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March 19, 2019 Customer Experience

Want to Provide Better Customer Experiences? Let’s Talk Omnichannel.

Ali Lipman wearing a black blouse with small white polka dots and white collar.
By Ali Lipman

Omnichannel. It sounds like a word you saw on a vocabulary test in middle school, but it’s just a fancy word for a simple concept: that customer experiences should be efficient and consistent across all technology and communication channels.

Many professionals think that omnichannel strategies only apply to customer support, but almost every team within an organization can (and should) take an omnichannel approach to interacting with customers. This will ensure that customers have efficient and consistent experiences with everyone – including marketers, salespeople, and even bill collectors.

It Might Be Time to Go Omni – Here Are the Signs.

You have limited bandwidth and an overworked team.

Is your customer support ticket volume increasing? Are your marketers feeling stressed out or unable to engage with leads in a timely manner? Are your salespeople botching hand-offs of leads from other teams due to lack of context or information? No matter the circumstances, if your team is inundated with requests, inquiries, and to-dos they can’t deliver on, then it’s time to reevaluate how you’re approaching your organization’s customer experience. Chances are, your customers are just as frustrated as you are – perhaps even more so.

If team members are constantly switching between communication channels and software interfaces, they are unable to communicate and collaborate in real-time. This can negatively impact your business in a serious way, including low customer satisfaction scores, low employee satisfaction, poor efficiency, and missed sales opportunities. There’s nothing more stressful than a huge backlog of to-dos and no resources to complete them – omnichannel solutions can help you tackle workloads and get things done.

Support and service delivery is inconsistent. Customer hand-offs between internal teams are messy and kill morale.

A telltale sign that you need to adopt an omnichannel strategy is that your teams are delivering inconsistent support. Are your customers frustrated with repeating the same dialogue every time they’re transferred to different team members? Do you get terse emails or bad reviews from customers who contacted your organization and received no response – and yet, you had no idea they contacted you in the first place? Often times, customers are confused about which channels are best for getting your attention. This can fuel hesitation to reach out.

Context can get lost when team members are forced to toggle between channels. When context falls through the cracks and service becomes inconsistent, you’re going to have some very unpleasant interactions with customers. This might also lead to high resolution times and slow first responses – which will lead to unhappy customers. And unhappy customers will lead to unhappy team members who are tired of feeling unsupported and incompetent.

Data and metrics are difficult to track.

If your teams are struggling to dig up data and reported metrics across disparate channels, omnichannel technologies can help. If organizations want to align their customer experience goals with their performance goals, they need insight on customer data. But when reporting is unmanageable, the resulting lack of visibility can be an operational and administrative nightmare. For example, if you don’t know how many support inquiries your customer support team receives because you only track inquiries that come in through certain channels, then delegating team members or prioritizing inquiries is nearly impossible.

It’s difficult to improve processes if you don’t have necessary information about areas of improvement. An omnichannel platform will provide you with a centralized system to correlate relevant records on customer, company, and behavioral data.

Do You Have the Right Tech Stack?

The first step to achieving an omnichannel customer experience is integrating all your communication and service delivery channels into one platform. This platform may be a different kind of software depending on the team in question. (For example, customer support teams would need help desk software like Zendesk, whereas sales teams would need customer relationship software like SugarCRM). But regardless of the kind of software, omnichannel platforms must be able to:

  1. Centralize all necessary context and information on customers
  2. Aggregate all conversations and transcripts of interactions with customers

This allows any member of your team to quickly reference who the customer is, what conversations they’ve had (and with who), and what their existing relationship is to your organization – and all at the drop of a hat. According to a study by Dimensional Research, 41% of millennials want more options for contacting customer service personnel, and 67% prefer to use live chat, social media, or text messaging to do so. So, no matter how a conversation or interaction with a customer starts – through a Tweet, an email, or even a phone call – omnichannel technologies make it easy for you to engage with people through whichever channel is most comfortable to them.

But an omnichannel platform should be more than just a central hub for information and outreach. It should offer tools for self-empowerment – both for customers and team members.

For customers, self-empowerment translates to self-service.

You need to be able to deliver the right information to the right place at the right time, so that customers can solve small problems on their own. This means offering self-service tools, such as a knowledge base (full of tutorials, FAQs, and information resources) or a homepage chatbot. This way simple tasks – like resetting a password or signing up for a webinar – won’t force customers into unwanted interactions with your team.

For team members, self-empowerment translates to accessibility of tools and resources.

To deliver better customer experiences when self-service is no longer an option, you need to be able to fulfill your role as your customer’s personal advocate and information connector. This means going above and beyond, providing customers with informative discussions, relevant content, or connections with experts or representatives who can further help them. But providing these resources requires updated information, annotated content libraries, and an organized list of contacts.

So, after all of this, maybe you understand the value of the omnichannel strategy. But successfully implementing omnichannel technologies is something else entirely. If you’re unsure how to begin, contact us and we can start you on the path to providing better customer experiences.


 

 

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Ali Lipman

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