We live in a world where you have multiple points of access to the internet at any given point in the day. You probably have at least two next to you right now.
It’s an inevitable transition in society. As technology progresses at breakneck speeds, we make more and more space in our lives to fully integrate it into our daily habits, behaviors, and lifestyles.
What does that mean for marketers, service reps, and salespeople?
It means that businesses have to change as technology does and start delivering more omni-channel experiences, especially when it comes to customer support.
What Is Customer Support?
Customer support is the service your business offers to help your customers get the most out of your product or service.
This may take the form of troubleshooting, answering questions, assisting with onboarding, and even upgrading customers to a better offer.
With customer support, businesses reap the benefits of:
- High engagement rates
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Continuous feedback
- Returning customers
What Is Omni-Channel Customer Support?
The focus of omni-channel support is still on uplifting customers, but the omni-channel experience is approached across multiple channels. Doing so allows for a more cohesive, integrated customer experience, free of restrictions no matter how a customer reaches out.
In plain terms, this means a customer can hop from their desktop to their phone and then walk into a physical store and have the same experience the whole way through.
Omni-channel shouldn’t be confused with multichannel, though:
- Multichannel: support offered over more than two channels.
- Omni-channel: support offered across more than two channels seamlessly in a singular experience.
As you can imagine, the omni-channel experience is a more holistic one for customers, making it favorable for a multitude of reasons.
4 Benefits of Creating an Omni-Channel Experience
There’s a lot more to gain through omni-channel customer support than just making customers happy (even though that is pretty important). You’ll reap some pretty great benefits for your business specifically as well.
1. Gather Customer Feedback.
Getting customer insight is invaluable for any marketing, sales, or service team. Who better to tell you if you’re on the right track than those purchasing with you?
Working through an omni-channel system allows you to bring all of that data and feedback to a single dashboard, making it easier to analyze. Having it all in one place gives you the power to work efficiently and proactively toward improving your operations.
2. Optimize Support Strategies.
Following that train of thought, you can use all of that data to create an overall better customer experience for your brand.
Customer needs and expectations change regularly, making it important for you to stay on top of what their demands are.
You can turn the insights you gather into actionable items and processes to improve your strategies. You’ll be able to offer more to your customers, differentiating your business from others that aren’t quite up to speed.
Not only can you optimize your support strategies, but you can also manage your marketing and sales strategies as well, as they all are a part of the omni-channel experience.
3. Engage with Customers Directly.
When you engage with customers in real time, you’re able to tackle issues head on and get ahead of customer frustration and potential fall off. Failing to answer their requests in a timely manner is a great way to encourage them to look somewhere else.
Through omni-channel support systems, it’s easier to avoid falling behind since you’re engaging with them directly.
If the issue can’t be resolved right away, following up is still easy, as you can reach out to them across any channel without having to start the process all over again, and vice versa.
4. Meet Customers Where They Are.
The beauty of omni-channel support is that it’s at customers’ fingertips no matter where they are.
In a market where customers expect for their demands to be met immediately, you can try and lessen the gap between their issue occurring and having it resolved. You’re able to provide real time support through chats, videos, screen sharing, and more across mobile devices and desktops.
It’s a truly unique experience to be able to serve and be served no matter where you’re at or when a problem arises.
How to Create an Omni-Channel Customer Support Strategy
Rolling out a great omni-channel customer experience can feel overwhelming. How are you supposed to make yourself readily available to customers at all times if you don’t already have those systems in place?
Thankfully, there are some pretty great best practices that you can follow to get you on the right track.
Implement Live Chat Services.
Live chat messaging has become a pretty popular way of delivering value for both sales and service teams. Customers appreciate being able to access help quickly, in real time, rather than sitting for hours on end on a phone.
Implement the software both on your website and in your mobile apps to make sure you're accessible to all of your customers.
Offer 24/7 Customer Support.
Does this mean have a call center open all day, every day? Maybe. If it's feasible and scalable for your company.
For most businesses, though, that's an impractical venture.
