No one likes the experience of reaching out to a faceless company; they’d rather feel like they’re reaching out to another human—or better yet, a friend. This is much easier in a brick-and-mortar store. Retailers can interact in real-time, observe what does (and does not) make it to into the shopping cart, and read and react to the consumer's visual cues.
For online shoppers, where support interactions happen over a variety of channels, the customer experience tends to be different.
People don’t think about their relationships in terms of channels, so you don’t want them to think about their relationship with your company that way either.
An omnichannel customer experience provides just that, a seamless conversation with your company where the consumer feels recognized by your support team no matter when or how the consumer reaches out for help. A great omnichannel experience is backed by a well-thought-out omnichannel strategy that reduces pain points and removes inconsistencies in your customer service. It also requires software that allows agents to move from one channel to the next, maintaining the thread of conversation and providing smooth support interactions. Opening up more channels of support and deciding how to staff them can be daunting, but businesses of any size can provide the kind of personalized omnichannel experience that customers now expect from a brand. In fact, offering an omnichannel customer journey can help to simplify your operations.
Here are five hurdles an omnichannel solution can help you to overcome and provide a great customer experience
1. The support experience is inconsistent across different channels
If your team is struggling to provide consistent customer experience across channels (chat, voice, social media, etc), it’s not a reason to get rid of the channels that lag. It’s easy to prioritize one channel over another because there’s higher volume, or you’ve supported one channel longer than another. Lack of analytics is also often a common culprit, making it hard to take stock of your channels to learn what’s working and what isn’t. With the ability to compare KPI and SLA metrics and service loads across all channels in real time, you can easily make changes. And if you’re unsure how your service levels compare by channel, take a look at your customer satisfaction rating. If it’s lower than your industry benchmark, it’s time to take another look at your channel mix and staffing.
2. Agents are switching between solutions
It's also important to think about the experience of the agent. Each time agents move between systems, whether to staff a different engagement channel in a different tool or to look up customer history and account information, the seconds tick by. There are times when it makes sense to use a battery of products, but increasingly, there’s little need. Providing a fluid and seamless customer support experience for customers can also mean providing a fluid and seamless backend agent experience.
A solution that’s flexible enough to integrate with your backend systems means less hassle and more satisfaction for your agents. By consolidating to one screen, first-response times go down and data never gets lost or siloed.
3. Context is lost between channels
You may be providing customer service through multiple channels, but you’re in the dark when it comes to previous interactions and context. Your agents don’t know when someone on the phone has already emailed or reached out on social media, or what they did via self-service queries. This adds time to each interaction and is probably creating a frustrating customer experience. Instead, by centralizing ticket history in an omnichannel solution, you retain the context of each conversation and can reduce handle time and customer effort, and provide a more personalized experience. This is especially valuable for businesses supporting mobile-first customers—offering in-app support makes easier to provide a consistent experience and allows you to automatically pull in device and historical data, which gives agents the context they need to start troubleshooting.
4. Reporting across channels is difficult
Don't forget about the support leader's experience. Providing customer service through multiple channels is great, but it gets complicated when you have one metrics system for chat, another for social media, and another for email. Not only is it a drain on time, but comparing reports across channels and attempting to achieve visibility parity can be a logistical nightmare. If this sounds or feels familiar, imagine having a single source of truth for customer contacts, no matter the channel. An omnichannel solution can provide channel metrics in real-time, allowing you to make changes and adjust staffing on the fly.
5. There’s no time to set up a new channel
Piloting or offering another channel of support doesn’t have to mean vetting and implementing a new tool. When each channel is integrated into a single solution, you’ll see rapid total time to value, and will have the flexibility to easily turn new channels on and off. See what works best for your customers and your support team, and shift channel offerings according to customer trends or preferences. Or, start with a single channel and add additional channels as you grow.
Sign of the times
Adopting an omnichannel solution allows your business the agility it needs to handle—and meet—changing customer expectations. With a single solution, you can make changes without disrupting workflows—or the customer experience. In the end, that’s what it’s all about. An omnichannel customer experience is an easy one, removing obstacles for the customer and for your team.