Imagine you’re scrolling through Instagram and you notice your favorite activewear brand is advertising the same pair of shorts you ordered a week ago when—wait a minute—you realize you haven’t yet received shipping confirmation. So you send the brand a direct message on Instagram with your order number to see if the package is on its way. An hour later, you still haven’t heard back, so you make a phone call. As soon as you’re connected with a customer service agent, they’re able to find your order number from your Instagram message and send tracking information to your email address, which they have on file.
Your initial frustration dissolves. You’re grateful you got the information you needed and impressed at how efficient the customer support rep was. You didn’t even have to repeat your order number or give them your email address! This is an example of effective omnichannel customer service.
- What is omnichannel customer service?
- 3 benefits of omnichannel customer service
- Omnichannel vs. multichannel customer service
- Example of omnichannel customer service
- How to create an omnichannel customer service strategy
- Best practices for omnichannel customer service
- Omnichannel customer service FAQ
What is omnichannel customer service?
Omnichannel customer service is an approach to customer service that provides an integrated and seamless customer experienceacross multiple channels, including phone support, email, chat, social media, and retail stores. Omnichannel customer support should be consistent for the customer, regardless of which communication channels they use.
For example, a customer might initiate a conversation via live chat and then follow up with emails or phone calls. Regardless, the customer service representative is able to pick up the conversation knowing the relevant customer information, previous interactions, and context of the situation.
3 benefits of omnichannel customer service
Offering an omnichannel customer service experience is great for catering to a variety of customer preferences, and it comes with additional benefits for customer service agents and your business’s bottom line.
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Improved operational efficiency for support teams
- More revenue from loyal customers
1. Increased customer satisfaction
Customers expectpersonalized support and consistent experiences across communication channels. Businesses able to offer omnichannel customer service are more likely to have a strong brand reputation and happy customers. A study by Aberdeen Group found companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement retain 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for other companies.
2. Improved operational efficiency for support teams
Omnichannel support makes work easier for customer service reps. When they have access to customer information and know the context of past interactions, they’re better able to resolve support issues. This can increase agent productivity. The previously mentioned Aberdeen Group study also found businesses that use an omnichannel customer support strategy see an average 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per customer contact, compared with 0.2% for other businesses. The ability to better meet customer expectations can also increase customer service agents’ job satisfaction.
3. More revenue from loyal customers
A study by the Harvard Business Review found 73% of shoppers use multiple channels during their customer journey. The same study found businesses that provide customers a seamless omnichannel experience can earn a competitive advantage because customers that use multiple channels spend more than those that use only one. Omnichannel customers spent 4% more overall and 10% more online. Google also reported that these customers have a 30% higher lifetime value.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel customer service
Omnichannel and multichannel customer service both involve engaging with customers across multiple touchpoints. The difference is a multichannel approach doesn’t necessarily integrate the customer experience between channels. This means customer interactions that occur on one channel (like a phone call) may not easily transfer to other channels (such as email, social, or other digital channels).
- Omnichannel customer service. An omnichannel approach, as its prefix implies, is universal and customer-centric. Omnichannel customer supportenables customers to seamlessly move the conversation from one channel to the next without having to repeat information.
- Multichannel customer service. With multichannel customer service, each point of engagement is independent, and if a customer wants to switch channels, they have to begin their query from scratch.
Example of omnichannel customer service
Rothy’s is an eco-friendly footwear brand that uses Gladly, a Shopify-compatible customer service platform, to deliver omnichannel customer support to its shoppers. By organizing customer data and customer interactions in a centralized database, support agents are able to see a customer’s full history in a single conversation timeline, regardless of where previous interactions took place. Gladly’s omnichannel customer service approach has allowed Rothy’s to improve response and resolution times.
