How to Build Winning Omnichannel Customer Service
How to build a winning customer support experience with an omnichannel approach.
What is omnichannel customer service?
Omnichannel customer service means providing seamless support and solutions even as customers switch between different channels. With an omnichannel approach, all customer-facing teams – from support to sales – share the same view of the customer journey.
This shared context is made possible by integrating multiple channels into an ecosystem of customer engagement tools. Even as a customer switches between email, live chat, and SMS, a support agent would have a complete view of these interactions (and as a result, data silos disappear).
That’s what differentiates omnichannel from multichannel. If you have to keep asking customers to repeat information they already gave an agent in another channel, you’re likely providing a multichannel service. In this scenario, each touchpoint exists in a silo, leading to a disjointed (and frustrating) customer experience.
Why you need omnichannel customer service
Implementing omnichannel customer service helps you:
Understand customers better. Creating an omnichannel customer service strategy involves learning what channels your customers prefer. You discover which touchpoints tend to increase or decrease satisfaction.
Increase customer satisfaction. Nothing drives disloyalty more than having to exert a lot of effort during a customer service interaction. That’s based on a global study of 97,000 customers by analysts at Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a consulting firm. A disjointed experience increases customers’ effort by making them repeat information and reach out multiple times to a company.
Set yourself apart from competitors. Our State of Personalization survey found that only 35% of companies believe they are successfully providing personalized omnichannel experiences. That means you gain a competitive edge if you get omnichannel service right.
Solve problems more quickly and effectively. Teams sharing a single customer view can work together to solve problems. Say a customer calls because the vacuum cleaner you sold them broke. You assign that call to the most qualified agent using omnichannel routing. The agent views the caller’s purchase history, identifies the model they bought, and helps them with a repair or replacement.
How to implement an omnichannel customer service strategy
Identify your goals and how to track KPIs
Decide what you want to achieve by implementing an omnichannel customer service strategy. Your goals will help you measure success and identify areas for improvement. For example, your goal might be to increase customer satisfaction by a certain percentage – using NPS or CSAT (customer satisfaction scores) to help track progress (along with issue resolution times).
Know the customer journey
Omnichannel isn’t about offering every possible avenue for interaction – it’s about using the ones your customers find most convenient and comfortable. You’ll discover what these are by mapping out customer journeys. This process unearths insights on how to refine your customer service experience. For instance, you may find that some customers switch channels not because they want to, but because they feel like they have to.
Take the experience of one telecommunications company that found customers were calling agents, browsing the company’s website, and visiting physical branches before renewing their mobile contracts. Customers got different deals through each channel, and pitted themselves against each other to negotiate the best terms. The company ended up solving this problem with a recommendation engine that analyzed customers’ network usage and preferences. Customers got the same personalized renewal offer, regardless of the channel they were using.
Plan your UX
Plan your omnichannel UX by creating a customer service blueprint – a map that shows the customer journey, customer service interactions that occur throughout that journey, and the business tools and systems that enable each interaction.
Identify the channel that requires the least customer effort for a particular issue and highlight that channel in your UX. If your app is the fastest avenue for tracking a parcel, show the tracking button on the dashboard. If live chat offers the quickest path to resolution, make the chat box accessible from any page on your website.
Visualize what happens on the backend when customers take those steps. When they start a chat, you might automatically present them with a clickable list of common requests. When they click on their choice, you use a routing system that assigns the request to the most suitable agent.
Integrate your software with a modern data stack
A modern data stack lets you orchestrate omnichannel experiences at scale and in sync with other teams (such as marketing, sales, and product). It comprises a data pipeline that collects data from multiple sources, a cloud–based storage system, and connective tools for activating data in business apps. It performs identity resolution – recognizing the same customer across different IDs and channels, and unifying that customer’s data in a single profile.
Your ecosystem would look something like this:
With customers’ consent, you collect data on their interactions with your business, as well as their actions on your website and app. You stitch all this information together into a single profile that reveals the customer’s journey across touchpoints. Over time, you build deep knowledge of that customer.
This knowledge lets you deliver personalized experiences and contextual customer service. When customers contact you on any channel, you assign them to agents who are experienced in handling requests by people with similar profiles and product usage history. For example, different representatives may specialize in helping out Android users while others focus on iOS users. Some representatives may have training in handling customers with high lifetime value or those who are showing signs of potential churn.
Omnichannel customer service best practices
Prevent unnecessary switching between devices or apps
Switching channels increases customer effort, even when the transition is seamless. It also affects operational costs, as you spend more when you serve a customer through two channels instead of one.
Take inspiration from the way fintech firms reduce friction for signups. On e-wallet and neobank apps, customers can register, upload IDs, and verify their identity through video – all within a continuous process on a single interface.
Apply the same principle of a streamlined workflow to your customer service interactions. For instance, integrate voice and video call functions with your chat program to avoid channel-switching when you need to verify a customer's identity or gather sensitive information during a live chat. Deploy an out-of-the-box integrated solution or use programmable voice and video apps like those offered by Twilio.
Incorporate live chat resources
Live chat lets you respond instantly to queries and requests, eliminating the wait that comes with conventional channels like phone and email.
It’s also versatile – as mentioned above, you can integrate voice and video call features with live chat. You save people-hours by embedding clickable questions, templated responses, and useful links for FAQs like “Where do you ship?” or common requests like tracking an order. You can train chatbots to answer FAQs, especially during peak hours and when your agents aren’t working. And if bots can’t provide an answer, they can pass the conversation to a human agent.
Improve and expand FAQs
With FAQs, customers find answers and solutions without speaking to an agent or bot. FAQs are useful for teaching customers to do low-effort tasks, such as updating their account information and checking an order’s delivery status. They help you reduce operational costs by eliminating the time agents spend on answering common issues.
You can also analyze omnichannel customer data to spot customer interactions that began on the FAQ page and ended with a customer contacting you. Find out what customers’ concerns were in such cases, and add these and their solutions to your FAQs.
But FAQs can cause friction in the customer service experience if they provide outdated or insufficient information. If customers tell you they searched your FAQ page but had to call you in the end, take note. Use that feedback to add that question and its answer to your FAQs.
Common challenges in implementing omnichannel customer service
The transition from multichannel customer service to an omnichannel approach takes a lot of time, coordination, and careful execution. You’ll encounter challenges related to:
Converting traditional systems to digital ones. Migrating to a new system means implementing new software and redesigning your processes. It’s a challenge to find the best digital systems that fulfill your use case, fit in your budget, and make sense for your technical capabilities.
Maintaining consistent information across the board. Different software and teams have different definitions, formats, and uses for particular data types. These discrepancies can create confusion and lead to building data silos unless you have a shared, company-wide data tracking plan.
Training customer-facing employees. Agents used to interacting with customers on a single channel have to learn how to respond through other channels. They have to learn to work with tools like a centralized database, customer profiles, and omnichannel engagement platforms.
But the results are worth it. Our research shows that personalized omnichannel experiences deliver increased ROI. Nearly half of customers (49%) spend more with a retailer after a personalized experience, and 38% will shop again with a business that gave them a good experience even if cheaper options are out there.
Interested in hearing more about how Segment can help you?
Connect with a Segment expert who can share more about what Segment can do for you.