What is Omnichannel Customer Service? Why it matters?

Omnichannel customer service

Customer communication has evolved with the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning bots. There has been a shift from traditional channels to omni channel customer service strategy to deliver a great support experience.

Companies that delivered strong omni channel customer service retained 89% of their customers. Hence, it becomes crucial for businesses to make it convenient for customers to get in touch with them. 

So how do you plan your omni channel vision to enhance the customer care standards?

Before we go deeper into the strategies, let us understand what omni customer service is and its importance.

What is Omnichannel customer service?

Omni channel customer service can be defined as a synchronized operating model in which all of the communications channels are aligned to deliver consistent support. In an omnichannel approach, businesses effectively operate as a single channel, delivering high value customer experiences across all the touchpoints. 

Implementing omni channel strategy helps businesses in better understanding the customer lifecycle, their conversation history to deliver personalized support by integrating the reactive channels with the digital channels. 

 

What is Omnichannel Customer Service

Unifying all channels under one platform ensures consistency regardless of touchpoints used by the customers. It helps customers to interact whenever, wherever, and however they want.

Why omni channel customer service is important?

Omni channel customer service is all about delivering a more cohesive, integrated customer experience, free of restrictions no matter how a customer reaches out to you. It allows a seamless transition between channels and have the same experience the whole way through.

For example, customers can hop from their desktop to phone and then walk into a physical store and experience similar service across the channels.The ultimate goal of omni channel customer support is integrating every outreach method in one board to eliminate siloed engagements.

Why is Omnichannel Customer Service important

Here are some key reasons that prove the worth of omni channel customer service.

  • Faster resolution rate: Omnichannel businesses are capable of handling customer requests faster by using digital tools and strategies which increases the resolution rate as well as customer satisfaction.
  • Enhanced customer experience:  When brands engage across all online and offline customer service channels and deliver consistent support, there is a boost in customer experience.
  • Streamline customer journey for better insights: Businesses can easily understand the customer lifecycle better with conversation history and deliver personalized real time support.
  • Reduce customer churn: Customers expect instant response and when they are entertained across their preferred channels in real time, there is a significant reduction in the customer churn rate.

How to build an omnichannel customer service strategy (Tips & best practices)

Once businesses have selected between omnichannel vs multichannel customer support strategy, it is crucial to understand and implement the benefits of strengthening the omni services to deliver better customer engagement.

Let us start a comprehensive discussion on deploying a successful omnichannel communication strategy.

1. Understand your customer expectations

“The very first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” Roy H. Williams

For knowing customer expectations, you need to understand their journey and their entire lifecycle. Customers expect contextualized engagement and seamless transitions between channels. Businesses who engage customers by understanding them are able to deliver a personalized service experience.

Businesses that choose an omnichannel customer service strategy have gained an 89% increase in customer retention and a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue.

Omni channel customer service - understand customer journey

When you understand how customers interact with your brand across multiple channels, you can begin to optimize your processes to reduce customer frustration, bridge the gaps, and help nudge customers towards conversion. 

In order to build a successful omni channel customer engagement strategy needs to focus on the framework of customer interaction. The key components are as follows:

Know customer wants and needs

Omni channel customer support strategy helps to gain customer insights into their profile and previous interactions. Their journey maps can be used to personalize interactions and meet their needs or exceed expectations. Thus, delivering an optimal multi channel messaging experience and increased opportunities for future interactions. 

Identify the most preferred channels

Every business has a specific target audience. As you try to figure out their needs, you need to identify their preferred channels of reaching your business. You need to consider both reactive and proactive channels in order to make your omni channel customer service approach successful.

Map customer journey

Mapping their journey provides valuable insights on their previous interactions, conversation history, etc. that helps to take proactive actions. Based on the insights, you can create a process to deliver customer support with the right channels like self service portal, chatbot, live chat, or visual engagement tools.

Best practices

  • You can collect customer feedback to know whether your customers are satisfied or not. Accordingly, you can improve the support process and exceed customer expectations.
  • When businesses go omni channel, you are able to reduce the number of customer touchpoints by reaching them across various channels.

2. Provide self service options to customers

Businesses are recognizing the benefits of reliable self service portals for improving the overall brand image. Not only that, but it also allows businesses to stay ahead of the game and adapt to the new ways of communication rather than just following the traditional rules.

