In today’s digital transformation, along with consumer behavior changes, most consumers expect to be able to communicate with businesses through different digital channels. Harvard Business Review study shows that over 70% of retail consumers use more than one communication channel throughout their journey of buying products or services. This finding makes sense if a company offers several channels to meet consumers' expectations.
This is when omnichannel customer service plays its part in the industry. According to the Zendesk report, companies that provide omnichannel customer support have better performance in terms of customer experience metrics, such as faster response times that lead to higher customer satisfaction rates.
But what exactly is omnichannel customer service? Does it really matter to the business and customer?
Omnichannel customer service links customer interactions across different channels while keeping the brand's communication consistent. Companies with robust omnichannel customer experience keep their customers’ experience consistently wherever the interaction takes place.
Thanks to the growth of new communication technologies and several digital platforms, most businesses are able to adopt an omnichannel approach to improve their customer support system. Most companies use many communication channels, including telephone, email, SMS texting, live chat, chatbot, social media, and many more.
When talking about omnichannel customer service, it’s not just about providing communication options for consumers and brands to connect but also about automatization. Omnichannel customer support should be able to sync conversations, files, notes, and any detailed information about consumers seamlessly across every digital platform.
The use of omnichannel customer service also has been influenced by consumer's expectation changes along with technological advancements. Research by Forrester found that digital touch points will affect more than 57% of retail sales in the US by 2022.
Multichannel Customer Service
Omnichannel Customer Service
We have been talking about channels a lot, but are there any differences between omnichannel and multichannel customer support? Though many people assume that these two things are identical, there are many differences.
Omnichannel customer service is all about unification, integration, and synching communication across different channels. It lets consumers choose which platform they want to use to communicate with the brand. Its ability to integrate every channel also makes omnichannel customer service more effective because it is convenient to switch between channels anytime without losing any information.
Meanwhile, multichannel customer support is the process of interacting with consumers in different channels to help the company reach more customers. In multichannel customer support, the channels function differently and are not linked with each other. This means when a customer reaches the brand through one channel, they have to retell their story when they reach them again on a different channel of communication.
The differences between omnichannel and multichannel customer support also lie in their goals. While omnichannel customer service uses a customer-first approach and provides a seamless customer experience in every channel they use, multichannel customer support is more toward a company-first approach and provides as many ways for agents and customers to connect as possible.
You may have noticed a few omnichannel customer service benefits from the explanation above. But here is some more detailed information about what you can get if you are using omnichannel customer service successfully:
The old people said, “Time is money”. But that’s actually not just talking about money, it means that no one wants to wait to get something—especially when they are in an urgent situation.
A study has shown that 89% of consumers believe that speedy resolution and fast responses are the most crucial aspect when it comes to customer service and experience. The study also shows that over 60% of consumers expect to get an immediate response from the brand, regardless of the communication channel they use.
Offering multiple communication channels increases the chances of customer ability to reach the brand. However, when it comes to immediate responses, omnichannel customer service will play its part. Adopting omnichannel customer service helps employees to meet their consumers' expectations by storing up-to-date information no matter who the channel team members use to communicate with consumers.
What’s more, omnichannel customer service also prevents consumers from having to retell their problems to different representatives. This is what 75% of consumers say about the frustrating part of dealing with customer service.
But, it’s not just about speedy responses, the resolution that the company offered during the first call also increases drastically while they use omnichannel customer service. This is really important because studies show that higher first-call resolution rates decrease consumer churn by 67% and increase consumer satisfaction.
What could make consumers walk away from your business? One in three consumers say that it’s because the company doesn’t provide a personalized experience, while more than 40% of consumers say that they are frustrated by interactions that are not personalized.
Personalization in communication makes consumers feel prioritized, valued, and emotionally connected to the brand. It makes them think that they are dealing with an actual human, not AI. In an era where customers expect and demand personalized experiences, implementing personalization strategies can give businesses a competitive advantage and help them stay relevant in an ever-changing market.
Omnichannel customer service allows you to improve the quality of your relationships with consumers, and it may become long-lasting. Then it just makes sense if they keep returning to your brand or even recommending you to their relatives.
