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Why the digital journey changes everything and how to keep up

Customer Engagement 2021

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Chapter 3

Step 1: Identify Your Channels

The channels that you choose to include in your digital omnichannel strategy should depend on where your customers are interacting with you. While you don’t have to connect every channel in the book, here are the top digital channels we recommend. (Want to be sure? Ask your customers!)

Real-time channels

Live chat
Live chat enables consumers to connect directly to a customer service agent via the internet. Available on both company websites and mobile apps, live chat is adored for its speed, accessibility, and convenience. According to a study by J.D. Power, customers prefer live chat over email and social media for communicating with brands online. A study by Econsultancy reveals that 79 percent of customers prefer live chat because of the immediacy it offers, while 51 percent prefer chat because it allows them to multitask.

Interesting fact: As a customer support channel, live chat offers a great deal more than just texting back and forth through the chat window. Truly enterprise-ready live chat solutions include audio and video chat, co-browsing, file sharing, and even automatic translation to make the service experience even more personalized and productive.

According to the Aspect Consumer Experience Index, 61 percent of consumers feel that having chatbots in customer service is the way of the future. On live chat platforms, they reduce operating costs and are a cost-effective alternative to a 24/7 human customer service team. They also have a high success rate of solving customer inquiries, freeing up agents to tackle Structuring your journey Adopting a digital omnichannel customer service approach has 3 main components: Identifying your channels | Strategizing your journey | Choosing your technology Customer Engagement 2020: Why the digital journey changes everything and how to keep up 6 more complex issues. Comm100’s 2020 Live Chat Benchmark Report found that bots completed 68.9 percent of their chats without human involvement — up from just 25 percent in 2018. With customer-facing interactions on live chat, SMS, social messaging, and more, chatbots can be found on both real-time and anytime channels.

Interesting fact: When integrated with core business systems like CRM, order processing, and e-commerce platforms, chatbots can do a great deal more than just answer simple questions — they can essentially do anything a mobile app can do, only in a natural, conversational way. Chatbots aren’t just useful for customers; agent-facing AI can assist customer service representatives by suggesting knowledge base articles, building standardized response models, and facilitating agent training.

Anytime channels

Pro Tip

For those times when your chatbot is out of its depth – or for those customers whom you would rather not serve this way – it’s critical to enable effortless escalation to a human agent. Make sure your chatbot knows when and how.

Ticketing and email

Ticketing lets businesses manage more complex customer queries that require either more time to resolve, collaboration from multiple agents, or both. Tickets form the backbone of most mature customer support teams and are generally channel-agnostic. In the digital era, many companies automatically create tickets from email submissions while also allowing messages from other channels — chat, social, SMS — to be converted into tickets as well. Complete messaging history can be attached to tickets so that agents have access to the customers’ full story, even if the issue switches hands (or channels).

Interesting fact: ticketing systems are far more agile and effective for customer service teams than a simple email inbox because these systems allow for easier routing and collaboration, yielding quicker resolutions and happier customers.


SMS texting is the single most used smartphone feature worldwide. It’s the dominant method of communication between individuals, and soon will be between individuals and the brands they support. Even people aged 55 and up send and receive more than 16 text messages a day. Messaging is the quickest and most convenient way to communicate from a mobile device — Imagine the possibilities of letting your customers text you with a question, and then replying to it just as you would if they were chatting or emailing.

Interesting fact: Texting is so ubiquitous and trusted that it is the ideal channel for sharing important information with your customers that requires relatively quick action. From appointment or shipping confirmations to security alerts and product recalls, texting should be a standard channel for every organization.

Social media

Social media brings brands into customers’ personal spheres and lets customers engage with companies publicly or privately. Customer interactions on this channel are important for managing public opinion of your brand and building brand affinity (public), and for responding to direct inquiries (private). With a digital omnichannel approach, agents can handle social media queries directly from the agent console, just as they would any other channel.

Interesting fact: According to a survey by Twitter, 85 percent of SMB Twitter users say it’s important for businesses to provide customer service using the network. Of the customers surveyed, 83 percent said that getting a reply on Twitter improved their opinion of the business.

Knowledge base

More than six in ten U.S. consumers say that their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool, according to a study by American Express. Knowledge bases are available to customers at any time of the day and are critical for customers who prefer to take matters into their own hands. Since information distributed through this channel is consumed at the customer’s pace, when and where they want, this tool can help customers understand the product or service better before purchasing, and helps increase customer loyalty post-purchase. It also relieves pressure from your support team by reducing chat volume.

Interesting fact: Knowledge bases aren’t just for your customers. An internal knowledge base is a vital part of any internal knowledge management (KM) program. And they don’t exist in a vacuum — you can provide access to your external knowledge base right inside your chat window, and to your internal knowledge base inside the agent console, so no one has to think about where to go to find answers.

Pro Tip

Ensure easy access to your knowledge base by connecting to it right from your chat window – it’s the first place visitors go on your website for help!

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