Customer service is a top priority for many companies in 2019, and for good reason. An overwhelming majority of people (96 percent) report that customer service is an important factor when determining if they are loyal to brands. In fact, companies lost $75 billion in customer attrition due to bad customer service experiences in 2017 alone.
Brands are further challenged to deliver on customer service expectations as new digital communications channels enter the mix. For many reasons — busy lifestyles, owning diverse devices and more — shoppers desire multiple touchpoints with brands, and they reward organizations that deliver across channels. However, there’s a major difference between multichannel and omnichannel, and customers have taken notice. Multichannel means having different communication channels through which shoppers can contact your company, which is what many customer service programs are capable of currently. But omnichannel means there’s a strategy behind each digital touchpoint and all are connected for a more holistic experience — a reality many organizations are still chasing.
Fortunately, cloud-based omnichannel contact centers allow companies to add new communication channels to their digital customer service program when ready, and to easily integrate new channels with existing ones. Connecting disparate communications channels like email, text and social media inspires a unified customer service experience that boosts metrics like satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Omnichannel contact centers use context to improve future customer experiences
Too often, customers experience frustration when interacting with brands and retailers because of disjointed communications. For example, a shopper who contacts a customer service representative via Twitter to report a missing package may have to repeat her personal information and problem when, later on, she transfers her resolution process to email.
Omnichannel contact centers solve for this unnecessary disconnect. The technology can handle communications virtually anywhere customers choose to interact with organizations, and what’s more, omnichannel contact centers ensures all touchpoints build on each other, not restart.
Consider again our shopper with the missing package. With an omnichannel contact center in place, the agent managing this shopper’s customer service interaction is prepared with an entire timeline of her prior communications with the company. As the customer moves between channels or customer service representatives, a ‘customer ID’ or ‘customer profile’ travels with her so that she never has to re-explain her problem or previous resolution attempts. Rather than sort customers into broad buckets and assume certain demographics will prefer a specific type of talk track, omnichannel contact centers provide the context customer service teams require to tailor experiences on a 1-1 basis. This strategy boosts satisfaction and expedites the resolution process.
Omnichannel contact centers use data to take context one step further. There’s a growing need for sentiment analysis as part of the customer service experience, where organizations use data to better understand the interactions they’re having with customers via digital channels. For example, omnichannel contact centers can track pre-determined keywords across digital channels to denote an unhappy or happy customer in real time. This practice helps organizations learn what percentage of a customer’s communications with the brand have been positive or negative. Such a segmented understanding of the entire customer journey offers service agents additional context to improve future engagements.
As an added bonus, omnichannel contact centers can use data in aggregate to upgrade customer service programs beyond 1-1 interactions. Over time, for instance, the technology can learn that customers most often tweet at a company when they are upset. Conversely, when customers choose email as their touchpoint, they tend to offer positive feedback. Recognizing trends across and by channel empowers organizations to gain a more holistic understanding of their communications strategies and act on data-driven insights that boost program performance for all customers.
Omnichannel contact centers align organizations when paired with unified communication and collaboration solutions
Once an omnichannel contact center is in place, organizations have the opportunity to fine-tune customer engagements further with the addition of a unified communication and collaboration (UCC) solution. UCC solutions combine internal and external customer interactions to power seamless and satisfying experiences across the entire organization, not just within the customer service department.
The entire operation benefits when customer service — and offering a seamless, productive customer experience — is a responsibility of the entire organization, instead of just the service level. Employees, no matter the departments they work in, must be as informed as possible on every individual customer, down to where else she has interacted with the company in the past and what happened therein. When a shopper shifts from customer service to another business department, it’s crucial that her personal information and entire history of engagements with the brand move with her, just as they do across customer service channels.
For example, if our shopper with her missing package ultimately decides she’d like a reimbursement for her purchase, a transfer to the billing department should never necessitate her repeating her situation. To make the return process even easier, the employee who greets her at billing should already have access to her purchase history and credit card information from sales. Tightly integrated UCC and omnichannel contact center solutions ensure that the customer experience does not suffer when engagements move beyond the walls of the customer service department. The technology empowers different departments to collaborate seamlessly and share important customer information and context, which prevents disjointed customer experiences company-wide no matter where shoppers choose to engage.
Although decision makers feel the pressure to enhance their digital customer service programs fast, an important process conversation must take place as organizations bring on different customer experience technologies. Before investing, think through your entire customer journey and explore the full lifecycle of who a customer might talk to, when they might engage, the transfers that could happen across departments, etc. Only then can omnichannel contact centers and UCC solutions integrate appropriately and work for one another — and for your entire organization.