What’s more interesting is, in fact, almost 40% of consumers want to be able to connect with the same representative or agent they have previously contacted, regardless of the channel they currently use. Omnichannel customer service also helps the agent to access information from previous interactions, order history, account data, and more information that may help them resolve consumers’ problems quickly.
Here are some facts that you may want to know about customer retention:
Considering those facts, don’t you think customer retention rates are really important? One of the benefits of using omnichannel customer service is that you can increase customer retention by 91% if you have a good strategy. Meanwhile, a poor omnichannel customer service strategy will only retain about 33% of the existing consumers.
Omnichannel customer service has also been proven in increasing the number of consumer spending. A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that if a business offers more communication channels, the money consumers spend will increase.
The same study also showed that compared to the consumers who were given only a communication channel, consumers who were provided omnichannel services and shopping options had 4% higher spending.
In addition to these benefits, successful omnichannel customer service empowers consumers by allowing them to engage with a company both online and offline through personalized, consistent support. This leads to increased consumer loyalty and helps to build trust and reinforce the values that a company represents. On the other hand, you are strengthening brand visibility by making sure that your consumers receive a consistent brand experience across different channels, platforms, and devices.
The usage of omnichannel customer service may be clear by now. It offers enormous benefits for businesses as well as employees. But when does a company need to start an omnichannel customer service strategy?
Starting conversations with consumers in social media or messaging applications is excellent because they are so accessible since everyone uses that app. However, sometimes brands also need to do private talk. Maybe they want to talk about the address, authentication number, or any other personal matter. For this reason, omnichannel customer service is needed.
Imagine a customer visiting your business website and sending you a question via custom web messenger. You may get the notification, but the agent in charge to reply to the message is not there. Or, in other cases, maybe it’s the customer who has to leave before the issue is resolved.
Hanging around your website to wait for a reply is a bit inconvenient. Customers would probably prefer to receive notifications via other channels, like email or SMS, when someone replies to their message.
It’s important to be present wherever your customers need you—or at least be there when they need your response. But it doesn’t mean that every digital channel has the same function. Some platforms may give a better user experience, or some customers just get used to one type of channel.
For example, chat apps are considered to have a better user experience than SMS and are free to use. Some people may prefer to use email over a phone call, and others may choose to use the messaging app for the sake of security.
Twitter, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger are great channels to use to offer consumer experience, but these apps are owned by other companies. Many companies don’t want these big tech companies to know what they are discussing with customers. Fortunately, you can differentiate the use of engaging with consumers and doing business.
The rise of online shopping and customers' desire to connect with businesses highlights the benefits of omnichannel customer service even more clearly in 2022. Many employees still work remotely as well. Therefore, omnichannel customer service has become more valuable not just to provide better customer service but also for workflow efficiency.
If all these explanations are not convincing enough, you can take a look at these some omnichannel customer service use cases.
Disney strives to provide a seamless and user-friendly browsing experience for its customers, accessible from both mobile and desktop devices. The company has taken this a step further by integrating digital technology through My Disney Experience, a tool that seamlessly integrates with wearable technology for an omnichannel experience.
My Disney Experience is an app to seamlessly connect visitors' activity within Disney theme parks. From buying a ticket to the photos you took inside the park, it can be synced with different channels and allow you to instantly access them wherever and whenever you want. Plus, this app also can manage visitors’ hotel and dining activities and even plan park activities.
To create this genius app, Disney uses beacon technology to help them collect sets of valuable data, such as waiting time and crowd traffic inside the theme park. Disney also connects its app with a Magic Band, a bracelet that visitors wear when they navigate in the park that can also store credits through the app.
The Magic Band works interestingly. It functions like a smartwatch where you can pay for souvenirs or meals, open your hotel room, or use it as a fast pass, so you don’t have to wait in line.
Nearly 40% of Starbucks' revenue comes from its mobile app, My Starbucks Reward. The app's popular order-ahead feature alone drives over 8 million mobile transactions per month. However, its convenience is not the only reason why consumers use the app. In fact, consumers also engage regularly with the brand.
