How companies handle customer service has dramatically changed over the years. It has evolved from mere telephones to more advanced A.I. systems such as chatbots and auto-generated messaging.
Today, companies can now deal with customers in multiple channels. Customer service is no longer limited to phone calls or faxes.
Omnichannel customer service has provided businesses opportunities to deliver better and more integrated support.
And the statistics seem to agree. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, companies that implemented omnichannel customer support were able to retain more than 80% of their customers.
On the contrary, companies that relied on customer service silos could retain only over 30% of customers.
So what’s omnichannel customer service really about? How do you choose and implement customer service modules that match your business needs?
Below, we discuss this concept, recommended omnichannel strategies, and other techniques to boost sales and facilitate growth. Let’s dive in.
Omnichannel Customer Service, Defined
Omnichannel customer service refers to a centralised and fully-integrated operating model. All communication channels are aligned to deliver a consistent customer experience across the board.
Through an omnichannel customer service approach, businesses can deliver more value to their customers.
Having multiple platforms to interact with customers helps business owners understand the customer lifecycle and deliver a personalised customer experience overall.
Integrating all the channels under one roof ensures a consistent and seamless experience for the customers, no matter which touchpoint they use.
For instance, companies can now manage customer interactions through web messaging, SMS, email, social media, and many more.
A customer support team may initially interact with the customer through a mobile device. Then, the conversation may continue with emailing and end with a phone call — whatever the customers prefer.
Alongside these advancements in customer service is an increase in customer expectations. According to a Forrester study, almost 60% of retail sales in the U.S. will be influenced by digital channels or touchpoints by 2022.
And, it’s no surprise. Customers expect an instantaneous and seamless experience. They don’t want their complaints to drag out for several days, especially for digital purchases.
But, not all businesses are in the same trade. Different industries require different approaches to omnichannel customer service.
This is why understanding the best omnichannel practices is key to ensuring the customer journey remains smooth throughout.
What Are The Best Practices For Omnichannel Customer Service?
1. Optimise Your Digital Channels
Recent statistics show that 79% of smartphone users in the U.S. have bought something online through their mobile devices.
So, it should follow that optimising your digital channels on multiple devices, be it a desktop or mobile site, must be one of your omnichannel strategies.
As straightforward as it seems, not all businesses have been able to follow suit successfully. They have been prone to providing a less-than-ideal customer experience, even with the advent of mobile accessibility.
Fortunately, optimising for omnichannel customer service can be done in various ways, such as adding a clearly-displayed contact button on your mobile site or app.
Another option would be to include a detailed and mobile-friendly FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page.
These additions can significantly improve how a customer service representative may handle interactions. Change or mix them up as you see fit.
2. Include Self Service Options
Not all customers expect to talk for hours on end with a representative, especially if the problem doesn’t take too much time to fix.
Statistics show that 40% prefer self service options over live, personal interactions.
When a customer has an issue with your product or service, they may not necessarily pick up the phone immediately. Instead of talking with a customer support agent, they prefer finding the solution online through a FAQs page or a self instructional video.
However, this shouldn’t mean that your business can completely do away with phone support — quite the contrary.
Even now, the inability to talk to a real person has been the culprit of 67% of customer frustration. Self repeating chatbots can get annoying and unhelpful in the end.
If you’re implementing self service options, make sure they’re helpful. Make them easily accessible and tie them in with the various channels your business is already using.
Don’t just settle for an A.I. chatbot which will direct already-frustrated customers to a phone call anyway.
3. Speed Up Social Media Response Times
When used correctly, a social media platform can serve as a great customer service tool. It can lead to sky-high customer satisfaction rates and produce loyal customers.
However, not all businesses understand the impact of social media customer service. Many of them still aren’t able to meet customer expectations when it comes to social media response times.
According to recent statistics, 79% of customers expect a response to their social media posts or messages within 24 hours.
39% of customers want a response within the hour, while businesses’ average social media response time was five hours or a staggering 260% slower than the expected response time.
