What is omnichannel customer service, and how to leverage it?
10 minute read
Customers use multiple communication channels during their customer journey. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study indicated that more than 70% of retail customers tend to use multiple communication channels.
Picture this: A customer might browse through your products using the apps on their phone while travelling for work. And then the customer might go through your website to check details about your products. Then finally, they might make the purchase using the mobile app.
And if the customer has some issue with your product or wants to inquire about something, they might reach out to you via a chatbot or a live chat option on your website/app. And then they might also email you to describe their issue further or attach more details in the form of screenshots, pictures, etc.
This shows how a modern-day customer uses omnichannel customer service to buy your products or to reach out to you.
Before we dive into the details of what omnichannel customer service is, let us first understand what we mean by a channel.
What is a channel of communication?
A channel is a mode of communication or interaction between a customer and your business. Customers can use this channel not only for purchasing but also for various queries they might have or any service issues they may want to raise.
Mainly, such channels include:
- Phone Calls
- Integrated Voice Response
- Live chat
- Physical stores
- Social media platforms
- Self-service options like product and knowledge sharing videos
Recommended: Learn about the 11 types of customer service in detail.
What is omnichannel customer service?
If we had to define it in one line, this is what we'd say:
Omnichannel customer service means providing customer service support across multiple channels in an integrated manner.
When a customer contacts you over one channel, for instance, through email the first time, and reaches out to you the next day over the call or live chat, you pick up exactly where the email conversation ended.
There are no interruptions or information gaps. The customer doesn’t have to repeat their query again. The agent doesn't have to unnecessary questions. The aim is to provide a seamless experience across channels.
In short, omnichannel customer service has many advantages like:
✅ Improved quality of customer engagement
✅ Improved quality of service delivery
✅ Lesser burden on the customer service employees
✅ Extremely convenient for customers
It is also important to note that omnichannel support is different from multichannel support.
Difference between omnichannel and multichannel customer support
Both omnichannel and multichannel customer service and support use more than one platform to deliver customer services.
However, there is still a difference between the two.
Multichannel customer support just has multiple channels for customer support without integrating all of them together. This means that one channel functions in isolation from the other.
When a customer contacts a customer service team over an email, the conversation remains limited to only that channel.
Other channels do not have any context of the conversation unless the customer explains their problem all over again from the start. This can sometimes be inconvenient and time-consuming for customers.
Omnichannel customer service means offering customer service across channels and integrating all of them together at the same time.
When we say the integration of all channels, we mean that they are interconnected with each other. A conversation on one platform can be continued on another platform exactly from where it ended earlier.
Here are some points to note about omnichannel service:
- You can integrate cross-channel communication to give relevant customer care at every touchpoint.
- It improves productivity, adaptability, and resolution times. This lowers overall customer service expenses.
- It keeps everyone’s needs in mind and offers support across multiple platforms at the same time.
Customers are becoming more inclined towards this kind of customer service. They now want to contact businesses via multiple touch points at the same time.
Related read: 20 reasons why is customer service important to drive business results in 2023.
How to make use of omnichannel customer service?
The modern consumer has the option to create their own customer journey according to their preferences at all points. This means that customers can choose their preferred mode of communication at any stage as per their needs.
They can explain their issue in detail using an email. In the next step, they can contact the support team using their phone or a live chat if that is more convenient for them.
The basic idea here is that they choose the channel they want to use. They are not forced to use a certain channel by the company.
When a consumer is limited by a single channel of communication or has to start again every time they switch channels, it negatively affects their experience. This might also result in lesser conversions.
You can improve your conversion rates, customer retention, and customer satisfaction when you use omnichannel customer service. Here is the proof:
Customers who contact brands via three or more channels make purchases 250% more frequently than those who just use one channel. According to the Harvard Business Review, buyers who use multiple channels spent an additional 4% in physical stores and an additional 10% online.
Let us now look at how we can use this customer support for better delivery of services.
Map your customers’ journey
A customer journey ranges from getting to know about your brand, and buying your product, to post-purchase customer service and beyond that.
Now, what role does omnichannel customer service has to play in this?
We saw that omnichannel customer service has multiple touchpoints all of which are integrated together.
It is crucial to focus on delivering a seamless user experience across all touchpoints. On average, customers use six touchpoints.
And at least 50% of your customers use at least more than four channels regularly.
So when we map a customer’s journey across each touchpoint, we get an idea of our drawbacks. This will help us to improve service delivery and maximise customer satisfaction.
Such customer journey maps can be made in various ways, such as spreadsheets and dashboards. Research and data collection are the first steps in the process. Consumer surveys and feedback collection are some of the common ways to do this.
Customer assessments can be made using this data. These are the demographic and behavioural traits of your primary customers.
For instance, you can use this data to identify purchasing patterns of different types of customers like first-time buyers, devoted buyers, irregular ones, tech-savvy users, etc.
P.S To know about the various KPIs that you need to track for better customer journey mapping, read here.
Pay attention to the feedback you receive
In the previous point, we saw why mapping customer journey is good.
This brings us to our next point which is paying attention to the feedback you receive. To map customer journeys successfully, paying attention to customer feedback is vital.
One of the ways to do this is to conduct customer surveys at multiple touchpoints. For instance, there can be a short survey immediately after the customer has ordered a product from your website. This survey can have simple questions like, “How was the experience with the buying process? Was there any difficulty in navigating the website?” etc.
Next, there can be another survey immediately after the customer gets the product. This survey can have questions like, “How was the delivery experience? Were you satisfied with the purchase?” etc.
And there can be another survey around 3 to 6 months post the purchase is made. This survey will help you give a fair idea about how was the customer’s experience with the product.
