Selling to new customers is great, but winning over customers’ loyalty is even better. Whether you’re selling a product, service or software, you need to encourage customers to make repeat purchases.
To achieve this, you need to deliver customers a positive experience when they purchase a product and receive after-sales support. In this day and age where some customers prefer to connect over the phone and others by emails, you need to look into providing omnichannel customer support.
Here’s what you need to know about setting up an omnichannel strategy and how it can benefit your business.
What is omnichannel customer support?
Customer support as a service is no longer limited to phone calls. As the name suggests, omnichannel customer support refers to providing a seamless customer support service across different communication channels. Along with phone calls, this could include text messages, email, chat support and social media messaging.
Omnichannel support aims not only to answer customer queries but also to provide a seamless customer service experience. For example, a customer may raise a request through a web chatbot which can then be followed by a phone call or an email.
What's the difference between omnichannel and multichannel customer support?
At first glance, omnichannel and multichannel customer support may sound similar given that both strategies focus on connecting with customers across different channels.
There is nonetheless a critical difference between the two approaches.
Businesses providing multichannel customer service offer customer support through phone calls, text messages, emails, social media platforms, chat support, and so on. This type of support involves creating touchpoints and giving customers the choice of connecting through their preferred channel. However, communication within each channel remains independent.
Let’s say a customer raised a request through the web chat service. If the customer service team is unable to provide a resolution, the customer can call a number to speak to a customer service agent over the phone. However, the agent they call will not know the background to the issue, meaning the customer will need to explain their request from the beginning.
On the other hand, omnichannel customer support focuses on creating a genuinely cohesive experience, allowing customers to switch channels to ensure seamless communication. In other words, they do not need to repeat their request every time they switch to a new channel.
Why is omnichannel support important for your customers?
Today, customers have multiple options when it comes to their purchasing decisions: they can shop in a store and have their purchase delivered home; or they can shop online.
Just like using a variety of channels to make purchases, customers are looking for multiple support options too. Companies that have a strong omnichannel customer service strategy see higher customer satisfaction rates. They retain 89% of their customer base.
Here are some of the reasons why you need to invest in the development of an omnichannel customer service strategy:
Access data to understand customer needs
Opening up more channels for communication gives businesses more touchpoints to collect customer information. They can study customer behavior and get some inputs on what customers are looking for.
Take a simple example — a customer may call customer service about servicing their washing machine. They may eventually initiate a conversation through the website chat to find a new washing machine. With omnichannel customer support, the company knows the machine the customer owned previously and can get a better understanding of what they need.
Simplify how customer journeys are mapped
To give customers a good overall experience, brands must be able to map customer journeys. This becomes easier when they follow an omnichannel customer service strategy.
For example, before a customer calls the service team, they may have already browsed through the website and had their basic requests handled through the online chat service. This means they have moved beyond the brand awareness stage to the consideration phase. The customer service agent handling the call can access this information and address the customer accordingly.
Improve query resolution rates
Companies can solve customer issues and resolve requests much faster when they have an omnichannel customer service strategy in place. This is because they can extract data from different touchpoints and create a better customer profile.
For example, let’s say a customer wants to plan a holiday to Sydney. Tracking customer interactions with the travel agent website and chat service gives the customer service team an idea of what they are looking for, budgets, travel dates, etc. Thus, when the customer speaks to an agent on the phone, the agent can create a tailored itinerary.
Deliver customized service experiences
Leveraging the data collected through omnichannel customer service touchpoints allows businesses to provide customized service experiences. They understand customer expectations and can personalize their approach accordingly.
For example, let’s say a customer prefers to communicate more often through email rather than phone calls. The company can thus focus on messaging through emails rather than calling the person. Similarly, web page layouts can be customized according to data such as purchase history.
Imagine a scenario where a client was talking to a customer service agent over the phone and got disconnected. Unfortunately, the call is lost. However, the ability to continue the conversation through email keeps the customer engaged and increases the chance of conversion.
Increase customer service team productivity
Before calling a customer service agent, customers may try to get their requests resolved through web chat or other channels.
Omnichannel support helps customer service agents be more efficient during these calls by giving them a background to the customer journey. They can pull up information about customer-brand interactions through other touchpoints and understand the customer’s concerns without them having to repeat themselves. This helps then provide effective resolutions in a shorter time span.
Creating an effective omnichannel customer support strategy
Businesses across industries are taking an omnichannel customer service approach to support their service teams and improve customer experiences. Here are a few steps they have to follow.
Understand customer expectations
The first step to creating a customer service strategy is to understand customer behavior and anticipate customer expectations. Understanding customers’ expectations helps you to focus on priority channels and identify the type of support you need to provide. You must also be able to map the customer’s journey and the touchpoints they are likely to interact with.
Identify channels for communication
While an omnichannel customer support strategy should cover all communication channels, it is next to impossible to focus on all simultaneously. Hence, you must identify the channels your customers use the most. The most preferred channel for communication varies according to customer demographics, industries and other features. Older customers may prefer connecting through a phone call while your younger clientele may prefer instructions via email. Similarly, customers looking for a loan will probably call the bank while those wanting to book flight tickets may choose the website chat service.
Create self-service content
Having reliable self-service options is an important part of an omnichannel customer support strategy. Self-service support could take the form of manuals and tutorials, demonstration videos, FAQ pages, and so on.
Developing content for self-service support tools helps optimize resources and gives customers positive experiences. Everyone likes being able to solve a problem on their own! Chatbot scripts could also be considered a self-service option.
These chatbots can leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to provide support and collect customer data.
Integrate communication platforms with business software
For an omnichannel approach to work effectively, you need to be able to connect with different channels through a single omnichannel customer support software. This is one of the reasons why businesses are increasingly preferring VoIP systems over traditional PBX networks.
VoIP platforms can provide customer support through voice as well as messaging. When choosing a VoIP service provider, also ensure that the platform can be integrated with other business tools.
For example, CRM integrations help customer support agents access detailed customer profiles and automate profile updates after every interaction.
Let’s sum it all up
An omnichannel customer support strategy benefits businesses and their customers. It increases efficiency and boosts ROI. Simultaneously, it gives customers personalized experiences which in turn improves customer loyalty.
Implementing an omnichannel strategy to manage external communications is easy for businesses using a VoIP provider like Aircall. It unifies communications across channels and can be easily integrated with other business tools to maximize efficiency.
Aircall offers two monthly subscription plans to suit varying budgets. While they may offer different features, all Aircall plans include voice calls, SMS messaging and 100+ business tool apps and integrations.
Try Aircall for free for 7 days and see how our telephony software can optimize your customer service operations.
Published on January 2, 2024.