What is Omnichannel Customer Service? - Best Practices
In today’s age of digital transformation, consumers expect to be able to interact with businesses on a diverse range of devices and across multiple communication channels.
Business operations have adapted to meet new and ever-evolving customer expectations. Today, it’s crucial for organizations to make customer service experiences convenient for customers.
That’s where omnichannel strategies come in.
What is the omnichannel approach?
Omnichannel is a cross-channel approach to support that provides the customer with an integrated experience and drives better customer relationships across traditional and digital channels and touchpoints.
When it comes to omnichannel customer service, there are also elements of marketing at play. The omnichannel approach to customer service predominantly relates to customer engagement. However, it’s also important to consider the effect that personalized marketing across different channels can have on the holistic customer experience.
What is an omnichannel marketing strategy?
An omnichannel marketing strategy refers to an integrated, multi-channel approach that creates a unified customer experience (CX) and eliminates siloed interactions. It empowers the customer to shop or interact with a brand from any device, and still receive a seamless experience.
Examples of omnichannel marketing
- The customer receives an SMS text message regarding a sale or promotion while shopping in-store
- The customer receives a cart abandonment email or sees retargeting ads for wishlisted products
- The customer researches a product online, looks at it in-store, and decides to purchase via a brand's e-commerce website
Channels like social media are used to carry out customer service operations and marketing strategies, so it’s essential that teams from both departments collaborate to create a consistent experience for the customer.
What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel?
Omnichannel and multichannel are two different approaches to customer engagement that are often confused. So, what are the differences between omnichannel and multichannel approaches?
Omnichannel is an approach that provides an integrated experience for the customer that’s consistent and personalized across all channels and devices. It’s a user-based approach that aims to make the experience as easy as possible by allowing customers to reach out to businesses on whichever channel or device is most convenient for them.
On the other hand, multichannel refers to an approach that utilizes various channels, but each channel is independent of the others. They have their own strategy and goals, often resulting in data silos.
Though both strategies focus on multiple channel customer experience, the key difference lies in the fact that a multichannel customer approach isn’t integrated.
What is omnichannel customer experience?
In today’s digital world, customers rely on having diverse touchpoints with a brand during their customer journey. People often switch between traditional and digital channels while searching for products and expect a range of post-purchase support options that cater to their convenience.
Omnichannel experience is the outcome of a customer-focused approach through which a business provides a seamless, consistent, and personalized CX irrespective of the channel or device used to facilitate the interaction.
The omnichannel approach integrates customer service across:
- Desktop and mobile devices
- Online, in-store, and telephonic channels (incl. Chatbots, self-service channels, virtual assistants, and customer service agents)
- Social media platforms.
Businesses need to map the customer journey and remain present across different channels to ensure the customer’s experience and the service they receive is cohesive and consistent.
Benefits of omnichannel customer service
Successful omnichannel customer service initiatives can:
- Enhance CX through consistent and personalized support that empowers the customer to engage online and offline at their convenience '
- Streamline customer journeys and provide better insights by understanding customer lifecycles through conversation records and enabling them to deliver personalized support across multiple channels
- Boost customer loyalty by providing a smooth, personalized service experience that builds value and trust
- Strengthen brand recall by ensuring customers receive a consistent brand experience across devices, channels, and platforms
- Increase revenue by improving customer loyalty, increasing brand awareness, and promoting repeat purchases
Omnichannel customer service best practices
When it comes to implementing omnichannel customer support, some best practices can be used to inform your strategy.
Understand your customers’ preferred channels
It’s critical for businesses to understand where their customers find information, shop, communicate and seek help.You can do this by leveraging relevant data to find out the platforms on which your customers are most active. Consider questions such as:
- Do they have an active online presence?
- Which platforms do they use most often?
- Do they go online to read reviews before making a purchase decision?
Answering these questions will help you understand which channels to engage your customers through. Armed with this information, you can build a customer interaction framework that allows you to pinpoint their wants and needs, identify customer preferences for service channels, and map their journey to ensure support is optimized and consistent.
Respond instantly with live chats
One of the biggest customer support pain points is wait time. Live chat software can combat this by providing real-time support to customers. Incorporating live chat into your omnichannel strategy enables your business to:
- Provide immediate and personalized solutions and support to the customer through live agents
- Improve customer satisfaction with prompt responses and streamlined support that encourages brand loyalty
- Proactively engage with customers to drive conversions and resolve issues before they get exacerbated
Enhance your social media presence
Nowadays, social media has expanded beyond being a simple tool for communication between family and friends. It’s also leveraged by brands to provide great customer service that drives customer satisfaction.
Most people have at least one account on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or something else besides, brands can leverage them for their omnichannel strategy by:
- Delivering efficient and effective support through prompt responses to customer inquiries via messaging and comments
- Increasing brand awareness and customer engagement by positioning products and services for a target audience
- Collecting social data insights and integrating them with other platforms in your strategy to provide cross-channel support
Customers care about self-service options
As part of your omnichannel service strategy, provide your customers with self-service options that enable them to resolve their support issues by themselves.
Providing self-service options where customers can look up answers in online knowledge bases, like a resource library or FAQ section, is convenient and saves time for both customers and agents.
Sharing reliable and valuable information builds trust and helps to facilitate the customer experience. It can also lower costs for your business by reducing the amount of time spent on simple queries and freeing up agents to deal with more complex support requests.
Empower your support team with the right skills and tools to deliver effective customer experiences
An important aspect of implementing an omnichannel service strategy is to ensure your team possesses the right skills to carry it out.
Support representatives are the face and voice of your business, and often the only point of human contact a customer has with your brand. Therefore, it’s crucial that they possess the right skills to deliver effective omnichannel customer service.
Customer service teams should be knowledgeable about products to answer support queries, possess excellent communication skills to deal with all kinds of customers, and have appropriate support etiquette across online and offline channels.
It’s also important to empower your support team with the best tools that enable them to deliver effective and cohesive support across channels. Consider:
- Agent scripting to guide agents through workflows and ensure efficient interactions across channels every time
- Machine learning tools and artificial intelligence to enhance support operations, improve response times, introduce automation, and increase agent productivity and efficiency
- The right call center software and ticketing service that centralizes customer conversations, data, and support
Contact centers: Transform your call center for digital channels
Call centers provide a phone-centric approach to customer support. In today’s digital world, consumers connect and interact with brands across diverse channels including phone calls, text messaging, video, and more. Traditional phone-based support centers can’t facilitate an omnichannel support strategy.
Upgrade to a contact center solution that provides all the functions of a traditional support center, as well as managing customer interactions across diverse digital channels. By integrating your contact center with your CRM, you can provide customers with omnichannel support that drives customer satisfaction and boosts your business.
It’s also worth noting that cloud-based communications solutions RingCentral enhance business continuity by keeping data, resources, and customer interactions safe, secure, and accessible even during disasters and other unexpected situations.
- Open APIs that make scaling up or down simple and integrations that quickly adapt to new technologies as they become available
- A simple interface that combines customer context and data on one easy-to-use platform
- Quality management and workforce management tools for tracking agent performance and CX, to train and improve representatives
- Cloud architecture to increase flexibility, streamline operations, and store customer data safely and securely
- Reporting and analytics to track performance across channels and teams, and improve customer satisfaction with personalized experiences
Taking an omnichannel approach to customer service enables businesses to meet their customers where they are. Being available to customers across a range of devices and channels enables support teams to deliver consistent support that’s tailored to an individual customer’s needs. When implemented successfully, an omnichannel strategy can enhance CX, boost brand loyalty, and drive sales with every interaction.