Before omnichannel, customers only had two choices when they wanted to contact your company: phone or fax. Today, on the other hand, customers can call, email, live chat, text, or get in touch through countless social media channels.
The problem is that it’s not enough for companies to simply be present on all these platforms—they need to be readily accessible and able to deliver a consistent, quality experience across all of them. According to Aberdeen Group, companies that do this retain 89% of their customers versus companies that don’t, who only retain 33%.
In other words, companies that have a solid omnichannel customer service strategy in place make more money.
In this article, we’ll go over:
- What omnichannel customer service is
- Omnichannel vs. multichannel customer service
- The benefits of omnichannel customer service
- Omnichannel service best practices
What is Omnichannel Customer Service?
Omnichannel customer service Is made up of all the interactions that happen across the different channels between a business and a customer (or prospective customer). Its goal is to provide a seamless, positive customer experience across all channels.
Customers expect a consistent experience regardless of which channel they’re contacting you through. They don’t want to feel the information gap that can happen in multichannel settings (not the same as omnichannel—we’ll get into that later).
That means, if a customer switches from social media to email to resolve the same issue, they expect the customer service rep to know exactly what was said in their previous interaction with the company. They don’t want to have to repeat themselves.
For example, JivoChat’s omnichannel messenger can help you put together an effective omnichannel strategy by giving you the tools to manage the customer journey across all of your different channels. You’ll know exactly who is contacting you, when they last contacted your company, what that conversation was, and it’ll make it easy for your reps to get them the help they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Image: JivoChat’s agent dashboard where conversations from multiple different channels flow into a centralized portal where chats can be transferred between agents, or linked to a CRM.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Customer Service
A lot of companies talk about omnichannel customer service, but in reality, what they really have going on is multichannel customer service. This means that they’re available everywhere their customers are, but unlike with omnichannel, they’re not providing the consistent experience that customers crave.
Think of omnichannel as a step further than multichannel. With omnichannel, not only are you present but you’re also actively providing a seamless, consistent experience throughout the customer journey.
Whatever conversation starts in one place can be continued in another place, and a record is kept of every interaction. For customers, this fortifies the feeling they’re talking to a brand and not individual reps, as it eliminates the need for them to repeat themselves.
Omnichannel gives customers the convenience of being able to communicate on the platform that is most convenient for them at any particular moment. At the same time, it gives your support reps context, empowering them to provide the best possible service.
Benefits of Omnichannel Customer Service
According to a survey conducted by Aspect Software, businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t.
Here are the benefits of omnichannel customer service, broken down:
Prevents agent collision and redundancy
Agent collision is a problem that’s often found in multichannel support strategies. One study showed that 61% of customers aren’t able to easily switch from one channel to another when interacting with customer service.
Agent collision happens when there’s no visibility into each other’s interactions with customers. So if Bob talks to a customer about their defective product today, then that same customer calls back the following day and Tom picks up the phone, Tom’s going to have no idea what they talked to Bob about already.
This means the customer ends up having to repeat themselves, which is very frustrating to 89% of customers, and understandably so. It’s a waste of time for both your customers and your service reps.
With omnichannel customer service, on the other hand, all your different channels are integrated and centralized so all reps can see all interactions customers have had with the business.
Provides customers with seamless channel transitions
According to Zendesk, 87% of customers think businesses need to put more effort into providing a seamless experience.
By having all your customer interactions show up in a centralized place, it won’t matter where or when a customer gets in touch with your brand—your reps should be able to see exactly what they talked about in the past and pick the conversation up where it left off. Seamlessly.
Improves customer satisfaction
Businesses that have a strong omnichannel strategy have 89% higher customer satisfaction rates than those that don’t. This is because omnichannel customer support is designed around making customers’ lives easier and getting rid of any friction points, making their experience with your brand as positive as possible.
We said it before and we’ll say it again: businesses with omnichannel customer service strategies make more money. An average 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, to be exact, compared to the 3.4% in businesses that don’t.
And it’s not hard to see why.
