In an era that has long since ended, if one of your customers had a question or a problem with their service and needed to get into contact with someone, they essentially had one option through which to do it:
They picked up the phone and hoped for the best.
Then came email, which was followed (relatively) quickly through social media. People began to realize just how inefficient phone communication really was – for both parties. It’s still an option that people are willing to embrace, but today’s modern customers want the ability to connect with a brand through a huge variety of channels. In addition to the phone we now have instant messaging, online chat, text messaging, social networking and beyond.
But in addition to convenience, all of this variety has spawned another key trend. Customers don’t just want positive experiences with a company – they want PERSONALIZED experiences, too.
This, of course, is where omni-channel support becomes fundamental in fulfilling this desire.
When a true omni-channel support system is implemented, customers quickly come to expect an experience that enables them to seamlessly switch between these communication channels as needed. They can begin an interaction over email and continue it on the phone, before finalizing everything on social media and beyond. They want an environment where they can pick up where they left off on one channel and continue the same conversation on another… which means that you need to want that, too.
Luckily, omni-channel support is how you do it.
Multi-Channel Customer Support vs. Omni-Channel Customer Support: What You Need to Know
One of the most important things to understand about all of this, however, is that omni-channel support must not be confused with multi-channel customer service. They’re both opportunities that offer more than one channel for communicating, but that’s largely where the similarities end.
In a multi-channel customer support environment, the channels largely work alongside one another – but are still separate at the same time. This means that if someone were to call and speak to an agent in the morning, then decided to call back in the evening, they’d essentially be starting that conversation all over again.
Omni-channel support, on the other hand, is comprised of two key ideas – the nexus between multi-channel support and a customer experience focus. These communications channels are integrated in a way that allows a customer to have a seamless experience not only across multiple outlets, but multiple devices as well.
The major benefit of this is one of a new level of flexibility given to your customers. They can navigate between more than one channel whenever their heart desires, all without losing any quality of experience. They won’t have to start a new conversation every time they engage with your business – they can just continue the same conversation they were already having.
Why Omni-Channel Support is Crucial to Your Success
Maybe the most important reason why omni-channel support is important is because it takes your existing processes and makes them far more effective and efficient than ever before.
With a true omni-channel strategy, the best available agent is ALWAYS ready to answer a customer’s question. A customer will get routed to an agent automatically who can support their question. They don’t have to worry about explaining everything in great detail to Agent A, only to find out that “actually, Agent Z is better suited for this, let me direct your call…”
Customers get the best overall customer experience because they’re always guaranteed the right channel and the right agent at exactly the right time.
This also comes with the added benefit of reducing multitasking by collecting huge volumes of data about customer history. Instead of keeping someone on hold while you “look up their records,” that information is already present. It prevents the customer from needing to restate reoccurring issues to new agents, thus keeping their frustrations low and their satisfaction levels as high as possible.
All of this is attainable thanks to omni-channel integration – a concept that combines information from different communication channels into a single source for your agents to employ. But more than that, it creates a shared context about a customer’s behaviors, concerns and major communications. All of this is hugely important because it allows your agents to provide a more tailored experience each and every time.
By combining customer information from multiple channels into a single source, companies also put themselves in a better position to identify and repair weak links throughout the service experience if needed. Trends and patterns that may have otherwise gone undiscovered quickly become visible. This, too, increases customer satisfaction and even customer retention over the long-term.
Many CRM and software providers have already begun to realize this significant paradigm shift. As a result, they are already working to enable the technology necessary to deliver this level of service to organizations all around the world, regardless of size.
At the same time, however, it’s also important to consider that there are many traditional customer support departments that themselves are NOT prepared for this level of shift. Staff members are often skilled in one very particular, very precise level of support – and in one variety of need.
This is okay. This doesn’t mean there is anything “wrong” with your organization if that describes your situation. It just means that you need to evolve to meet the expectations of the modern audience, and you need to start doing it as soon as you can.
This reality is challenging both traditional call centers and traditional customer support departments alike to act and think differently. Rather than focusing on channel-specific skill sets, you need to start examining opportunities to pivot your staff in a more holistic direction. This is especially true with regard to their training, their knowledge and their aptitude necessary to reach the customer where they currently are.
The Challenges with an Omni-Channel Support and Strategic Solution
None of this is to say that omni-channel support will suddenly “solve all of your problems,” however. There are still a number of challenges that you will need to proactively work to overcome.
Chief among these is the idea that customers often have preferences on channels – preferences that vary wildly depending on who you’re talking about.
One customer may prefer connecting via a mobile device versus the phone, meaning that it can be difficult to decide what to invest in if they’re not necessarily indicative of your entire user base. This means that companies must also take into account their own unique demographic and target markets to decide which channels will be the most effective.
Limited resources is another major hurdle, which itself can be difficult to mitigate. Adding channels means an increase in the cost needed to support – which may be hard for smaller organizations to overcome.
The best companies usually focus on a few key channels rather than spreading themselves too thin across many. It’s better to do a few things really well than to become a “Jack of All Trades, Master of None.” Don’t let the level of the customer experience you’re able to deliver suffer.
At the same time, customers will also communicate on their own terms. Customers aren’t limited to a simple toll free support number these days. Because of that, their expectations have evolved to assume they can talk via whatever platform they choose and that it has become YOUR obligation to have a radar broad enough to pick up on those communications. You would also need a proverbial megaphone large enough to provide responses back via those same channels. This, too, can be difficult to properly address.
Obviously once the technology and the perception of your audience has been updated, the skilled staff you employ will need to follow suit. They will need to be proficient enough to communicate intelligently along ALL traditional channels and newer ones as well. But keep in mind that this isn’t just true in terms of omni-channel support as it exists today. They’ll need to stay on the edge of whatever evolution omni-channel support goes through tomorrow, five years from now and beyond, too.
Thankfully, Goodbay Technologies has a few things to say about that.
The Goodbay Approach
At Goodbay Technologies, we’ve worked hard over the years to become far more than just another outsourcing provider. We take a great detail of pride in how we’re able to be a true partner for our clients in every sense of the term. By making an effort to learn as much about you as we can, we do more than just offer you a viable mechanism to implement omni-channel support across your enterprise. We come up with the right deployment that is optimized for both your people AND your customers, exactly the way it should be.
If you’d like to find out more information about why omni-channel support is becoming more and more important to the modern day customer all the time, or if you just have any additional questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact Goodbay Technologies today.