Self service portals provide customers with instant access to information, allow personalization, and save valuable time and business resources. 67% of customers prefer to use self-service options instead of speaking with a company representative.

There are many ways you can build a content hub in the form of tutorials, manuals, videos to help customers to solve their problems on their own. They effectively engage customers in the following ways:

 

  • Improves agent productivity: With self service options reducing the support tickets raised, agents can be managed for other priority tasks.
  • Reduce customer service costs: When customers are able to find answers on their own, it reduces the agent’s support requirement and the volume of tickets.
  • Increase positive recommendations: Such portals help to strengthen the brand reputation by creating positive client interactions.
  • Educate customers: You can expand your customers’ knowledge & skills they require for solving other similar issues in the future. 

 

self service example - omni channel customer service

MIF, the mutual insurance provider built service portals to deliver excellent customer experiences. The portal integrates 7 existing business applications and 35 web services onto one single platform for more than 50,000 members. 

The customers have easy access to services such as accessing and managing policies, modifying personal information, and directly consulting MIF advisors. Empowering customers with greater control over their own accounts increased customer satisfaction and encourages MIF to continue offering greater digitization of processes.

3. Respond to customers instantly with live chat

One of the topmost frustrations of customers is longer wait time when they reach out to you for support. The single bad experience is good enough to demotivate customers and leave your brand permanently. 59% of customers are more likely to make purchase decisions when brands answer their queries in under a minute.

Live chat is a perfect solution to combat customer frustrations. The tool helps to significantly reduce the queue time by providing real time sales and support assistance to customers. When customers receive instant engagement, what they expect their satisfaction increases.

Omni channel customer service - live chat for instant response

Source: Hotjar

Businesses that offer live chat witness a 34% rise in customer satisfaction rates.

How live chat helps to improve omni channel communication strategy?

  • Immediate assistance: It helps to provide instant solutions to all the sales and support related queries. By routing the conversation to the right support team the queries are solved faster.
  • Increase customer satisfaction: It drives customer satisfaction by reducing wait time and converts visitors to loyal customers who not only retain with your brand but also advocate with positive word of mouth.
  • Proactive customer engagement: You can engage customers proactively in the right direction before the doubt becomes a big problem. 

4. Engage customers with live engagement tools

To deliver personalized real time support is a big challenge faced by most of the businesses. For a successful omni channel communication strategy, you can empower the customer support team with live customer engagement tools such as co-browsing and video chat, to build long lasting relationships with their customers.

With the advanced tools, your support agents can connect with customers in real time by collaborating with their browser or having face to face personalized conversations. They help to identify the issue faster and provide effective solutions.

How co-browsing and video chat deliver effective omni channel customer engagement?

  • Faster resolution of customer issues – By direct interaction or collaborating the browser together with customers, agents acquire first-hand knowledge and offer faster solutions than reactive channels significantly improved first contact resolution rates.
  • Streamlined customer support in real time – Direct interactions have a great impact on customer satisfaction. With the co-browsing solution, customers can be assisted instant and resolve the issues in first contact itself.

5. Enhance your social presence

Social media is considered to be a great customer service tool that helps to drive customer satisfaction rates. 80% of consumers use social channels to engage with brands. Over 34.5% said they preferred social media over the reactive support channels like phone and email.

Managing social media conversations over all channels such as  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram is hectic. By implementing social media tools, you can listen to your audience and deliver consistent service across all platforms.

Having an omni channel support strategy in place, here is how your brand can achieve social media customer service objectives:

 

  • Prompt customer service: Customers choose social media to interact with brands as they get instant attention. Promptly responding to your customers across their preferred channels improves omni channel customer service. 
  • Increase brand awareness: Social media enhances brand engagement by knowing their target audience and positioning their products or services for them as the best option.
  • Word of mouth: Happy customers turn to be the best brand advocates. 71% of customers share their brand experiences and recommend it to their friends & family.

Omni channel customer support - social media customer service

Source: JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways, for example, shows how their customer service representative handles the frustration of an angry flyer. Replying to such responses needs being polite and using positive words can make customers feel heard.

Best practices:

  • You should be prompt in responding to social media comments and posts. By analyzing comments you can deliver the right solution that will keep your customer churn rates low and boosts brand awareness.
  • Always mind your tone while handling customers across social channels. Try to keep it conversational.

