7 Ways to Get More From Omnichannel Customer Service

As the number of customer engagement channels grows, providing optimal customer service becomes more likely — and more problematic. Many organizations fall into the trap of siloed management. You can add every possible channel to your contact center, but if those channels operate in silos, customers won’t have a seamless experience. The result is fragmented and disjointed tracking of customer journeys, user behavior and channel performance. Omnichannel solves this foundational issue by sharing data across channels in real-time.

Making sense of data from different sources and in different formats — and using it properly — requires an understanding of what’s possible. With omnichannel, you have a shared data model to support your customer-centric strategy. Now let’s look at how to make the most of it.

1. Treat Every Interaction as Part of Customer Service

When you look at customer engagement, remember that customers see all of your lines of business as one entity – not individual silos. They don’t care how your business is structured. It’s all customer service to them, for better or worse.

Tagging all customer touchpoints gives you a foundation for analyzing how your customers have engaged with you in the past and how they prefer to engage now. From this, you can map the most common paths your customers take through self-service and assisted service and guide them to desired business outcomes.

2. Self-Service Is Customer Service

Most customers will first attempt to handle things on their own before initiating a call center interaction. Implement customer self-service channels that leverage your knowledge content. This gives customers an immediate, on-demand answers that reduce the need for them to call a live agent. In “The Case For Omnichannel Self-Service,” Forrester notes that “74% of decision-makers agree that personalized self-service interactions are increasingly important in building customer relationships.” But self-serving customers need an escape hatch.

As self-service increases, calls into support agents occur less frequently, although those calls are often for more critical or emotional interactions. This gives agents the opportunity to have a greater impact on the resolution of the issue and on the overall customer experience. Self-service can’t be a dead end that frustrates. Instead, it should be part of the larger customer experience.

3. Empower Agents With a Single View of Each Customer

Most call center agents need to access three or more apps to resolve a single customer issue. Searching for the relevant app adds time to the interaction. But when agents work from an omnichannel desktop, they use the same interface to handle every type of interaction, regardless of its nature or source. This includes direct calls, website, IVR, mobile apps and social media. When agents use the same desktop for every customer interaction, productivity improves – especially for new agents – and so does the customer experience.

An omnichannel desktop also includes knowledge management and journey history. When a customer mentions a previous email, web chat, text message or a social media posting, the agent can access the details of that contact instantly, including web browsing history.

4. Use Customer Behavior Data for Predictive Engagement

When carts are abandoned, leads are lost. And all you end up with is a frustrated customer who might shop elsewhere. Some industries experience average cart abandonment rates as high as 83.6%. The best time to engage a customer is before any frustration begins.

Using analytics, powered by machine learning, predictive engagement lets you guide known and unknown website users to achieve what you built your website for: to buy, to sign up for offers and to get answers. This type of predictive engagement and routing can reduce handle time up to 70% and improve first contact resolution up to 55%. Bots act like virtual assistants to give agents more time for quality one-on-one interactions. And less time is wasted trying to manually determine intent.

5. Validate Your Data with Benchmarking and Metrics

Customer experience and customer service are connected — and metrics show that contact center interactions directly affect the customer experience. In the recent “Global Customer Experience Benchmarking” study from Dimension Data, more than 84% of respondents said that improved customer experience had increased revenue; 79% reported cost savings as a result.

Base your omnichannel customer service strategy on solid, quantifiable data. By comparing your products, services and processes with other organizations, you can identify new ideas and areas for improvement using KPIs. Most contact centers generate plenty of benchmarking data. But not everyone knows which metrics are most useful. In its “US Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2018, ContactBabel shared insights on a variety of topics, including customer experience benchmarking.

6. Support Bot and Human Teamwork

Customer engagement isn’t linear; customer conversations with you might cross channels mid-stream. For example, if someone is serviced by an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot in the mortgage department of a finance company, they might want to speak to an agent for a more complex question. But when that customer is forced to repeat details, it negatively affects their overall experience. Likewise, bots shouldn’t service certain customer journeys. If a customer calls in for an insurance claim on a recent traffic accident, a human might be a better option during that stressful moment. But once you resolve that initial issue, a bot can handle scheduling more efficiently than a human can.

According to Forrester, organizations that blend AI and human agent interactions into a seamless customer service experience see a 66% increase in agent productivity; 61% report increased customer satisfaction. Combining the power of intelligent automation with human employees creates a tightly integrated end-to-end experience. You’ll deliver faster service, reduce call volumes and improve first contact resolution.

7. Don’t Forget the Power of Voice

Although more than 80% of customer interactions now start via a non-voice channel, voice is still essential to good customer experience. But “voice only” is limiting. Attempting to move from voice-only to digital or online puts more burden on the customer. Often, what matters most to customers is the amount of energy they have to expend. They should be able to connect with you on any channel.

Voice has become a channel of escalation — the last resort when cumbersome IVRs can’t get customers to the right answers quickly enough. But conversational IVR is changing that. This voice-driven, hands-free customer self-service channel uses Natural Language Understanding to recognize content and the context of spoken requests. It removes the burden on customers to navigate through slow, confusing and hierarchical menus. And it lets customers continue to self‑serve and resolve issues within the IVR.

Build Your Future on Omnichannel

Omnichannel customer service isn’t just for the call center. Sales and marketing teams can also use these capabilities to deliver a more consistent and effective brand message.

And that’s exactly what customers expect: consistent experiences across channels and devices. Take advantage of the opportunities built into omnichannel customer service and reach your goals faster. Read this ebook to find out all the ways omnichannel can help you build long-term customer loyalty.