Shoppers today have access to more customer service channels than ever before. They’re demanding exceptional service on their preferred channel of choice.
About 71% of shoppers want a consistent experience across all channels — but only 29% are getting one. Moreover, over 50% of companies say “providing a seamless experience across multiple channels” is their top customer experience issue.
Shoppers want omnichannel support, but brands are struggling to meet customer expectations. Omnichannel customer service is essential for brands wanting to exceed customers’ needs and create a favorable customer journey.
This blog defines omnichannel customer service, explains its benefits, and highlights how artificial intelligence (AI) software can help brands deliver it to customers.
What is omnichannel customer service?
Omnichannel customer service is support given to customers that is seamlessly and consistently delivered across different devices, touchpoints, and communication channels.
Digital self-service is the most popular contact channel among customers, but other common options include live chat, email, SMS, social media, and phone.
With omnichannel service, all parts of a company’s customer support system are connected. If a customer starts interacting with a brand on one channel, they can continue the conversation on different channels at a later time. There’s no need to repeat or clarify their issue.
- On Monday, a customer emails a company about an item they ordered online.
- On Tuesday, they call the company for additional pricing information, and the conversation picks up exactly where the email exchange left off.
- On Wednesday, the customer sends some final chat inquiries, and the agent knows exactly who the customer is, what they ordered, and what information they’ve already received.
An omnichannel customer service experience lets customers move conversations forward — on various channels and with different agents. Teams don’t operate in silos. Instead, support agents from all contact centers can access customer data from earlier interactions.
Why is it important to embrace omnichannel functionality?
Digital channels have exploded in popularity. Individual shoppers aren’t likely to have a single preferred channel to use exclusively, and customers are growing more diverse.
Groups of shoppers want to communicate with brands in drastically different ways. For example, 67% of all customers see social media as an effective customer service channel. For customers aged 55 and older, that figure drops to 25%.
Another reason to focus on omnichannel customer support — it’s becoming the norm. In the last decade, the share of companies investing in an omnichannel customer experience jumped from 20% to 80%.
See why omnichannel support is a key step to unlocking efficiency in our blog post, “How to Make Your Customer Service Team More Efficient.”
Omnichannel vs multichannel customer service
Omnichannel customer service is often mistaken for multichannel service. The two terms are similar, but there are some key differences.
Multichannel customer service means having several service channels through which customers can contact you. If a customer visits your company’s website and sees they can contact you via phone, email, or live chat, that’s multichannel support.
These channels don’t have to be linked to one another, though. With multichannel support, if a customer emails a company about a specific issue and then calls them later over the phone, they’ll have to repeat their personal data and case details a second time.
Today, multichannel support is seen as the bare minimum. Most customers worldwide are already actively using 3 to 5 customer service channels. If brands aren’t offering this number of channels, they’re falling behind and leaving customers unhappy.
That being said, customers are still at risk of getting transferred from one agent to another, having to repeat their case over and over again, and getting slower service. Even with multichannel support, 12% of customers identify a lack of speed as their top frustration with customer service and the reason why they churn.
Omnichannel support takes things a step further. A company’s various customer service channels are linked together. Agents have access to conversation history and context, ensuring that any future communication is personalized and up to date.
Omnichannel service also guarantees consistent answers across channels. Giving agents access to the same information minimizes the chances of providing conflicting responses.
The following table summarizes the key differences and similarities between omnichannel and multichannel service.
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What are the benefits of omnichannel customer service?
Businesses can enjoy the following advantages when they offer omnichannel support throughout the customer journey:
1. Improved support metrics
Today, nearly 67% of customers expect a response from a customer service agent in less than 10 minutes. Consistently achieving these results is only possible with omnichannel support.
Agents won’t ever need to ask a customer the same question twice. With saved data and improved workflows, agents can ensure productive customer interactions.
They’re able to efficiently give real-time answers and improve metrics like response times, wait times, and resolution times.
2. Heightened agent efficiency
The improved support metrics omnichannel service enables help maximize agent productivity. With customer data like name, location, and purchase history readily available, customer service reps don’t have to waste time and energy repeatedly asking customers the same questions. They can quickly access a shopper’s past interactions, get up to speed, and move tickets forward.
Even ticket routing is simplified, bringing customers to the right agents without needless delays. Agents can effortlessly connect customers to specialists qualified to handle their unique cases.
When a company syncs all of its support channels, it’s setting its support agents up for success. Many repetitive tasks are handled automatically, meaning agents can resolve cases — while still fostering customer relationships — with much more speed and accuracy.
3. Greater support-driven revenue
By consistently providing speedy, personalized interactions, your brand is more likely to see high levels of customer engagement with an omnichannel approach.
When companies go omnichannel, shoppers see an improved customer experience. As a result, they purchase more. Harvard Business Review found omnichannel customers spend 10% more when shopping online.
Discover all the ways ecommerce brands can use customer support to generate revenue with “The Customer Service-Led Growth Playbook.”
How can you get omnichannel customer service?
Becoming truly omnichannel doesn’t have to be a heavy lift. These steps will get you well on your way:
1. Offer live chat and other digital channels
One of the biggest roadblocks stopping companies from offering omnichannel support is not being available on the proper channels. Phone calls and email alone won’t cut it today.
The table below highlights the current gap between what service channels customers are using vs. what channels support teams are offering:
By going digital through channels like live chat, mobile devices, and text messages, ecommerce companies aren’t just keeping up with the times — they’re delivering faster, more personalized service on the channels that customers are using more often.
Not only does adding live chat on your business’s webpage make it easier for customers to reach out, but it also enables agents to answer multiple tickets at once. That’s why channels like live chat have faster response times and greater customer satisfaction than phone or email.
2. Embrace self-service and automation
Once your customer service is set up on all of your customers’ favorite channels, go the extra mile by automating those channels. 81% of shoppers today prefer using a self-service option to answer their questions instead of contacting a human rep.
Give the people what they want with solutions like an AI-powered chatbot that’s synced up to your knowledge base. Strengthening your website’s live chat with a chatbot can bring a world of benefits to customers and agents alike. Since chatbots can automate upwards of 70% of all incoming tickets, customers get instant answers to most of their questions. With your top FAQs getting fully resolved, agents now have free time to address more urgent issues that require their expertise.
3. Back your agents with AI software
Speaking of expertise, AI tools don’t just make it easier for customer support agents to answer questions. They allow your reps to act as product specialists and answer detailed questions that help convert sales across all your channels.
By tracking and sharing customer conversations regardless of where they occurred, AI equips support teams with the data they need to provide all kinds of assistance wherever customers are. AI can deliver product specs, pricing info, and shipping details right to an agent’s fingertips, letting them recommend the products that each individual customer is most likely to buy.
On top of this, AI can generate even more revenue by proactively reaching out to high-value shoppers at critical moments of the customer journey. If a customer leaves your webpage or abandons their shopping cart, AI can automatically ping them with notifications that offer help, drawing them back to your website, social media page, mobile app, and more.
AI unifies every feature of your tech stack, ensuring service teams can enjoy a customer-centric omnichannel infrastructure.
Unlock omnichannel customer service with AI
To implement an omnichannel customer service strategy, choosing the right customer service software is vital. AI-powered automation technology doesn’t just make omnichannel support possible — it makes it standard, producing a better agent and user experience.
To see how Zowie’s customer service automation suite can deliver your business omnichannel service in hours, book a demo today.