Anna has bought a pair of shoes in a popular online shop. She wasn’t at home when the delivery arrived, so she asked her flatmate to open the package, check if everything is okay, and take a photo. She couldn’t wait to see her new shoes!
Unfortunately, the shop made a mistake and sent her a pair in the wrong size. Anna wants to get the right size as soon as possible. She decides to contact customer service to solve this issue. She sends a message on Facebook Messenger. She decided that was the most straightforward way because she is outside on a mobile phone in public.
Hours pass, no answer. She calls their call center. She explains the situation again because no one read her first message. The customer service rep asks Anna to download a reclamation form from the website, fill it out, and send it via email. She does it. She has now explained herself three times. She decides to buy a new pair of shoes in another shop.
The shoe shop didn’t lose a client by sending the wrong pair of shoes. It lost a client because their customer service was unavailable, distributed, and unhelpful. And they failed to provide omnichannel customer support that the modern customer takes for granted.
What is omnichannel customer service?
Not long ago, customer service was pretty straightforward. Unhappy clients could go to the shop or call a call center. Sending emails wasn’t obvious or wasn’t an option.
Now, with so many communication channels, customers expect companies to reply to emails, social media messages, instant messages, live chats, and contact forms. If they call or visit a shop after exchanging messages, they’re too often disappointed to find out that the person helping them has no clue about the issue and ask for all the details over and over again.
Customers expect unified support across different online and offline channels and companies that are reluctant to provide it lose clients. Omnichannel is an approach where customers receive fully integrated, holistic customer service no matter what communication channel they use. It’s no longer a novelty, but a necessity. According to a report from Aspect Software, companies that introduce integrated customer experience, achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates.
Omnichannel support is a 2021 customer service trend. Want to find out what else is trending? Check out our article: 13 Customer Service Trends That Are a Must for 2021
Omnichannel Customer Service vs Multichannel
Omnichannel is often confused with multichannel, which is also a modern approach in marketing, sales and customer service. But there is a fundamental difference between them.
In multichannel, customer service is widely available. Digital-savvy customers can call a contact center, send an email, tweet, fill out a form, use a live chat or a messenger. In each case, they customer support answers messages and solves issues. In marketing, multichannel means that a brand is present in many different online and offline places. However, in multichannel, each channel is treated separately. If you call a customer service rep and then send an email with additional details, both pieces of information will unlikely be automatically connected.
Omnichannel, on the other hand, means that all the communications channels are connected. The integration and the information flow is flawless. Multichannel is easier to achieve, but it’s better to make the effort and invest in the right tools to provide seamless omnichannel customer support.
Another confusing pair of ideas is customer success vs. customer support. Want to find out the difference? Read: Customer Success vs Customer Support – How to Separate Them
How to Rock Omnichannel Customer Service
1. Pick the Right Channels
Omnichannel means you need to be where your customers are. Not everywhere. That’s why the first step is to choose your channels wisely.
When you started your business, you must have conducted market research that should have included the channel preferences of your customers. If you don’t have enough relevant data, you need to get it.
Analyze how customers usually contact you, create surveys and personas, and find demographic data. You may realize that your audience is reluctant to call but happy to use Facebook Messenger. Or you find that email is their primary communication channel. Or both.
2. However, Be Agile
Even if you’ve made an informed decision about channels and a communication strategy for each, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to it.
New social media and communication methods emerge, and users’ preferences change as they move from one platform to another.
Agility also requires a smooth information flow between different departments. Sales, marketing, and customer support can’t work in silos. They should share relevant information and help each other provide omnichannel customer support.
If that means reconstructing traditional roles and departments, let it happen. Otherwise, your company won’t meet the needs of customers.
3. Let Technology Help
As mentioned, sales and customer support used to be much more straightforward. No one had heard about omni or multichannel support. In fact, salespeople operated on a single channel – if there was an issue, clients came to the same shop where they bought the item.
Customer service didn’t mean sophisticated technology. Even if it did – such technology wasn’t available. Modern customer support is a different story. Without digital tools, it’s impossible to keep on track of all communication channels. Therefore, to make omnichannel customer support efficient, you need to use at least some of the following tools:
- CRM – Customer Relationship Management software, often a must-have to keep track of users’ contact information, purchase history, and other relevant data.
- Marketing Automation Platform – Automates repetitive tasks and provides personalized customer support.
- Email Marketing Platform – If you use email for customer support.
- Call Center Software – Preferably a cloud-based solution that you can integrate with other tools.
- Analytics and Data Visualization Platform – To analyze results and to find bottlenecks and pain points to improve overall user experience.
- Live Chat – A widespread and simple customer service tool, usually a small pop-up window that connects customers and customer support reps immediately.
- Chatbot – A fully automated live chat that, unlike the most efficient person, can talk to thousands of customers at the same time and is available 24/7.
Does that list make you feel overwhelmed? Still afraid of the potential cost and time spent? We have good news! If you choose the right providers, you can integrate the majority of these tools. Besides, using them is an investment because the automation will save you time in the long run.
4. Focus on Mobile
In 2019, over 40% of online transactions were made on mobile devices and 80% of Internet users own a smartphone. These numbers speak for themselves – companies that ignore mobile as a channel are among the first that lose clients.
It doesn’t only concern marketing and sales. After all, people who search and buy via mobile also seek customer support via mobile. The right omnichannel strategy must take mobile into consideration, ideally putting it at the center of their customer experience.
For example, if your clients are avid Facebook and Messenger users, they’re most likely mobile-oriented, as 96% of Facebook users access the platform from a mobile device.
One of the best ways for businesses to be available via Facebook is to integrate Zowie with Messenger, turning the channel into a powerful customer support tool. Whenever an issue is too complex for even the smartest AI-powered bot to solve, Zowie automatically and fluently redirects customers to a customer support team member.
5. Improve Response Time on Each Channel
Customers are impatient. They consider social media the new telephone. They don’t understand why they can get a fast answer by phone but response times on social media are slow.
According to a report from The Social Habit, 32% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes, even on nights and weekends. Businesses that ignore social media as a channel for customer support will likely face a higher churn rate and lower customer satisfaction. A chatbot that’s available 24/7 and can talk to an unlimited number of customers at the same time is the answer to that issue. Together with smart email automation and an efficient call center, a smart chatbot can increase your chances of rocking omnichannel customer support.
- Omnichannel is an integrated, holistic approach to customer service. That means being available wherever customers.
- However, in contrast to the multichannel approach, channels don’t work in silos. Instead, information flows between different channels and company departments. Plus, each channel provides the same customer experience quality.
- Omnichannel customer support is a necessity, not a novelty.
- You’ll rock omnichannel customer support if you pick the right channels, stay agile, use the right digital tools, focus on mobile, and improve response times.