These surveys can be carried out at multiple touchpoints. For instance, a preliminary survey can be made on the website itself. A survey right after a live chat can also be helpful. Similarly, an email once in a while with a post-purchase feedback option can also be one of the ways to collect feedback.
Having multiple surveys across channels also increases your chances to collect more feedback from customers. This helps you to keep track of the customer’s experience at every step.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that there shouldn’t be too many surveys either. That will overwhelm the customer and might deter them from giving feedback.
Offer self-service options when and where possible
With self-service, customers are guaranteed immediate assistance.
The back-and-forth between agents and clients is eliminated. And customer service representatives have more time to aid customers with more complicated customer service issues.
Side note: To increase your productivity and focus on other business-related goals, you can consider outsourcing IT support, to reap even more benefits.
Customers may access knowledge bases, training, and even user experience support forums via the channel that suits them best using omnichannel self-service.
These clients can hop between channels and resume reading support documents just where they left off.
With omnichannel customer support, you can integrate all of your self-service options which can act as a guide for your customers. This will also encourage customers to try to solve their problems on their own.
Expand your customer base
When you are restricting yourself only to certain traditional platforms and channels, you are losing out on potential customers who might use other channels.
For instance, having a social media presence can affect your business positively. 72% of millennials are more likely to select a brand that responds to client questions and reviews on social media platforms.
Due to its adaptability, speedy responses, and accessibility, social media is gradually replacing traditional avenues for communicating requests.
In order to give your customers more options to interact with you outside of the typical channels, it's crucial to provide an omnichannel customer experience.
Your team will thank you for having an omnichannel customer service strategy
By enabling agents to contact other team members if they run into problems without leaving the support ticket, omnichannel support helps agents collaborate better. Internal communication tools like Slack or Discord can be used for this.
As a result, communication and workflows are streamlined and agents have more data on hand to deliver excellent customer service.
Omnichannel support makes the day-to-day work of customer service agents easier. One of the key objectives of omnichannel support is to optimise interactions for better customer care across all channels.
Let's take the scenario where a consumer asks customer service for sizing details on a pair of pants.
With integrated customer service, the agents already have access to the customer's profile and purchase history to assist the buyer in determining the ideal fit. This makes the work of your agents much more efficient and easier. It also reduces efforts on part of the customers and saves their time.
Chatwoot's omnichannel inbox
With Chatwoot's free service, you can engage with your customers from different channels – on one dashboard.
Simply, select a channel and get going.
What Disney teaches us about omnichannel customer service experience
Disney is an expert in creating an omnichannel customer experience. But how did Disney become that expert? Let us have a look at their customer service model.
The pre-experience engagement, your arrival at the airport, check-in at your hotel, and your experience in the Parks are all taken care of from the moment you make your reservation.
The company's website and app are the two primary mediums of giving you a virtual experience before visiting Disney World. Both increase your excitement by letting you tour the parks and check out all the eateries, shows, and attractions virtually.
They also allow you to specify your itinerary, make wish lists, and do all the other things you typically desire from a significant experience.
Once you're inside the park, the app serves as your guide. It helps you with directions, meal reservations, character meet-and-greet, and wait times for the various rides.
But this sort of an experience can be replicated by any other brand if you put in efforts. So, what makes Disney World different from its competitors?
It is the magic wristband that Disney gives to all its visitors. This wristband becomes a one-stop solution for everything. It acts as a key to your room, and your ticket to all the rides. It can also be used as a payment method. The wristband has all of this integrated into its system. Moreover, it is waterproof which makes it much easier to use.
The wristband is linked to the Disney app as well which is a great way to map customer journeys and collect data. All of this is done by Disney to improve customer experience.
It's important to note that all of this optimisation enables them to host larger crowds because it allows them to control visitor flow better.
To read more about such customer experience stories, click here.
Examples of omnichannel customer service
Airbnb offers customer support across multiple channels and also integrates them together into a single platform. This makes it an omnichannel customer experience.
Their website includes articles for all of their target audiences. This includes the hosts who rent out their places on Airbnb as well as the guests who take these places for rent.
Their Help Center on the website has all such articles ranging from payment related issues to booking cancellations, rescheduling, and any other customer queries.
They also have email and phone support through which customers can reach out to them for any query that might not be solved by reading those articles.
Airbnb has truly understood the meaning of omnichannel support as it also provides the option of reaching out to the hosts personally and clearing out your queries.
They have social media customer support as well in the form of a Twitter account called "Airbnb Help."
This ensures that it caters to all the age groups.
Stripe acts as an intermediary for facilitating payments for retailers, subscription based businesses etc.
In terms of customer support, Stripe has a vast amount of self service resources where they have numerous articles and guides.
They also have a 24×7 customer support system. In case you can't find what you are looking for, you can reach out to the customer care directly as well through email.
They have a Discord channel which is the online community of developers. Anyone can ask for help anytime.
Stripe customer support is basically a multi-channel integration of all customer service channels thereby bringing everything in one place for customer benefit.
Rippling is an employee management software support. By using Rippling, a company can manage its HR operations, Payroll etc.
But how does Rippling provide an omnichannel customer service? Their website has various guides and articles related to products and their services.
They also have a Help Center which has articles on multiple issues like basic technical glitches, how to navigate the software, where to reach out for customer support etc.
The company website itself has a live chat option where customers can get instant replies to their questions. In fact, they also have a chatbot on their website for immediate queries.
All the social media platforms and email ID is integrated on their website itself which makes it easier for customers to engage in any channel of their preference.
A goodbye note…
Knowing about omnichannel service and implementing the same has a vast difference. But the fact that you have read so far shows your willingness to walk that extra mile for your customers’ comfort and your business’ long-term success.
See ya in the next one!
Enjoyed the article? Tell a friend!