My Starbucks Reward streamlines customers’ journey; order, payment, and tips in one app. In addition to that, they also provide customers with a great reward scheme. Consumers can view and load their rewards card not only via the app but also via mobile phone, website, or even in-store. The update will be shown immediately across all channels of whatever channel they use to update their rewards.
That is not the only way Starbucks takes advantage of the omnichannel customer service platform. They also use this platform to convert new consumers and increase their consumer loyalty. Starbucks often offers special promotions on specific days, giving flash sales, using an email campaign to inform promotions and in-app personalization. These tactics can increase customer satisfaction, online brand engagement, and in-store deals.
More importantly, Starbucks tracks its customers' activities, analyzes them, and uses the data to help them pinpoint areas that need more attention or improvement.
Another excellent example of omnichannel customer service is the connection between offline store consumer service and near-field communication technology. Near-field communication technology is something like Apple Pay, which allows the customer to transfer information only by tapping their mobile devices against a particular chip.
Timberland also maximizes its customer support by providing tablets for consumers in its offline store. On the tablets, consumers can see the display product information and current offers or promotions. This way, Timberland empowers consumers to have more control over their shopping experience and minimize wasted time waiting for the staff to give them information, especially when the store is crowded.
The omnichannel customer service implementation to enhance customer experience isn’t ending here. Timberland has digitally connected stores, allowing customers to create a wishlist without signing in or signing up. Once customers finish adding items to their wishlist, they can send the list to their email address and place it in the online store.
By doing this, Timberland not only improves customer service but also gains valuable customer insights. Like any other business, Timberland uses this data to come up with new marketing strategies or improve some area that needs improvement.
Sephora uses omnichannel customer service to enhance their customer service by connecting customers’ online purchases to their in-store visits. They introduced a “Beauty Bag”, an account that allows customers to browse product information and try it using virtual reality technology before they make a purchase.
Using location-based marketing strategies, Sephora also integrates online account information with in-store communication channels. So, when customers are shopping in offline stores, the app is able to help them narrow down their choices as well as keep track of their desired product.
During the pandemic, when all offline stores were forced to close, and no one was able to shop in a physical store, Sephora moved all the in-store experiences to their website and apps by introducing augmented reality fitting rooms and Color IQ that can scan customers’ skin color to match it with the right product.
Everyone knows that Apple builds an ecosystem that enables their devices to integrate and connect with each other. Each device, such as iPhone, Apple Watch, iMac, Macbook, etc., is seamlessly connected to each other using the user’s iCloud account. This means that every message, photo, note, or any other data stored on one device will automatically appear on other devices. In fact, this is one of the reasons why people keep buying Apple’s products.
This sporting goods retailer has won an award for its interesting and innovative omnichannel strategy. Before applying their strategy, they first understand who their target consumers are and come up with the most effective ways to communicate with them.
Orvis’ consumers are mostly people who are aged 50 and older. People in this age range have not fully adopted modern technology. Interestingly, the company sees that its consumers have a genuine interest in using modern devices. So, Orvis provided the employees with a tablet that included CRM and e-commerce tools.
What these tools can do is order out-of-stock products to the store and charge consumers for purchases that happen both online and in-store. If customers need assistance, they can find a sales representative and use their tablet to learn more about the product.
This strategy not only improves customer experience when they buy their products, but Orvis’ marketing teams are also able to conduct more information from consumers. The CRM tools they installed on the tablets record customers' information so that they can recognize some loyal customers when they come to the store.
As one of the biggest banks in America, Bank of America really takes its omnichannel customer service strategy very seriously. Their desktop and mobile apps enable clients to do pieces of stuff in one place, from paying monthly bills to appointment scheduling. Sure enough, this app doesn’t do everything. Complex tasks, like applying for loans, can’t be done from their devices.
After knowing all the big brands take advantage of omnichannel customer service, you may wonder how to build an excellent omni channel service strategy. Here are some best practices in omnichannel customer service:
Mobile is a huge deal. More than 90% of the global internet population uses a mobile device to go online. So, it wouldn’t be weird if they expected good mobile services.
In contrast, 90% of customers say they don’t get any good customer service experience on mobile. It shows that businesses aren’t keeping up with customers’ expectations. The same study also found that 52% of the customers say that a bad mobile experience makes them less interested in doing business with the brand.
