent each time they call.
This also helps build the relationship between customer and brand and is more likely to result in customers recommending the company to others. The old adage of “people buy from people” rings true so building a relationship by liaising with the same agent each time is an important part of this process.
- Increased Customer Retention Rate
Brands that offer omnichannel customer service have a 91% higher customer retention rate than the brands without it.
This is obvious when you think about it as we already know that omnichannel customer service provides faster and more efficient resolutions to customer queries. Thus its no surprise that customers who enjoy this level of service are more likely to use that company again in the future.
- Accelerated Business Sales
The omnichannel customer experience also accelerates the sales growth of a brand in many indirect ways. Leveraging the omnichannel experience, customers can access potential purchases or items and shop more conveniently from their social media handles such as Instagram, Facebook, etc., increasing the brand’s revenue. There are various marketing tools available such as Cloudtalk, Snov, and Hubspot that are beneficial in expanding this kind of business growth.
How Does Omnichannel Customer Service Help in Your Business Growth?
The following are ways in which having omnichannel customer service is beneficial to your business:
- It Helps You Understand Customer Behavioral Patterns
An omnichannel customer experience essentially means creating a seamless customer journey with your brand. Today, every customer wants the brand to see them as unique and provide them with options as per their own personal preferences. So to fulfill this desire, the first step is to gather as much user data as possible.
This can be done through customer purchase patterns, surveys and feedback, etc. Once you have data that can describe the customer type, choice preferences, preferred payment method and other such insights, you can segment those customers in a specific cohort and get a picture of their individual customer journey.
- Customize Your Brand As Per User Expectations
Once you have defined the customer journey, the next step is to create ideas on how to make this journey more coherent for the customer. Being omnipresent on multiple platforms is an essential part of doing so.
You must have a robust, powerful, and integrated CRM system to leverage the user data from any channel from which the user has communicated with your brand in the past. This will help you to study the customer requirements in-depth and customize the brand experience in a more impactful way for the customer.
- Get Insights into Customer Experience Data
Remember, omnichannel customer experience is an ongoing process and consistently needs updating and refining. Hence, your service agent must always look to analyze the data gathered from the customers leveraging their call center software.
In addition, they can also collect feedback through surveys, call history, or social media interactions. The more data you collect, the better insights you will be able to generate and eventually the higher the quality of omnichannel customer experience you will be able to provide.
How does Omnichannel Customer Service Differ from Multichannel Customer Service?
Omnichannel and multichannel customer service are often confused with one another. Though they share some common features, they are very different from each other.
Omnichannel service or communication is about unifying, integrating, and synching customer-agent communications across different platforms. Conversely, multichannel customer service is a process that tries to connect brands with customers via different channels (although they are not integrated with one another)
In the case of omnichannel communication, the customer data is synced, and the service agent can start off with communication where they have previously left it with the same customer. However, in a multichannel communication medium, the customers need to restart their story every time they connect to a service agent on a different channel.
Let us look at the key differences for both:
|Omnichannel Customer Service||Multichannel Customer Service|
|It follows a customer-first approach.||It follows a company-first approach.|
|Communication channels are synced and integrated.||Communication channels differ from one another.|
|The focus is to deliver a seamless customer experience.||The focus is to provide multiple ways for agents and customers to connect with one another.|
|Messaging stays consistent across all channels.||Messaging varies from channel to channel.|
Best Practices to Follow for an Enhanced Omnichannel Customer Experience
It is pretty clear that offering omnichannel customer service is valuable for the brand as well as beneficial for the customer. So let us examine practices that can improve your omnichannel customer service strategy:
Instant Response to Customer Issues via Live Chat
The biggest frustration for customers is waiting in queues to reach brand support. One bad experience can motivate a customer to abandon your brand permanently and potentially spread harmful reviews about it. To counter this problem, live chat is the best solution.
Live chat agents can handle multiple customers at a time and significantly improve the queue waiting time. Research has shown that brands that offer live chat have a 34% higher level of satisfaction rate versus those that don’t.
Mapping Customer Journeys with Customer Expectations
Fulfilling customer expectations is what in the long term generates customer loyalty. Thus, you must be aware and constantly look at your customer journeys in order to map your service strategy.
One way to achieve this goal is to look at previous customer conversations and interactions. Secondly, you need to identify the most preferred channels that they usually use for this interaction. Based on this data you can then create a strategy to help them achieve faster outcomes using the least amount of customer support resources.
Delivering Mobile Friendly Solutions
Mobile accessibility is vitally important in e-commerce with customer service being no different. Customers will expect communication channels to be mobile friendly and just as intuitive and when using desktop devices. Thus, make sure your customer support channels and pages are mobile-friendly to an absolute minimum.
Offering Self-Service Options to the Customers
Businesses today are always looking to explore and adapt to new ways of communicating with customers. Offering customers self-service options to solve their problems is one of the most innovative ways of achieving this and is real-time-saver.
Self-service portals offer consumers information and enable them to solve the issues without the need to involve a human at the other end. This method reduces the customer service costs by a substantial margin and is a great way to educate customers on your products.
Integrating Live Engagement Tools
Co-browsing and video chat tools help deliver an effective omnichannel communication strategy that connects brands with customers.
By having a personalized one-to-one video chat problems can be solved more quickly compared to a text-based live chat. Also, these tools are great at streamlining customer support and help make the customer more feel satisfied with the outcome as they have spoken (virtually) directly with an actual person.
Empowering Support Team with the Right Skills
If you wish to build your omnichannel customer service strategy an essential aspect to consider is appointing people with the right skillset. The representatives on the front line of your customer service channel must be acquainted with the right product knowledge, have excellent communication skills, and be well-versed with the call center software that you use to provide positive outcomes for all sorts of problems.
Providing Solutions via Social Media Platforms
Social media is an essential channel for brands who want to provide an omnichannel customer service experience. Moreover, social media is fast and convenient for customers as they don’t need to look up company email addresses or phone numbers – they can just log into their preferred channel and contact a brand directly. Thus, brands must be able to respond in a timely manner and have all the information they need to service each individual customer.
Hybrid Support by Balancing Automation and Human Service
Automation has entered all spheres of life, so why not in customer service support? Artificial Intelligence helps to provide quick outcomes to user problems with efficiency. However, there is a fine line for balancing automation with manual intelligence to ensure the experience is personalized for all customers.
If your brand successfully manages to achieve this it can be a great way to achieve efficiencies as well as providing round the clock customer service support for queries that don’t always require human interaction. The trick is to know the limitations of AI-driven support and recognise if/when the customers want to be dealt with by a human being.
Integrating With Omnichannel-Oriented Tools and Software
The easiest and most efficient way to enhance your omnichannel presence is by integrating your current CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software into your omnichannel customer service strategy.
This will ensure you always have detailed customer history, such as their contact information, personal notes, communication channel preferences, etc that can help you deliver the best solutions to their queries.
Achieving omnichannel customer service is an important part of achieving overall success for your business in the long term. Customers demand fast responses and want quick resolutions to their problems (from their preferred communication channels). Thus, brands that leverage this opportunity and create a successful omnichannel customer service strategy utilizing multiple social media platforms will stay ahead of the game compared to competitors who fail to exploit the opportunity.
Vineet Gupta is a SaaS marketing professional who helps businesses in improving their online presence and lead generation. He blogs at 5minutesseo.com. Connect with him for more engaging conversations on Linkedin.