Today’s customers need more than just deals and discounts to shop with a brand.
Top-notch customer service is their ultimate deciding factor to interact, engage, and buy from brands.
But customer service is now deeper than the traditional approach of being available by email or phone.
The new generation of buyers loves to have the authority to choose a platform for brand interactions.
That’s where omnichannel customer service chips in.
In this article, we dive into the nitty-gritty of omnichannel customer service and how it can benefit your eCommerce business.
What is Omnichannel Customer Service?
Omnichannel customer service is a strategy where customer support is offered across digital customer touchpoints and channels. While traditional customer services solely focus on a single channel to provide support, omnichannel is when you align two or more digital channels and synchronize communication across these channels.
The ultimate goal of omnichannel customer service is to transition customer touchpoints and channels into an interconnected, frictionless communication ecosystem.
Linking various channels in this manner creates personalized customer experiences, enabling smooth interactions and better retention.
Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel Customer Service
The terms – omnichannel and multichannel are often used interchangeably. But there’s a vast difference between the two.
Firstly, multichannel means using ‘multiple’ channels, while omnichannel means creating a ‘unified’ experience using multiple synchronous channels.
Multichannel customer service aims to provide customer support across multiple communication channels instead of sticking to one channel, like phone calls, emails, or chatbots.
Omnichannel customer service features multiple customer support channels and allows customers to switch between channels mid-conversation without the risk of repeating conversations.
Multichannel customer service does not carry customer conversion histories from channel to channel. Whereas in omnichannel, customers can expect a unified and personalized experience regardless of the channel they use to interact with your support team.
Thus, the omnichannel strategy reduces redundant conversations between customers and support staff and saves time – creating omnichannel customer experiences.
Why is Omnichannel for Customer Service Necessary?
Let’s discuss the benefits of implementing an omnichannel customer service strategy for your eCommerce business:
Better customer satisfaction
Nothing frustrates customers like having to repeat their concerns on every channel. Omnichannel customer service removes such barriers by allowing sharing of conversation histories across channels.
Offering your support team access to such data lets them quickly resolve issues without redundancy. Also, customers have the freedom to choose their preferred channel to communicate. As a result, your customers’ needs are met faster, leading to happier and more satisfied shoppers.
Get complete context on customer concerns
Often in single-channel or multichannel customer service, the support team is forced to rehash a previous customer conversation to understand the context. This wastes time and multiplies the efforts of both customers and teams.
Context-gathering is easier with omnichannel customer service as channels are more synchronized with information flowing readily. Your customer support team doesn’t have to waste time gaining context and can instead spend time resolving the concern as soon as it lands in their bucket.
Gather more data about your audience
Connecting channels for customer service opens up better ways to record customer data. You have better scope to analyze crucial metrics, such as how customers interact with your brand, their attitudes toward your products, their underlying concerns, etc.
In an omnichannel structure, your team can see how customers’ needs and conditions change as they transition from one channel to another.
Gaining access to such insights lets you optimize your customer service strategies to increase eCommerce sales and personalize customer experiences, thus encouraging customers to explore more products.
Resolve needs faster
Over 79% of customers expect responses to concerns posted on social media within 24 hours.
Thankfully, with an omnichannel approach, your customers don’t have to wait around for resolutions like in traditional methods.
A combination of readily available customer data and sharing of conversation histories throughout the tied channels leads to rapid resolutions of customers’ needs.
64% of customers say they switch brands due to bad customer service. On the other hand, three out of five customers agree that great customer service is essential for them to stay committed to a brand.
An omnichannel customer service strategy lets you map out customer journeys, understand customers’ changing engagement needs, and personalize communication across channels. As a result of offering hyper-personalized experiences, customers tend to stay more loyal to your brand and not slip away to your competitors.
Reduce customer churn
Customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition. And investing in an omnichannel customer service strategy can decrease the customer churn rate and overall CAC due to quick support and well-connected experiences.
Stand out from the competition
Outstanding customer service gives you an added advantage over your competitors. Offering customer service and support on a variety of channels like social media, chatbots, email, phone calls, etc., gets customers to actively interact with your brand and keep coming back for more.
How to Create an Omnichannel Customer Service Strategy?
Here are nine steps to create an excellent omnichannel customer service strategy for your eCommerce brand:
1. Understand what customers are looking for
Before going head first with an omnichannel customer service strategy and using every channel at your disposal, start by understanding what channels your customers are currently on and what they are likely to engage with.