“Incorrect display/difficult to navigate” is one of the top complaints of customers when they search for customer service on a mobile site, while the other 75% of customers agreed that “search research is unhelpful”, 40% of them complained about “slow load time”, and 20% say “site not searchable”.
Customers indeed expect good mobile service from brands, but they also want speedy responses. Social media can be a great tool to provide excellent customer service, resulting in higher customer satisfaction rates. Unfortunately, when it comes to customer service through social media, many companies still have no idea and fail to understand what the customers expect them to do.
Regarding the response time expectation, 32% of consumers expect an answer within 30 minutes, and 57% want the same response even when they message the brand on nights or weekends. Sadly, only 8% of businesses send responses within the 30 minutes time frame. Even 12% of companies don’t give any answer to the customer at all.
Interestingly, according to a survey conducted by Conversocial, customers see slow response times more negatively than when they don’t receive any reply. If brands don’t utilize social media communication and fail to respond quickly, it just makes sense if they see an increase in churn rates up to 15% due to a lack of customer satisfaction.
In conclusion, increasing the speed rate of responding to customers' messages doesn’t only reduce churn but also improves positive experiences for the customer. A happy customer won’t hesitate to pay more as an airline has experienced.
While other customers may need help directly from the brand, many customers also prefer self-service to solve their problems. This sounds unusual, but 50% of customers find it necessary to solve their own issues, and 70% of customers want the company to include self-service solutions on their website.
One of the self-service solutions that most companies use on their website is to include a Frequently Asked Questions page. For customers, it’s really convenient since they don’t have to contact a customer service representative, and for the representatives, this reduces their time to solve customer issues.
For many industries, texting is one of the most popular customer services. It can be used to make appointments, send reminders, or even respond to insurance claims. Long before chatting apps became popular and widely used, SMS was really common to do these activities.
Surprisingly, many industries still find SMS extremely useful. For example, banks. They have found that text messaging with SMS is a perfect way to send alerts to customers about possible account fraud. SMS is still widely used for the same purpose by apps like Facebook when they want to send login codes.
Most importantly, 99% of all text messages are read, according to research by Single Point. So, if you want to reach customers, using SMS is really effective since 90% of all text messages are ready within three minutes.
A report shows that 63% of website visitors are more likely to revisit the website if they offer live chat. Live chat is one of the conversational commerce platforms that is widely used by any business industry. Moreover, 44% of customers say that it’s essential for websites to be able to give their customers answers to their questions during the purchase process.
Besides being used as a customer service solution, live chat also improves sales. Imagine when a potential customer visits your website and finds their desired product or service, but they have some issues related to the payment process. They want more information to solve the problem, but they find no live chat on the website. In the end, they may not finish their purchase
On the other hand, with live chat, the customer support agent can walk them through the issue and lead them to complete their purchase.
While SMS is still extremely popular across industries, and live chat has a vital role in customer service, email is still the leader in customer service. Why? Data shows that email is still the most effective digital marketing strategy used by companies and is able to achieve 56% customer retention effectiveness. On the other hand, retention effectiveness with social media marketing is only 37% and only 8% from mobile advertising.
In addition, email gives the opportunity for businesses to offer branded messages. Email also gains customers' trust as a secure platform. Consumers prefer communicating via email about customer service issues by 38%. However, businesses also should be aware that customers still expect a fast response.
After all these best practices of using omnichannel customer service, and you still fail to perform it, just test it out. Sometimes, the omnichannel customer service software you use will let you know which areas need improvement and which are doing well.
Until this point, you may have noticed that omnichannel customer service plays a crucial role in business. With the changing consumer behaviors, adaptation to digital technology, and high consumer expectations, most brands are working their best to provide the best customer experience. However, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Omnichannel customer service still faces some challenges. Here are some of the challenges and how to overcome them.
To experience seamless interaction with brands through different channels, omnichannel customer service must be available across different platforms and devices. Each channel needs to be linked with the other. Only then, customers get the best journey experience from start to finish without any particular interruptions.