6. Balance automation & human to deliver a hybrid support

Hybrid support is really happening in the new era of customer experience. Businesses can level up customer service experience by balancing AI chatbots and human support to deliver hybrid support (including the best of both worlds). 

Choosing the hybrid support approach requires a thorough understanding of the use of live chat vs chatbot by learning the pros and cons of both channels. The balanced support approach manages the resources on priority tasks. You can use chatbots at the primary stage and put human support for complex conversations.

However, using chatbots helps to engage customers by answering their simple queries and pre-qualifying leads by asking relevant questions.

How can customer service chatbots help to communicate better with customers?

  • 24×7 support: You can engage your customers round the clock to answer tFAQs and increase customer satisfaction..
  • Collect customer details: Use bots to automate the repetitive tasks of collecting information when the conversation begins and then transfer to the right team or self-service options. 
  • Build customers’ trust: Chatbots use the insights from previous customer service touchpoints and apply them to present customer interactions. 

Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Your customers will not face any inconvenience as the transition is absolutely seamless when made between the chatbot and human agents.
  • The hybrid support approach minimizes touchpoints for overall resolution. If the bot is not able to fix the issue, they are handed over to the right agent for an accurate solution possible in the first contact.

7. Measure your customer service metrics regularly

Customer service KPIs or metrics is a measurement of team performance used by businesses to monitor and analyze customer relations by considering the overall customer journey. 70% of consumers say they have already made a choice to support a company that delivers great customer service.

The key customer service KPIs or metrics used by businesses to monitor and analyze customer relations are as follows: 

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) – NPS metric measures customer experience and finds out how likely your customers are to recommend you to their friends and relatives. 
  • Retention rate – It helps to find out whether your customers are satisfied with your service and choose to retain your business.
  • Number of touchpointsThe metric indicates total touchpoints made by the customer to get the right resolution. 

 

 

Measuring customer service is vital for businesses as it helps to understand how well your business is performing and customers’ perception of your products & services. It also helps to improve the gaps to achieve complete success in areas as follows.

  • Increase team performance: Measuring customer service with the defined metrics & KPIs, you can know about your team productivity. Further, you can schedule training and improvement plans to enhance customer service benchmarks.
  • Customer satisfaction: Customer satisfaction score is an important KPI for customer service. If your customers are satisfied they will be with your brand that will increase their lifetime value and also recommend to their friends and colleagues.

8. Deliver a great mobile experience

In today’s time, mobile accessibility is everything. If your website is not mobile optimized, then you are in deep water. Customers tend to complain when a mobile site is not displayed properly, delay in loading, or is difficult to navigate. 

Akamai report says, “100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7%.” It clearly means that even the least wait time in website loading or haven’t optimized their websites for mobile users, can negatively impact user engagement and conversions.

These frustrations are compounded when they are looking for assistance.

Omni channel customer support - mobile optimized support

Source – Superoffice

As omni channel support includes mobile devices, it is vital that your website, as well as the mobile applications, should have fast load times, accurate search results, and accurate displays. 

Pro tips: 

  • Make certain that all your customer support and solutions pages are mobile-friendly.
  • Ensure that your website engagement strategies focus on mobile optimization while designing the website.

9. Empower your support team with right skills

One of the important aspects for businesses who focus on building omnichannel customer service strategy is to educate and update your team with proper skills. It is essential because it helps to agents to maintain proper communication with customers.

The important areas of training the support representatives are as follows.

 

  • Product knowledge: Deliver adequate product knowledge to agents so that they can impart it to the clients when they reach out to the physical stores.
  • Communication skills: Having the knowledge of positive scripts, empathetic attitude, soft skills helps agents to handle angry and frustrated customers.
  • Support etiquette: Train your team with the right customer service etiquette will help customers to handle customer queries across online and offline channels.

 

 

Final thoughts on omnichannel customer service

Omnichannel customer service is a strategic direction for businesses than a tactical one. However, having an omni channel strategy is not enough. In order to deliver a great omni channel customer support, businesses also need to train their customer-facing teams to be able to understand various customer data points across each interaction. Building a well trained, dedicated support team is one key asset to transform your business into an omni channel-centric and enhance brand credibility.

Snigdha Patel
Author’s Bio

An avid reader, eclectic writer, blogger, and content writer by profession at REVE Chat, Snigdha Patel endeavors assiduously to understand complex support channels and provide information regarding them through comprehensive blog posts.

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