We’ve all been there: you have a quick question for a company whose service you’re using. It’s not urgent, but you can’t find the answer anywhere on the website. You call customer service and there’s a “longer than usual” wait time. Before you know it, an hour of your day is spent trying to get answers about a problem you could have solved on your own with better information.
Or what about when the issue is more serious? Maybe you need technical support before your big presentation in an hour. When you try to contact customer service, your only option is a chatbot who gives you a vague auto-response and tells you someone will get back to you soon. When you finally do get a call back, you have to repeat your problem all over again.
These kinds of scenarios leave customers feeling frustrated and companies at risk of losing their business. In a world of endless customer service options, it is essential that companies get strategic about how they provide support. It needs to be offered through the channels that best serve their unique audiences.
The answer? Omnichannel customer service.
Omnichannel customer support differs from traditional multichannel customer support in that it doesn’t just offer multiple customer support channels, it integrates them into a seamless, personalized experience.
Omnichannel customer support systems empower both customer support agents and customers themselves, improving the overall customer experience and increasing productivity.
Omnichannel customer support drives retention and referrals, two of the most efficient ways to keep your sales funnel healthy and increase sales.
Between 2010 and 2020, the number of companies offering omnichannel customer service increased by 300 percent. Today, it’s something that customers expect.
And the benefits don’t end with the improved customer experience. Omnichannel customer support creates more empowered support teams and smarter businesses that can use insights to increase customer satisfaction, build retention, and earn more business in the future.
Omnichannel support doesn’t just offer several support channels, it integrates those channels to create a customer experience that is seamless and personalized. Companies who successfully implement an omnichannel support system retain 89% of their customers.
This visual demonstrates the difference well. Multi-channel (left) offers several options in a siloed way, while omnichannel (right) integrates the channels into one experience.
Here are 5 of the most impactful benefits your company can expect from an omnichannel customer support strategy.
BETTER CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Let’s start with the most obvious advantage to implementing omnichannel customer support: a better experience for your customer base. There are a few reasons having options matters to customers.
First, they can choose a support option that aligns with the urgency of their question or issue. Thanks to the internet, companies no longer need to rely solely on over-the-phone support. Email, SMS, live chat, chatbot, and knowledge bases are all commonly offered customer support channels and most companies offer several options.
When they do, customers can decide which channel is the best option depending on their level of need. Learning how to navigate a new program? A how-to knowledge base with suggestions probably does the trick. Need to make a payment? Easily done through SMS or chat. Feeling uncertain about your service as a whole and whether to continue using it? This probably warrants an email or phone call.
Best of all, with omnichannel support in place, your support team can seamlessly guide customers to the right resource when they choose the incorrect channel or need additional support beyond what one channel can provide. Omnichannel support means a personalized experience with multiple touchpoints that make sense.
Some examples: when a customer has a phone call conversation with an agent, you can follow up by text with them later so they can rate their experience. If your customer submits an inquiry via contact form that requires a more complex response, an agent can call them back already knowing where to start with the conversation.
Omnichannel customer support makes customers feel like their needs are being addressed proactively and with care, which brings us to our next benefit: empowered customer support teams.
EMPOWERED CUSTOMER SUPPORT TEAMS
Unhelpful or unknowledgeable support agents are one of the top causes of customer support dissatisfaction. It might sound easy to blame this one on support agents themselves. The truth is that even with the best training and work ethic, agents are often left without the tools and information they need to solve customer problems.
When customer support happens in silos vs. an omnichannel format, agents often have no history of individual customer inquiries or overall trends. As a result, agents must start from scratch with each customer. Customers are then required to repeat themselves to each new agent they interact with — not ideal and not productive.
Omnichannel customer support means your support teams have access to a customer’s entire history; the issues they’ve experienced, the support interactions they’ve already had, and the solutions they’ve tried. Now, agents can begin a conversation with context and provide a personalized experience. The customer feels valued rather than just another call in the queue.
With companies planning to add a wide range of channels to their support systems, it’s more critical than ever that they understand the benefits of implementing them in an integrated way.
Having the information they need to be successful relieves stress for your support agents. It gives them the ability to solve problems quickly and accurately, even if that means knowledgeably guiding a customer in the direction of another resource. When agents feel empowered, they’re more likely to provide your customers with a positive experience.
STREAMLINED CUSTOMER DATA
Omnichannel customer support tracks customer touchpoints and identifies trends that can help your company make decisions about staffing, strategy, training, and resource allocation. When you don’t have data-driven insights to help you make decisions, you’re left guessing about your customers’ most pressing needs and how you can best solve them.
Better data means more informed decision making — both about the ways you should provide customer support and how to improve, troubleshoot, or pivot your offerings based on the feedback you receive.
Tracking customer data metrics also means a better understanding of who your customers are and how you should target them at other points in the customer journey. When you track data points like location demographics, age range, or industry through your customer support channels you can refocus your targeted sales efforts as well.
Customers are better informed and more autonomous than ever. According to Zendesk, 69% prefer to solve their problems on their own when they can.
One of the best ways companies can empower customers to solve their own problems is through a knowledge base, or library of information about your products. Customer knowledge bases are the most preferred by customers over all other customer support channels — 82% of customers use them.
The best part? Knowledge bases are enhanced by customer participation, building community among your customer base and trust for your brand. When customers see that other customers have found satisfactory solutions to their problems, they’re more likely to trust that you’ll solve theirs, too.
RETENTION AND REFERRALS
It’s no secret that current customers are easier (and less expensive) to retain than new ones are to gain. Customer support is one the most essential parts of retaining customers for the long-term. In fact, for 86% of consumers, good customer service translates into long-term loyalty to a brand. What’s more, 89% of customers who have a positive experience are more likely to make another purchase from a brand.
And even better, 94% of customers who are very satisfied with a company’s customer service will recommend them to people in their network. This builds your referral network and strengthens the quality of leads in your sales funnel. Sounds like a win-win.