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The challenge of serving today’s omnichannel and omnipresent customer

(Image credit: Image Credit: Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock)

Over the past decade, we have seen customers flock from physical stores to see products, check prices and make purchases, to a more convenient and less time consuming digital shopping experience, which, in many cases, involve multiple channels of communication.

Today, customers check product’s features on social media, request prices via email, and purchase through webchats. In fact, according to a Zendesk study, 67 per cent of online shoppers have made purchases in the past six months that have involved multiple channels.

This new way of shopping has led companies to offer multiple contact channels as a means for survival in today’s market. But, even though it’s extremely important to respond to customers’ needs through different channels, it’s useless if you don’t have a strategy to coordinate and organise those interactions.

Truth is, 63 per cent of customers want to be able to switch smoothly from channel to channel. Today having an Omnichannel Customer Service strategy which integrates all communication channels of a company has become a must in order to make interactions easier for customers. The goal is to provide a consistent service so that the user doesn’t notice differences, overlapping or errors between the channels.

In a constantly growing digital landscape, with more and more apps, platforms and channels to interact on, it becomes essential for companies to be where their customers are. And it is not just about being there: it is also about adapting the experience to each channel while, at the same time, providing an integral overall customer experience.

You might think “yeah, I heard this before, but I just cannot be bothered”. But, it is actually what will keep today’s customers coming back and the money flowing into a business.

A report by Aberdeen Group revealed that companies with sustained omnichannel customer engagement keep an average of 89 per cent of their existing customers, while those with poor omnichannel customer engagement only retain an average of 33 per cent. So, how can companies  provide a fast yet personalised omnichannel experience?

Tips to developing an omnichannel customer experience

Customers want an integrated shopping experience. They expect companies to meet their needs and demands even when they use different channels to communicate. So, what should businesses keep in mind to make sure their customers are happy with their experience?

1. Provide options

Some customers will prefer to communicate with your company through online chat or email. Others will choose self-service alternatives like forums and FAQs. And there are those who still prefer social media or even being contacted by phone. These different profiles require a service that adapts to their needs and is always ready to assist them through their preferred channel.

2. Don’t keep customers waiting

Time is a key factor for ensuring a positive user experience with your brand. In fact, according to Inside Sales, if you wait 5 minutes to respond after a lead initially makes contact, there’s 10x reduction in your odds of getting in touch with that lead. After 10 minutes, this figure plummets to a 400 per cent decrease in your odds of retaining that customer.

3. Allow all touch points to be useful and effective to sell

If the service meets your customers’ expectations, they will be more satisfied with your company — and satisfied consumers buy more. According to a report by Harvard Business Review, a 5 per cent increase in customer retention may mean an increase of up to 95 per cent in a company’s annual earnings. The flexibility offered by an omnichannel experience can be a great ally for a company’s growth. They just need to make sure that all channels allow for customers to engage directly and provide a simplified purchase experience. Sending a customer from one channel to the next in order to find out a price or an answer is a big no-no.

4. Understand customers

Customers will tell companies what they want, if they are smart enough to hear them out. Data is a great source of information about current customers and potential buyers.   Having this information at hand and analysing it will help them develop very efficient Marketing and Sales initiatives, make more focused and assertive strategic decisions, as well as predict customer behaviour.

5. Personalise customer experience

Working seamlessly across all channels is just the first step. Aside from that, omnichannel customer service also implies considering customers as individuals, analysing their records, understanding how they interact and knowing their interests and preferences.

6. Support customer serving teams with the right technology

Serving and selling to customers through different channels can be very overwhelming for customer service and sales teams. A company might understand the value of being present in multiple channels but not have the resources to be able to properly support their customers in each one of these. But there are many tools which can help teams out. For example, an omnichannel chatbot can be an important ally at this point.

An omnichannel chatbot can be successfully implemented in multiple channels like a company’s website, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and wherever users interact but can still be managed from a single platform. It has a strong impact on immediate responses and can provide solutions for the user in just a few seconds. In fact, if a chatbot is powered by Artificial Intelligence, it can reply in a human-like way to make it easier for your customers to interact. Some chatbots even offer integrations with voice and live channels, so that clients can call Customer Service or contact a human agent at any time during the conversation.

At the same time, chatbots can store information from each user interaction in a single place. This way, companies know which channel the customer has used to contact the company in the past, what type of interaction it was and which products or services they purchased, keeping a full historic on customer behaviour which allows for a seamless flow from one channel to the other.

This type of personalisation can have a strong business impact. A study by Harte Hanks Quarterly, customer-centric chatbots can provide a 300 per cent improvement in customer lifetime value.

Martín Frascaroli, founder, Aivo