Optimising customer service in the omnichannel world
The customer service landscape is changing rapidly and businesses need to adapt quickly to keep up.
The move from multichannel to omnichannel communication arguably represents a seismic shift. It is no longer enough to be able to communicate with customers on multiple channels, omnichannel customer service is the new goal. Customers must be able to move seamlessly from channel to channel, experiencing your brand consistently through each.
Customer service is evolving and businesses who embrace omnichannel technology and culture will reap the benefits. A recent Forrester statistic found that “Omni-channel customers are 45% more valuable than just in-store shoppers at Macy’s – personalization is key across all channels.” This Tweet, proving just how powerful omnichannel customer service is.
Businesses are no longer simply bricks-and-mortar locations, they’re websites, social media interactions and apps. Today’s customers are increasingly sophisticated and technology-savvy, interacting with products and services through multiple channels or touchpoints from physical to online stores, web sites, social media channels, mobile apps, calls, emails, texts and video chat via computers, mobiles and tablets. The challenge is creating a unified customer experience across all channels.
Being as smart as the smartphones
The proliferation of mobile devices means that companies need to make sure customers can interact with them while they’re on the move, in whatever way suits them best. Mobile apps have raised customer expectations of how they should be able to interact with companies but so far most of the communication has been one-way.
Using social media in customer service
If customers are online on social networking and media sites discussing products or services, companies should be there too to join in the conversation. Social media monitoring and integration tools allow them to track and respond to comments on social media in a timely fashion and use social media sites as an effective marketing tool. At eircom we recognise how important it is to engage with our customers through social media and we have a team dedicated to doing just that. We can respond to both positive and negative comments, which lets our customers know that we are listening and taking their comments on board, improving both customer service and customer perceptions of our brand. At eircom we are proud to practise what we preach – we have recently been awarded “Best Business Twitter Account: Support, CRM” at the 2012 Social Media Awards.
The technology exists – it’s time to take it a step further
With GPS there’s no reason stores can’t identify customers at the front door and deliver a personalised shopping experience (Yelp is a prime example of GPS in use in Ireland) or equip salespeople with tablets to research products, check stock levels (Maplin Electronics, for example, can look into all their other stores to see where a particular product is available and have it delivered or set aside in the other store for collection) or act as mobile checkouts. Self-service points could allow customers to check availability or order online in a sister store and mobile payments could even enable them to check themselves out.
With customers calling the shots about where, when and how they want to interact, companies need to deliver and those who can will gain the competitive advantage. The best way to achieve this is by creating a unified customer experience across all channels.
Key tips for optimising omnichannel customer service:
A report by Forrester (Aug 23rd, 2011) lists the following recommendations on how to achieve omnichannel customer service:
1.Deliver organisational-driven customer service.
2. Provide support when and where customers want it.
3. Ensure a consistent customer service experience across all touchpoints.
4. Develop cross-touchpoint strategies to ensure customers can move seamlessly between devices and channels.