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Some sources claim that the concept of ‘omnichannel’ was coined in 2010. Others even further back in 2003. Whenever and how ever it began, omnichannel has never been more important, and it has now become crucial to successful customer experience (CX).
We all know that the customer drives the strategy behind customer support – after all, ‘the customer is always right’! And it’s no different with the evolution of omnichannel customer engagement. (Here’s a helpful blog on what omnichannel customer engagement really means).
With this in mind, let’s go through the top four characteristics of today’s customer and why, together, they make omnichannel key to providing effective customer support, no matter the industry.
The vast majority of today’s customers are digital-first. But this doesn’t only mean they want to connect with you via digital channels. It means that when they do reach out, they don’t think in channels. They simply want to use the channel that is most convenient to them at that moment. To cater to this, brands have to offer a range of digital channels to these customers, including live chat, email, social media and SMS.
This is known as multi-channel customer engagement and it’s the first step to great customer support – but it’s not enough. The next point explains why.
Offering multiple communication channels is a must, but only if they are connected to one another within one unified platform. With multi-channel, this isn’t the case – each channel is managed within its own separate and siloed platform – and this causes a host of problems that damage customer experiences. Firstly, your agents have to jump between different applications to piece together the story. This slows down resolution speed and leads to longer wait times.
And even if some agents go through the time-consuming effort to find all the relevant information, many simply won’t. Instead, they will ask the customer to repeat their issue again. This is one of the top customer complaints and the perfect recipe for abandonment and low CSAT scores.
Omnichannel solves both these problems. Omnichannel customer engagement fuses every digital channel together and lets agents manage them all from one single, unified console. This means agents will be able to see the full conversation history across channels in one place so customers never have to repeat themselves. The agent can also easily add and update contact information in the system. With a true omnichannel platform that integrates with a CRM system, the agent can also see their purchase history, web page visits, and other key data.
With this much information at your agents’ fingertips, customers will never have to repeat themselves ever again. And what’s more, agents can respond faster and more accurately. Which leads us on to the next customer pain point and how omnichannel solves it…
If any statement is true of customer service, it’s that customers don’t like waiting for a response. In the Customer Experience Survey by Interactive Intelligence Group, a ‘timely response’ was identified as the most valued attribute in customer service. In another study, consumers (38%) cited getting their issue resolved in a single interaction as being the most important aspect of a good digital customer experience.
Whether receiving a response or having your issue resolved, having it done quickly matters most, and omnichannel helps to achieve both. As the previous point explained, the agent has all the key customer information at their disposal within an integrated omnichannel platform. This will naturally help to speed up resolution time as they don’t need to hunt for information or switch between platforms.
An integrated knowledge base will also help produce quick responses and resolutions. Connected within the console, an agent can quickly search for the information they need without even leaving the chat window, helping them to provide faster and more accurate support.
To speed up response and resolution times even further, AI-powered virtual assistants are invaluable. By monitoring a live chat conversation in real-time, these assistants can seek and find answers for the agent to consider. This greatly reduces (or even eliminates) the time spent looking for information, as well as typing out the answer. It can also help to speed up training new employees, or with the rollout of product updates.
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For ultimate scalability and efficiency, AI chatbots can’t be beaten. By setting up a chatbot, a large portion of frontline customer care can be automated. This not only enables instant responses, but also frees up time for agents to focus on more complex queries.
If waiting a long time for a response is a top bugbear for customers, then being passed from one agent to another comes in a close second on the frustration scale. An omnichannel platform with intelligent routing helps to put this complaint to bed.
By understanding who the customer is and the nature of their query, omnichannel platforms can route each query to the agent or department that can best resolve the issue. This can be set up through rule-based automatic routing, instantly routing a chat based on location, webpage visits, account data, pre-chat surveys, and much more – all before a conversation begins. By connecting every chat with the right agent, transfers between agents become almost non-existent as the best agent is always put on the job from the get-go.
Setting up and managing an omnichannel solution may appear complicated, with so many moving parts and channels to consider. However, a brand of any size with a small or large customer support team can implement omnichannel customer engagement with ease.
To find out how you can implement an omnichannel strategy with your customer service setup, download our free guide – Mastering Omnichannel CX: A Success Guide.
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