How to create an omnichannel customer service strategy
Providing great omnichannel customer service is all about effective communication across channels. Here are four steps to establishing an omnichannel customer service strategy:
- Centralize customer data
- Create seamless channel transitions
- Train employees
- Measure your success
1. Centralize customer data
Establish a centralized customer data system that integrates information from multiple channels. This allows customer service representatives to have a holistic view of customer interactions and customer preferences. The easiest way to do this is through customer service software. Shopify-compatible apps include Gladly, Zendesk, Kustomer, and more.
2. Create seamless channel transitions
Enable smooth transitions between channels, ensuring customers can switch from social media to email to a phone call without having to repeat information. This is where your system for centralized customer data comes in handy. You’ll need customer service agents to have a customer’s interaction history easily accessible to continue the conversation when it transitions from one platform to another.
3. Train employees
Training employees to work seamlessly across channels is key to delivering omnichannel customer service. Equip your customer service representatives with the skills and knowledge required to navigate different channels, understand customer preferences, and use the centralized data system effectively.
4. Measure your success
To determine whether your omnichannel customer service strategy is working, start by defining your goals. These could include improving customer satisfaction, reducing response times, or increasing customer retention.
Then choose accessible metrics that align with your objectives. For instance, if your goal is to boost customer satisfaction, use surveys to gather information about your customers’ experiences with your customer service reps. If you want to reduce response times, track how quickly issues are resolved and identify pain points. And if your goal is customer retention, track the average customer lifecycle to find out where you’re losing leads.
Best practices for omnichannel customer service
- Use customer service software
- Meet customers where they are
- Provide a consistent experience across channels
- Collect and implement customer feedback
Omnichannel customer service should be customer-centric. Use these best practices to make accessing support as simple and effective as possible for customers, no matter the channel or where they are in their customer journey.
1. Use customer service software
In order to provide omnichannel customer service (where customer service reps can access customer context and data from previous interactions across channels), your business needs a powerful centralized data system. Consider a Shopify-compatible omnichannel customer service provider, such as Gladly, Zendesk, or Kustomer.
2. Meet customers where they are
Let customer preferences guide your omnichannel customer service strategy. For instance, if you know your customers often shop on mobile devices, you can make it easier for them to reach customer support representatives by making phone numbers and emails clickable, and by providing mobile-friendly chat interfaces.
Likewise, if your business has a robust social media presence, and customers often reach out about customer service issues through platforms like Twitter, make sure to monitor these channels consistently. Finally, consider self-service options, such as FAQ pages, video tutorials, and chatbots that can provide customers immediate support at any time.
3. Provide a consistent experience across channels
Customers should have a consistent experience across all channels. Ensure that the tone, voice, and style of communication are aligned across channels to create a unified brand identity. Customers should receive the same great customer service regardless of how they choose to reach out.
Create customer service policies and apply them evenly. For instance, customer service reps shouldn’t be any more or less lenient about your business’s return policy over the phone versus email.
4. Collect and implement customer feedback
Regularly gather customer feedback to identify pain points, areas of improvement, and customer preferences. Leverage customer responses to refine and optimize your omnichannel customer service strategy. Use feedback mechanisms such as surveys, social media monitoring, and customer reviews to gauge customer satisfaction levels and make data-driven decisions to enhance the customer experience.
Omnichannel customer service FAQ
What is omnichannel customer service in simple terms?
Omnichannel is a customer-centric approach to sales that provides a seamless experience across different channels.
What are some challenges in omnichannel customer service?
Typically, the biggest challenge in omnichannel customer service is ensuring customer service agents have access to relevant customer data when offering support across multiple touchpoints. By using a customer service platform that syncs data from all channels, your customer service reps can access context from past interactions.
What channels and services form an omnichannel customer service strategy?
Your omnichannel customer service strategy should incorporate every communication channel open to customers. For most businesses, this includes phone support, email, chats, social media, and (if applicable) in-person customer interactions for customers shopping in-store.
Which channels do customers care about most?
By definition, an omnichannel support strategy does not assume that any one customer service channel is more important than the others. Some customers enjoy the direct and personal connection of a phone call, while others prefer the convenience of email. They should have a consistent experience regardless of their preferred channels.