However, the integration between different channels and the ability to compile every against-consumer interaction in one place is one of the biggest challenges for companies building an omnichannel customer service strategy.
Most brands start their customer service strategy by using point-to-point integrations. Unlike omnichannel, which connects all different channels; it’s more like the integration between two channels, like connecting an app with a customer service solution or integrating a chatbot on the website with a product recommendation engine. The problem with this type of integration is that it is more time-consuming and needs to be repeatedly integrated every time a new channel is added.
So, how to solve this problem?
Brands can adopt an API-first approach, whether the scope of an omnichannel strategy is big or small. API will open communication and integration across different customer touchpoints and channels. This also allows information and data to quickly get to where they should be.
Some of the advantages for businesses and customers that they will get is a well-integrated channel across consumers’ journeys, meaning they can conveniently shop from start to finish without having to repeat their activities on different platforms. The item they placed on a website will also appear in their shopping cart in the app. The messages they send on Facebook Messenger will also appear in their app.
Another advantage is every new channel added to the technology only requires a simple API integration. By adopting an API-first approach, your brand’s omnichannel strategy is readily customized with other innovations in the future.
The second challenge of omnichannel customer strategy is to keep a personal experience across channels. These days, customers demand a more personalized experience. This will grow their loyalty to your brands because personalized experiences make them feel more connected to your brand.
What you can do is collect different sets of data that show your customers’ attitude and behavior. It may be chat transcriptions, purchase history, product preferences, or browsing history. Then, analyze and use those data to personalize your strategy accordingly.
The last challenge while creating an omnichannel customer strategy is data management across channels. Integrating different digital media into one platform that is able to improve customer experience means bringing more data associated with them. More often, the data formats are so diverse and have been stored in silos and never had to work with each other.
You can solve this problem by data lakes. An integrated customer journey requires a massive amount of data that needs to be managed. Data lake's solution is best for storing many data like customers’ behavior when they access one channel. Storing this data means that the same behavior will reflect when they login into the other channel. Implementing a data lake also enables you to access and experiment with a chunk of data to enhance customer experience.
In addition, many brands also struggle to train their employees who are already used to directly facing customers to implement omnichannel strategies. It’s clear that omnichannel customer service is beneficial; however, some businesses lose sight of customer-centric employees' value in the customer journey.
Omnichannel customer service strategy also allows for more customer self-service. So, there is an opportunity for sales representatives and employees to provide better customer experiences for those consumers. Training those employees and sales representatives to adopt omnichannel strategies is essential to omnichannel customer service.
In conclusion, omnichannel customer service is the practice of integrating and syncing customer interactions across multiple channels while keeping the brand's communication consistent. It differs from multichannel customer service by its emphasis on unification and syncing communication channels to provide a seamless customer experience.
Omnichannel customer service is becoming increasingly important in today's digital age, where customers expect seamless, user-friendly experiences across all channels. This ultimately leads to increased sales and profits, making omnichannel customer service a smart investment for any e-commerce business. Examples of companies that utilize omnichannel customer service include Disney, Starbucks, Timberland, Sephora, and Apple.
If you’re considering an omnichannel customer service, Donut.cx can also be your choice. Whether your company is a small business or established enterprise, our experts can help your D2C brands to sell and support on multiple chat channels from a single platform effortlessly. With Donut.cx you can sell on chat effortlessly, serve customers contextually, streamline operations efficiently, and centralize all your channels in one inbox.
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Provide customer service proactively and deliver real-time support. You can also provide self-service customer support for those who want to solve their own problems.
The best example of omnichannel customer service is done by Starbucks that allows customers to order, pay, track, and collect rewards through app and in-store interactions.
The omnichannel customer service aims to streamline multiple channels and provide seamless customer experience within a single system.
Using omnichannel allows you to keep track of consumer interactions as well as simplify their process when interacting with you. That way, you won’t miss any detail or information about the consumers and they won’t spend too much time repeating their explanation about their problems.
They want to save more time, brand availability across different channels, and a seamless customer experience.
By using the right omnichannel customer service tools like Donut.cx, a company can create a seamless experience for their customers as well as centralize all channels in one place.
Enhance customer loyalty with Donut.cx