In a constantly connected and mobile society, providing an omnichannel customer service has become indispensable for brands looking to connect with busy customers.
A phone conversation is no longer the only means for customer interaction; customers today communicate via SMS, email, social media platforms, live chat and more. Nearly 50 percent of customers find themselves crossing back and forth between digital and physical interactions, even in a single conversation.
The omnichannel trend reflects consumers’ desire for greater choice and personalisation: they can select the mode of communication which best suits them, use their own devices and access information at any time of day.
Excellent assistance has long been the foundation of customer service. Now, modern consumers also demand speed and immediacy, and an inability to provide this can be fatal for brand engagement and customer loyalty. An Aspect survey on US consumers revealed that 61 percent of millennials stopped using a business based on poor customer service in 2017, while Accenture research has found that the estimated cost of customers switching brands in the UK is $308 billion.
With the proliferation of digital and physical platforms increasing competition amongst businesses, it is more important than ever to create a service which stands out for consumers.
An omnichannel customer service can present certain technological and structural challenges, however if businesses consider these key areas before implementation they can deliver a truly continuous, personalised customer experience.
The success of omnichannel customer service depends upon the seamlessness of each contact point. Customers do not want to repeat information, particularly lengthy personal details, each time they converse with a new call agent or switch to a different channel.
With customer service teams having to operate outbound calls, emails, instant messaging and more, it is necessary to adopt a Customer Interaction Management (CIM) solution which not only manages these channels and the volume effectively, but can integrate with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This supports the transfer of customer data between channels; SMS, live chat and call campaigns can be tailored with customer insight, agents can access records easily and time wastage overall is minimised.
This integration is necessary for making customer interactions more productive. Call agents gain greater control and the customer benefits from a more personalised and continuous experience.
High quality experience across all channels
The millennial generation is the largest consumer demographic, and 22 percent of this group expect a reply to a customer service query on social media within 10 minutes. Whichever channels your business operates across for customer interaction, the same standard and quality must be maintained to meet customer expectations and reduce churn.
Investing in the technology behind your channels will see great returns for the Customer Experience. Voice interaction is one example of this. Long call waiting times and dissatisfying conversations remain common complaints amongst customers, creating a negative experience.
An intuitively-designed Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system makes the keypad selection process easier for customers, allowing the caller to be quickly connected with the appropriate customer service agent. A well-executed omnichannel experience will further reduce strain and congestion levels, resulting in more productive staff as well as satisfied customers.
Don’t neglect the human touch
Understanding your customers’ identity and how they are most likely to contact your business should be the basis of any omnichannel approach. Digital channels are a key part of the omnichannel strategy, however this does not mean that voice interaction has no value in the communication process.
Customer service still involves customer emotions, requiring sensitivity and empathy. The traditional mode of human interaction maintains a vital place in the customer journey and indeed 40 percent of customer service interactions still occur on the phone.
Often explaining an issue or concern is best conducted across the phone, particularly as artificial intelligence devices as yet lack the ability to handle complex and emotive requests. The best multi-channels will balance the human and the digital to ensure customers find the right responses.
Instant communication, instant results
A choice of communication modes is ideal for accommodating the on-the-go lifestyle of modern customers. However, the experience is more frustrating than useful when customers cannot obtain the right answers. Intelligent devices such as chatbots are excellent for instant interaction, yet it is important that these devices are responsive and able to handle customer requests.
The same is also true for social media sites which are becoming an increasingly popular platform for customer service. A brand’s Twitter or Facebook page will likely deal with a huge volume of customer interactions daily, often leaving customers without a reply. Customers do want instant customer service, however ensuring that they receive useful assistance is still paramount to building a great customer experience.
As ever, it is vital that businesses consider what customers expect from their customer service. A frictionless experience across all the contact points depends upon superior customer knowledge and understanding how, why and when your customers will require assistance. Incorporating some intelligent tools which integrate your channels will simplify the process for customer service teams, allowing them to focus on the human communication.