Therefore customer support agents must be empowered to respond as soon as they receive a ticket.
Invest in your support team by training and offering incentives for high-performing agents.
Additionally, optimise the social media experience for your customers. Ensure someone is readily available to reply to posts or private messages.
4. Implement Live Chatting
Live chatting is another omnichannel customer service strategy for your business.
Another study by Forrester found that more than 60% of page visitors are far more likely to revisit a website with a live chat feature.
If you haven’t already, consider implementing a live chat box on your mobile or desktop site.
This feature combines real-time customer interactions with the ability to provide links, collect customer insights, and generate a full transcript for future reference.
Live chatting has become an ideal omnichannel customer service tool for clients who need immediate help. It’s accessible and straightforward. It may be the key to preventing customers from churning and reducing your bounce rate.
5. Machine Learning And A.I.
Machine learning in customer service can support agents through predictive analysis. It can help your support team identify a common trend across customer interactions.
But machine learning and A.I. go further than just your run-of-the-mill chatbot. They’re also effective at getting insights into customer behaviour and your support team’s performance.
AI-generated metrics and analytics can collect and analyse customer data regarding the following:
- Customers’ preferences
- Engagement levels
- Quantity of support interactions
- Resolution rates
Meanwhile, machine learning refers to the ability of the primary customer service channel (in this case, a chatbot) to learn from multiple customer inputs.
Through natural language processing (NLP), your chatbots get smarter each time a customer uses them. Use this to identify other strategies to improve your business’s customer service quality.
6. Provide SMS Customer Support
SMS texting is one of the most popular customer service channels. It enables customers to engage in two-way conversations with a support agent.
For instance, a customer may send a short SMS inquiring about available stocks to your business phone number.
The support agent can quickly respond through SMS or a laptop or computer connected to an integrated omni channel platform.
7. Emphasis On Email Support
More than three decades ago, email messaging was made widely available to the public.
It remains one of the most widely-used and efficient customer retention strategies, with more than 54% of customers using email customer service channels in 2019.
With so many new customer service technologies emerging by the minute, throwing in the towel on your email platform can be tempting.
But hold your horses. Email communication is still the go-to, especially for personalised support. Even Fortune 500 companies are still using email to interact with customers.
Even if you’re already using email support, you’re not in the clear yet. Ask yourself if there are other improvements to optimise it further.
Don’t just stick with generic, auto-generated replies. Set a competitive advantage by offering timely responses, using clear and straightforward language, and being as informative as possible.
Conclusion About Omnichannel Customer Service
There’s no one-size-fits-all omnichannel customer service strategy. Every business has its customer service models, needs, and demands. What might work for one may not necessarily have the same effect for the other.
However, there are some omnichannel best practices every company must understand.
United by definite goals of improving customer service objectives, empowering agents, reducing customer frustration and other KPIs, these omnichannel customer service techniques are well worth the trial and error.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Omnichannel Customer Service
Why Is Omnichannel Customer Service Important?
Omnichannel customer service is important because it facilitates the delivery of a cohesive and consistent experience for all customers. It refers to a well-integrated system allowing customers to connect with a support team through multiple channels, be it:
- Live chat
- Social media
What Are The Benefits Of Omnichannel Customer Service?
Omnichannel customer service offers several strategic advantages to businesses:
- Higher customer retention rates
- Customer loyalty
- Better customer satisfaction
- Multiple channels for customers to interact with your business
- A boost in sales
- Lower bounce rates
What Do Omnichannel Customers Expect?
Omnichannel customers want an all-in-one experience when interacting with your business. For example, a customer may prefer talking to a live support agent or salesman in a brick and mortar store. Meanwhile, another customer may prefer phone calls with another customer service agent.
What Is An Omnichannel Customer Engagement Model?
An omnichannel customer engagement model is a C.S. strategy for modernising and streamlining all interactions across multiple channels/touchpoints. The idea is to maintain a consistent quality of interaction, even as interactions switch across different platforms.
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