In the struggle to satisfy today’s increasingly-demanding customers, businesses are looking for every advantage they can find. Omnichannel customer support is more than the latest buzzword. It offers an area where your hard work and investment can give you a significant lead on the competition.According to Brendan Witcher, principal analyst of e-business and channel strategy at Forrester, very few companies have yet to master it. At best they do one or two things well. The problem isn’t the technology. It’s that companies don’t have the procedures in the place to take full advantage of it to offer the best experience.
In order to offer true omnichannel support, you need the whole package.
Multichannel vs. Omnichannel
Do not confuse the two. While they may appear similar on the surface, omnichannel requires a new way of thinking about customer support. Over the last 5 years or so, the importance of multichannel support has become clear.
Customers expect to be able to contact you through the channel of their choice: telephone, email, live chat, social media, click to call, SMS, or in person. Not only that, but you need excellent self-service options as well, including FAQ pages and even a community forum.
Omnichannel support seamlessly integrates the customer’s experience across all those channels.
Customers want a consistent and easy experience no matter how they choose to contact you. This means the same products and services at the same prices, and the same quality of customer service. (If they can talk to the same person, so much the better.)
Your customer service staff needs to be able to access customer records for all interactions on all of your support channels. Look for a ticketing system that creates customer profiles that keep track of the following information:
- Issues still awaiting resolution
- Past issues that have been resolved
- What happened during previous interactions
- Relevant personal data
The need for consistency applies to your knowledge base as well. Keep it updated, so your FAQ agrees with the information customers get from other channels.
1. In Sync With One Another
Integrated customer service starts off with integration within your company. In a way, you’re all part of the customer service department. Easy communication between staff members should be a high priority. Sales, IT, engineering, reception – everyone should have some training on how to deal with customers and enter information into your customer database.
Set up your CRM system so it’s easy to enter customer interactions, no matter what the location. (For instance, if you talk to a customer in the field – or happen to run into them while grocery shopping, for that matter.) It would be helpful to be able to enter the new information into the database right then and there.
In spite of the customers’ need for speed, they still expect the personal touch. The good news is that more customers are willing to share their personal information if it makes for a better experience.
Have a list of best practices in place to refer to as your company grows. Omnichannel service doesn’t happen by itself. It takes a concerted effort from everyone involved.
2. Know How Fast to Respond
According to Zendesk’s 2017 Multi-channel Customer Care Report, 61% of customers admit that they are more impatient with customer service than ever before. They expect faster service than they did in 2013, especially over email and social media – 79% said they expected an email response in 12 hours (up from 62%) and 72% said they expected a social media response in 2 hours (up from 52%).
A growing number also expect 24/7 customer service.
3. Use Customer Feedback to Improve
However helpful market research may be, there’s nothing more valuable than directly asking the customer their opinion. They’ve bought your products and interacted with your customer service at some point. Don’t be shy to ask them how they prefer to get in touch and what their perfect customer service experience would be. What do they expect from your brand?
You might not have the staffing or budget to offer seven different customer service channels. And that’s fine as long as you do offer your customers the channels they most need.
Once you’ve collected and implemented the first round of customer feedback, create a feedback loop. Keep up regular surveys to check in with customers. You can’t afford to rest on your laurels – excellent customer service is a process of constant improvement!
4. Empathize With Your Customers
If the baseline is continually shifting, how do you get your bearings? The answer is to get to know your customer from the inside out. Put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes businesses can become so focused on bells and whistles like big data analytics that they forget the simple and obvious.
For instance – have you ever walked through your customer’s journey with your company?
How do they hear about you, purchase your product or service, and go about trying to get help if something breaks down? This simple exercise can give you important insights into what it means to be your customer.**What does it mean to map the customer journey and how to do it**
It’s a good idea to do this with your competitors, too. You’ll get a good idea of their strengths and weaknesses. You might even find some inspirational customer service ideas.
Omnichannel support is here to stay. In the future more and more customers will expect it as a matter of course. It would be a good idea to be there to greet them.