Instead, take advantage of automated emails that log customer requests for your service team and leverage chatbots that can direct customers to relevant pages.
Customers will be able to at least have their issues acknowledged and started on, even if they're up at 3 a.m. on a Sunday.
This may feel kind of like a cop out, but this is a service that customers find incredibly valuable.
Customers are constantly looking for easy solutions. And it's even better if they can do it themselves. Here are a couple enablement tools you can offer to give them the convenience of not having to contact your service team:
Even if they aren't able to resolve the issue themselves and wind up contacting a sales rep, having self-service tools in place is a step in the right direction.
Deliver Great Mobile Experiences.
Mobile accessibility is everything today. If your website isn't optimized for mobile devices, then you're in deep water.
A huge complaint that customers have is when a mobile site has an incorrect display or is difficult to navigate. That frustration is compounded when they're looking for help.
Make sure your mobile app and site should have fast load times, accurate search results, and accurate displays. Omni-channel includes mobile devices, after all.
Respond on Social Media.
A lot of people take their service issues to Twitter and Facebook and expect responses. Practicing social listening keeps you relevant to your customers and also provides insight to what problems they're facing.
Make sure that you're responding to social media posts related to service requests in a timely manner. You'll be able to keep your customer churn rates low and boost brand awareness.
5 Examples of Omni-Channel Customer Support
It's all well and good to talk about it, but it always helps to see a practice in action. We've found some really great examples of omni-channel customer support to help you identify how you'd like to implement it.
Starbucks is widely recognized as the leading champion in omni-channel experiences.
Their app provides a seamless user experience where customers can pay with a Starbucks card, physical card, or through the mobile app. No matter which option the customer chooses, they can earn points.
They can also search for nearby stores, save favorite drinks and order ahead of time, send gifts, and even view new menu items through the app. Most recently, a Spotify integration has been rolled out where customers can see what songs are playing in a specific store.
They've earned their place at the top with so many touch points available to their customer.
For such a large brand, you probably wouldn't think that they'd need to implement something as complex as omni-channel support, but their scale is what makes it so necessary.
The company that was founded on innovation and imagination has taken this idea and ran with it.
Their website is optimized for every device imaginable and their app is built to elevate the Disney experience.
Users can plan their whole trip on the app, get real-time wait times for rides, unlock hotel rooms, get their photos taken by photographers around the parks, and so much more – all through one application.
From the moment they consider booking a trip to the moment they check out of their hotel room or leave the park, Disney's customers are connected to hundreds of tools and support systems. Everything can be managed through their phone.
Walgreens customers have the ability to fill out refill requests, find product deals, and make pick-up orders on their advanced mobile app.
And while it's a mobile-focused experience, the app is meant to improve in-store experiences for users, making it truly omni-channel.
Every action customers make on the app leads to a streamlined, easy visit at a physical location elevating their overall experience with the brand.
4. Bank of America
Bank of America has a similar approach to omni-channel experiences as Walgreens, giving customers accessibility to their services over multiple devices on their own time.
You can deposit checks, schedule appointments, and get in contact with service reps from your phone, tablet, or laptop.
More complex banking services, like applying for loans, still have to be done in-person on location. Still, users appreciate having the ability to perform those smaller tasks, liking paying bills, at their fingertips without having to drive to an actual branch.
The burrito giant has taken significant steps to eliminate the frustration of wrong orders made online or over the phone. And let's admit that we all hate it when that happens. Chipotle's mobile site and app let customers order from anywhere.
Upon sign up, a user can create their perfect order and save it for easy ordering at the touch of a button. The app will even suggest the location they last ordered from, saving them the time needed to search for an address.
Chipotle delivers on providing an easy-to-use omni-channel experience with the intention of making their customers' lives more convenient.
Customers' expectations of the relationships between them and their favorite brands has evolved. To meet their needs, you'll need to be accessible at all times in all places.
With omni-channel support, your customers know that they can rely on you for excellent service no matter what. That's not a bad reputation to have.