I know you probably keep hearing the word omnichannel being thrown around in today’s business environment, but what exactly is it? In essence omnichannel is the ability to offer a single, unified experience across all channels including web, mobile, digital, phone, email and social media and it is all the rage when it comes to consumer marketing. But, the relationship with the customer doesn’t stop when they buy your product and you need to understand how the omnichannel thought process needs to envelop your customer service program as well.
First, how did we get here?
There has been a steady evolution that mirrors the technological evolution over the last 20 years or so, that has taken us from a single channel approach to customer service through the multi-channel approach to the omnichannel approach. What is the difference between these?
Under the “single channel” approach, the consumer had a single method to gain access to the company’s customer service process and this access point was generally the phone or in-store customer service. But, then came the Internet and as customers began to purchase over the web they also came to expect at least some level of customer service there as well.
Thus, the advent of the multi-channel approach; now, you could email the company as well as call use the phone or in-store service department. As technology advanced, and we saw the proliferation of mobile, social media and other digital channels such as online chat the customer began to demand some level of customer service for each of these channels. But, with things moving and evolving so quickly each of these solutions was generally developed in a silo.
What do I mean by silo?
Typically, the team responsible for the development of the new technology would build a customer service feature into their channel. The team responsible for the website developed a web contact form, while the group responsible for social media handled not just the proactive aspects of their social media accounts but by default took over the customer response and the mobile marketing team developed their own customer service function.
But, the customer doesn’t see it like this. They don’t care who developed the new technology; what they care about is that they want to be able to communicate with your company; they want to do this across the many channels you make available; and they want this experience to be both consistent and unified. And by unified, I mean that they expect to be able to move from channel to channel throughout the experience and not skip a beat. And they don’t care about your company’s silos; hence, the rise of the concept of omnichannel customer service.
If this doesn’t convince you of the need to implement an omnichannel customer service program then consider the following:
1. The importance of good customer service continues to grow; in a recent survey, Microsoft found that 98% of the U.S.
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consumers surveyed said that customer service is somewhat or very important in their choice of or loyalty to a brand. Additionally, 68% of the people said that they’ve stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service
2. Consumers have greatly broadened the methods through which they communicate with a company, including:
o Telephone (81%)
Business leaders insists on omnichannel customer experience because customers generally research a product on multiple channels like Google, mobile apps, social media, live chat, business websites, and offline stores. Most businesses generate leads when customers connect with them through these touchpoints.
When businesses incorporate an Omnichannel Strategy, they experience smooth Customer Engagement and Retention. This results in increased sales as customers purchase and spend more frequently creating an Omnichannel Customer Experience.