For example, most Gen Z and millennial customers may prefer social media like Instagram to communicate with an eCommerce brand over older age groups. So if your customer demographic mostly consists of 18 to 35-year-olds, ensure you leverage social media platforms into your omnichannel customer service equation.
2. Understand the strengths of each support channel
Make the most out of your digital channels by understanding how each of them actually works, how two or more channels behave in tandem, and the best way to use each channel.
An in-depth understanding of how multiple channels can be utilized in your omnichannel customer service strategy is key to supporting customers without any friction.
For example, you may find that forwarding customers with complex concerns on social media to a virtual call center is the best way to connect both channels to your support network.
3. Focus on mobile accessibility
About 76% of consumers report they prefer shopping on mobile devices as it ‘saves them time.’ Mobile devices, as usual, top the list of accessible channels to engage with a brand.
Smartphones have made it easier for customers to start and finish a conversation right at their fingertips.
So ensure your omnichannel customer service strategy supports every digital channel accessible from a mobile device.
For example, email, chatbot, chat, or phone support should be easily accessible by customers on their mobile devices, just like on a desktop.
4. Map customer journeys
Like most result-driven strategies, your omnichannel customer service strategy also needs a well-defined map to understand where you’re headed and what you plan to achieve.
Map out your customers’ journeys by including who they are, the traditional path they usually take, and the channels they incline to. Doing so helps you uncover roadblocks and budget resources.
5. Segment your audience
No two customers have the same needs and concerns. So instead of considering your customers as a single entity, start segmenting them into smaller groups with shared characteristics.
Segmentation lets you offer individualized customer support across channels by catering to varied customer needs. For instance, a new customer may need more product awareness through customer support via email, while a current customer may have concerns about products purchased.
Most eCommerce companies prefer segmenting customers based on their loyalty and how much they spend with the brand. For example, you could segment customers based on their average order value, lifetime value, and if they are new, inactive, or former customers. This way, you can prioritize support and offer every customer the right level of support.
6. Centralize your conversations
Omnichannel customer service often leads to support teams switching between multiple channels and being watchful of hundreds of notifications. Eventually, bouncing between platforms leads to poor team productivity.
The solution? Using unified customer service platforms like helpdesks with centralized conversations sourced from every channel. A single platform with an easy-to-use dashboard eliminates the need for your customer support agents and teams to switch between channels and instead focus on resolving the customer concern at hand.
A unified platform, such as a helpdesk, also lets customers access their past conversations with support agents and get instant responses to frequently asked questions.
7. Leverage automation
Use automation tools like automated workflow builders to respond to routine customer queries, such as “Where is my order?”, “Where can I find product X?” and “How long does shipping take?”
AI-led automation tools can help you understand customer intent across channels and offer accurate and timely support. Leveraging automation can not just speed up your response rates and boost customer satisfaction but can also save your support team’s time and effort in responding to routine questions manually.
For example, you can enable automated support in your omnichannel customer service strategy on channels like social media and emails and connect them to create canned responses.
8. Offer self-service
Offering self-service options as part of your omnichannel strategy lets your customers take control over problem-solving for simple queries. Self-service portals like FAQ pages, automated AI-powered chatbots, and knowledge centers allow customers to instantly find answers without having to wait for a live agent.
Microsoft’s recent reports suggest over 88% of customers expect eCommerce brands to have an online self-service portal for quicker resolutions.
Additionally, 47% of customers prefer completing their purchases through a chatbot, with an average order value of about $55.
Here are the essential self-service support systems you can tie into your omnichannel strategy:
9. Monitor, measure, and optimize
To continuously improve your omnichannel customer service strategy, you must monitor and measure metrics and tweak your efforts.
Monitoring omnichannel customer service involves identifying key customer support metrics and measuring them to determine if your strategy needs tweaking. The ultimate goal is to identify areas within channels that may need improvements before customers start to complain and lose interest in your brand.
Some useful metrics you can monitor and measure for an omnichannel strategy are:
Key Takeaways for Omnichannel Customer Service
Customer service is the backbone of eCommerce brands. And brands looking for a competitive edge need not look further than implementing an omnichannel customer service strategy.
An omnichannel approach opens a route for cleaner inter-channel communication, more opportunities to access customer data, and customer loyalty.
Start small by identifying key channels your customers are most inclined to, ensure they work in tandem to double down your sales, and slowly build your way up.