What is Omnichannel Customer Service?
July 27, 2023 •Andrew Reiter
A few years ago, the term “omnichannel” seemed like a buzzword or a nice-to-have when it came to customer support. However, with the evolution of social channels and connectivity between digital communication, omnichannel customer service is now a necessity for brands that want to keep up in a competitive landscape. Here’s everything you need to know about what it means to provide omnichannel customer service and why it’s crucial to your brand’s success.
What is Omnichannel Customer Service?
Omnichannel customer service refers to customer assistance and communication that is carried through an integrated system of channels and touchpoints. A brand with a fully developed omnichannel system will have multiple channels (email, social media, live chat, phone, in-person) that are in sync and enable the support team to seamlessly start, resume, and complete queries, regardless of how many times a customer switches their form of communication.
Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Customer Service
Just because a company maintains an active presence across several platforms doesn’t automatically guarantee that they are providing an omnichannel experience… no matter how much they engage with their customers. There are two key factors that distinguish an omnichannel customer experience from a multi-channel customer experience. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Flexibility of platforms and devices: Are your customers restricted to communicating with you within certain platforms or channels? Here’s a common example: many brands pour time and energy into complex mobile apps that only perform within iOS or Android. An omnichannel experience should account for customers using all platforms and devices.
- Data synchronization: Do your channels operate in silos or are they synchronized with the same data? Omnichannel customer service is united, meaning that a customer can start an issue in one channel and expect to be able to continue it in another. Let’s say a healthcare member begins a query through live chat but decides they want to speak to a live agent. The live agent should be able to access the data gained from the chat and resume exactly where the customer left off.
Examples of Omnichannel Customer Service
Omnichannel customer service isn’t just restricted to resolving customer issues. It can be a powerful tool for engagement, retention, and expansion. Powerful omnichannel strategies could look like this:
- Harnessing retargeting data to get retail customers to revisit abandoned shopping carts or to finish registering for an event or signing up for a newsletter.
- Sending a ticket number or recap of a service call to a customer’s email so that they can stay updated throughout the process.
- Providing 24/7 customer service through different channels to ensure that you’re able to meet customers in different time zones.
Benefits of Omnichannel Customer Service
In a recent HubSpot study, research shows that customers expect to be able to communicate and carry an issue or transaction with a company across multiple channels… and expect that their experience will be seamless and cohesive. In a world where your customer experience is just as important as your product, providing an omnichannel customer experience shows direct returns on your audience’s satisfaction.
Better customer engagement and reach
Another benefit of omnichannel customer service is that it creates more opportunities to engage with your customers. Think of it like this: a successfully integrated network of channels and platforms acts as a single entity through which you communicate. With an omnichannel presence, you can increase your availability and access to your audience.
Deeper customer insights and data
One of the most crucial components of any customer service strategy is your ability to learn about and understand your customers. When your channels are connected, you can gather and sync customer data that allows you to understand exactly what your customers need. Data can help you direct customers to the appropriate department, identify pain points in the buyer’s journey, or even direct new product developments.
Challenges of Omnichannel Customer Service
While implementing an omnichannel customer experience can be a highly strategic and successful business decision, it can present several challenges, especially for businesses that have yet to establish digital systems. Since omnichannel experiences rely on integrated data and flexibility, brands will first need to ensure that they have a robust digital process in place. For some brands, that may involve a deep CX transformation to lay the framework.
Another common challenge to developing successful omnichannel customer service is creating an organizational structure that supports connected communication. For many brands, this involves getting product, sales, CX, and any other related teams on the same page.
How to Implement Omnichannel Customer Service
Building and implementing an omnichannel customer experience comes down to building a solid strategy and framework. At RUI, we know that the idea of building, integrating, supporting, and optimizing an entire network of platforms and channels can be overwhelming… even for the most equipped and established brands!
Here’s the best place to start: identify and connect your most important channels. Look to where your customers engage and reach out to you most often. If your customer service teams show that engagement is highest on Instagram, live chat, and through phone, that’s where you should begin!
It’s better to build a strong, cohesive system that only consists of a few channels, rather than spreading your efforts across many channels and failing to keep up. One of the greatest resources to building an effective framework is consulting a customer outsourcing partner to help you build strategy that works best for your organization.
We’re Here to Build Your Roadmap to Success
Our team of experts is here to give you the insights and support you need to build a customer experience that drives engagement, retention, and ROI. Contact us today to learn more!