According to an analysis by Harvard Business Review on 46,000 customers of a major retailer, shoppers spent an average of 4% more on each in-store shopping occasion, 10% more online than those who only used one channel, and 13% more when they researched the product ahead of time.
More channels mean more ways to shop, and more ways to convert.
Improves customer retention
Customers are more likely to stick to a company when they know what to expect from it, aka. an easy and convenient experience.
And providing that experience definitely pays off. According to Aberdeen Group, businesses with the strongest omnichannel customer support strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. This is compared to 33% for companies with weak or lacking an omnichannel strategy.
Increases customer loyalty
Not only does an effective omnichannel strategy drastically improve customer retention, but it also increases loyalty. This loyalty results in a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact compared to 0.2% for companies who don’t use omnichannel, also increasing the lifetime value of your customers.
This is because customers who receive positive and helpful service from your company expect the same in their future interactions, which keeps them coming back for more.
10 Omnichannel Customer Service Best Practices
Now that we went over the benefits of omnichannel customer service, it’s time to get into how to implement it and the best practices to use.
1. Break down silos
If your teams are currently working in silos, that needs to stop ASAP. There are no silos in a well-built omnichannel strategy.
Your sales, marketing, customer service, and IT teams need to work together to deliver a singular customer experience. To do this, everyone should be focused on one goal and every department should be responsible for contributing their own expertise to support the other teams in achieving that unified goal.
Here are some pointers to get you started:
As a team, identify all of the different customer touchpoints.
Once you’ve compiled a list, jam on how you can reduce pain points. How can you bring all the different channels together to improve and speed up the buying process?
Decide what to implement accordingly, including what technology you’ll need to bring your ideas to life.
2. Identify your customer’s preferred channels
Take notes: according to Kayako, 41% of consumers prefer live chat support, 32% prefer phone support, 23% prefer email support, and 3% prefer getting support via social media.
Most customers prefer live chat because of the immediacy factor. In fact, live chat has a customer satisfaction rating of 85%. It’s a lot more convenient than, say, sending off an email and waiting for a reply or making a phone call and being stuck on hold.
Customers like to get their issues resolved as fast as possible. Keep that in mind no matter which channels your business is on.
3. Provide proactive customer service
With specialized live chat apps like JivoChat, you can set up triggered messages based on browsing behavior, content interaction, geographic location, and more to engage customers at the right time with personalized messages that are relevant to them.
It could be something like a simple hello, a prompt to start a free trial, an offer to help, or any other message that makes sense based on the product or service you’re offering and where the customer is in their buying journey.
One way to do this is through live chat triggers, which are smart rules that generate automatic messages on websites. For example, JivoChat provides a 15+ chat triggers that can be combined with others to personalize proactive chat messages:
This guide will walk you through a number of different proactive chat examples, including scripts and triggers.
4. Deliver real-time support
One of the most frustrating things for customers is having to wait a long time to receive support. If the wait time is long enough, it could even be the deal-breaker that makes customers ditch your brand for good.
In fact, immediate support is the #1 reason why most consumer age groups prefer live chat over other communication channels:
Ideally, your response time should be under 1 minute, as this is when 59% of customers are likely to make a purchase decision.
A perfect solution to this is live chat. Businesses that offer live chat see a 34% increase in customer satisfaction rates. This is because reps can speak to multiple customers at one time, and have the ability to share rich helpful content like links and articles for more complicated issues. Something they wouldn’t normally be able to do on the phone. Live chat is also more cost-effective than phone calls.
5. Enable customers to move between channels
We mentioned the importance of identifying the channels that your customers prefer, but you also need to keep in mind that these customers are going to move from one channel to another, and it’s your job to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.
For example, a customer might move from Facebook Messenger to live chat on your website. No matter which one of your reps takes the contact, they should be able to pick up exactly where the customer left off without letting the customer feel any friction.
JivoChat gives teams the tools to receive all chats, emails, and calls in a single app, eliminating the need to fumble between different windows and empowering reps to respond lightning fast. The result? Efficient communication, less distraction, and overall exceptional customer support.
