The What, Why, and How of Omnichannel Customer Service
We explain what it is, why you need it, and how you can get started.
July 17th, 2017
If you’ve read any of our blogs in the past, you’ll know the importance of delivering exceptional customer service across all platforms. But how exactly do you manage all the different support avenues that are available? Should you have a dedicated team for every possible area? Having different teams for different platforms carries a plethora of issues: higher costs, miscommunication between teams, double (or no) responses to customers, and more.
The answer? Omnichannel strategies solve all those problems by providing a “one team fits all” approach to customer service; you can give your customers the service they demand.
What is omnichannel customer service?
Omnichannel customer service sounds a lot more complex than it actually is. The prefix “omni” simply means of all things. Let’s say your business currently receives contacts from telephony, email, social media, review sites, and webchat. This would traditionally mean that you’d have a team for each of those platforms, with supervisors and managers dotted throughout to keep things running ship-shape.
Omnichannel customer service means that all your channels run from one platform. This means no tripping over each other when replying to a customer who messaged you on Facebook, then started a webchat 10 minutes later. If you can picture a giant funnel that gathers all your contacts and pushes them through one channel at the end, then you’re pretty much there.
Why do you need an omnichannel strategy?
The retail sector used to rely heavily on the old fashioned approach of face-to-face conversations between a staff member and a customer.
But as online sales reach a new record high every year, it’s more important than ever before to have a vast online customer service presence.
In fact, the average weekly online spend in May 2017 was £1.1bn - an increase of 14.4% compared to May 2016.￼
Customers demand the best service, and it’s no surprise that companies like Amazon are leading the way in customer service. We speak here from experience. A member of our team called Amazon at 6:30am and was asked to follow up later. They sent a tweet a few hours after and got a response without needing to explain the issue. At 4pm, they were on webchat thanking them for their service, and Amazon knew exactly what they were talking about.
With this omnichannel solution in place, it's no surprise that Amazon are the top company in the UK for customer service.
What exactly does this mean for you? Here’s our 3 key benefits of omnichannel customer service:
1. Meet customers where they are
As the importance of an online presence grows, so do the potential avenues that a customer can use to reach out to you. It’s no longer enough to have a phone number to call, or an email to send a message to. Figures collected by the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) showed that 53% of customers would prefer to use webchat before calling a business directly. The ability to continue a conversation when everyday life tries to get in the way is a massive factor in its increased popularity.
Research by Twitter also demonstrated that 80% of users had mentioned a brand during the 6-months of the study, showing an increase in customer service interactions of 250%.
By resolving a customer’s query in public, you’re also doing a great job of improving the reputation of your business. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools around, so make sure you’re always on hand to help a customer. Remember: if you have a presence on a site, make sure you're able to respond there.
2. Flexible customer service
Omnichannel customer service gives you the flexibility to move people between platforms to meet demand. Retail can often be unpredictable, and even the best business analysts don’t get the forecasting spot on. If one channel gets busy, you can just move people around to meet your requirements. Better yet, there are a few pieces of software out there that bring all interactions into one pot, giving seamless flexibility for the business since you don’t need to move people around different departments.
3. Cost reduction
Omnichannel solutions are not only a fantastic benefit to the customer. An omnichannel approach also means you'll be able to provide a route to create dramatic cost reductions to customer service departments. Since all your team will be in one place, you can have one interface that every team works on.
Not only does this save initial costs of training new staff on different teams, but it also saves long term costs - your operators will be equipped to deal with any interaction, regardless of its source.
If you’re looking to see exactly how much you could save, check out our cost reduction calculator here.
So, we know that an omnichannel solution can enable you to communicate with customers where they are, with increased flexibility on resource. But how exactly do you go about getting it off the ground? How big a minefield can it be?
How to get started
Getting started with omnichannel customer service isn’t all that difficult, and advancements in software means it’s now easier than ever.
We use software provider Gnatta to house all our platforms because it allows seamless connectivity between them. Think about a policeman directing cars when the traffic lights go out. The cars (the contacts) are directed down different roads (your returns team, sales team, and recruitment team, for example) so they reach the correct destination.
The beauty of omnichannel solutions really is in their ability to perform tasks at a fraction of the effort. It’s not only great for your bottom line, it’s a fantastic way for you to engage dynamically with your customers. By keeping yourself on the technology growth curve, you can always remain one step ahead of the competition.
We provide a full customer service solution by combining omnichannel software with our award-winning, UK-based team. With our solution in place, we can provide exceptional customer service using our unique cost per conversation model. Our pricing models mean that shrinkage is a thing of the past - you only pay for what you need. Want to know more?