6. Focus on the mobile experience
It’s 2021 and if your business still isn’t offering a mobile-friendly experience, you’re behind—and with 87% of customers using mobile devices to make purchases, they’ll notice too.
According to Business Inside Intelligence, US m-commerce sales are expected to reach 45% of the total ecommerce market by 2024:
Here are some pointers to help make sure that your omnichannel strategy is designed with mobile in mind.
All of your FAQs and support content should be mobile-friendly
Your customer service options like “Contact Us” (or live chat, phone number, etc.) should be easily findable on mobile browsers
Website links should be single-tap sensitive
Load time should be as quick as possible (according to an Akamai report, “a 100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7%”)
To summarize, it’s critical that all platforms in your omnichannel strategy are mobile-compatible, have fast load times, and information is easy to find.
7. Provide self-service support options
Contrary to what a lot of people may think, not all customers want to be calling or emailing to have a human walk them through an issue.
According to Zendesk, 50% of customers would actually love to resolve their issues all on their own.
Image: Canva knowledge base
Investment in self-support options like FAQs, help articles, how-to videos, and the findability of these resources is well worth the time and money as the return will be huge cost savings to your contact center.
Make sure your FAQs and other documentation are comprehensive, organized, and easy to understand so customers can quickly find the information they need.
Hire copywriters to produce high-quality content. Invest in user testing to make sure customers are using self-support resources as intended. Keep your content fresh and up-to-date, and improve/update them whenever you can.
8. Sync interactions with your CRM
All touchpoints across different channels (social media, live chat, email, etc.) should be integrated into a CRM record so that reps have a holistic view of the customer’s relationship with the company when they communicate with them.
For example, JivoChat sends all live chat conversations directly into your CRM, giving reps a real-time view into the conversations that are happening across all the different channels. This gives them much-needed context without having to make the customer repeat what they’ve already told a different rep on another day or channel.
Think of CRM as your central database where everything and anything that has to do with your customers can be found, including personal information, their past interactions with your company, the products they’ve purchased, and which of your products they’re eligible for. All this is available in one place, giving your reps a birds-eye view of your customers and eliminating the need to switch between different systems, ultimately reducing the amount of time needed to serve a contact.
Pro tip: Many CRMs offer free trials. Check a few out and see how they can work for you.
9. Train agents to upsell and cross-sell
Your customer service team is literally in contact with your customers every day, all day long. So if they’re not trained on how to upsell or cross-sell, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.
For example, let’s just say you sell computers, and one day a customer gets in touch with you saying they want to return the laptop they bought because it lags too much when they try using it for gaming. Rather than simply accept the return, a trained rep can inform the customer that you actually sell specific laptops with more powerful hardware designed for gaming. The customer might then take their refunded money and put it right back into your company, buying themself a product that better fits their needs.
For upselling and cross-selling to be successful, your reps need to know your products and services inside and out to be able to best advise your customers.
10. Monitor customer service metrics
Measuring your customer service metrics is key to determining just how your team is performing. You can use the information to monitor and analyze the relationships you’re actively building with your customers.
Not sure where to start? Here are three must-measure metrics your business should be keeping an eye on:
Net Promoter Score (NPS): This is how likely customers are to recommend your brand to their friends and family.
Retention rate: This shows whether customers are satisfied enough with your business to stick around.
Average handle time: this measures how long it take a customer service agent to respond to a customer.
Number of touchpoints to resolution: This is how many touchpoints a customer needs to go through to get an issue resolved. Ideally, it should be as few as possible.
Time to resolution: This measures the average amount of time between when a customer interaction is created and when that interaction is marked as resolved.
Measuring these KPIs are going to help boost your team’s performance and productivity by narrowing down exactly what your training needs to look like and which protocols need to be improved. Happy customers generate more money for your business. It’s a win-win.
Ready to Go Omnichannel?
To wrap up, creating a seamless customer experience can only be done with a strong omnichannel strategy in place. The return on investment will be more satisfied customers, operational efficiency, revenue, and brand loyalty.
Now that you know what goes into putting together an omnichannel customer service strategy, want to hear how JivoChat can help make it happen for your business? Get in touch with our sales team or start for free today.