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Estudios: 5 best practices for building the omnichannel customer service strategy

Author: Miguel Noronha

Source: Retail Customer Experience

The definition of a true omnichannel experience might seem ambiguous for companies across the board, but for customers, the distinction is clear — even if they aren’t aware of the industry jargon.

To see this in practice, imagine that a customer receives a debit card in the mail from his bank. The customer goes to activate the card online but encounters an issue, so he jumps onto the website’s chat feature and is connected to a bot. The bot asks for the customer’s information and problem, then directs him to call the customer service number.

Once on the phone, the customer repeats the information and problem to an interactive voice response, which then transfers him to a live person at the bank. Now, for the third time, the customer explains everything again. At this point, he’s frustrated, still doesn’t have a solution, and has wasted a significant amount of time.

Now, imagine a different customer in the same situation. He receives a card in the mail and experiences issues activating it online, so he hops onto chat. The chatbot collects the information and stores it in a database. An agent is notified and reaches out to the customer via phone. The agent quickly reviews the situation and is able to answer his question — without having the customer repeating himself over and over.

Which customer would you say is more likely to return to the bank for further financial services or refer the bank to a friend?

A seamless experience

The answer is obvious, but the reason for the distinction may be less so. Companies often struggle to get to the root of the difference between omnichannel and multichannel customer service. True omnichannel grows from a tacit acknowledgment of modern customer service expectations. In a mobile world where people are always on the run, customers need options: Where email works for one context, chat works for another, and phone for yet another.

But customers don’t want to repeat their information over and over again as they switch between channels. True omnichannel customer service ensures a seamless customer experience in multiple channels, whereas a multichannel approach simply offers many channels — without the guarantee that the context will be maintained from one to another. Many companies that claim to have an omnichannel strategy are actually stuck in this multichannel approach.

Prominent among the reasons for this disconnect is the fact that the majority of companies are merely adding channels through acquisitions, rather than building them from the same core with a proper and full integration among all. Omnichannel strategies must anchor everything to the same core customer database and be translated to the same agent interface.

When executed well, the benefits of omnichannel customer service are many. Both the customer and the company maximize time by spending less of it rehashing issues — which allows the company to strengthen the customer’s sense of familiarity across multiple channels and agent interactions. By going beyond a mere multichannel experience, the customer finds freedom to choose a preferred channel. Conversely, service agents gain satisfaction through successfully solving customer issues without having to switch among different systems and interfaces.

5 steps to an omnichannel solution

Here are five best practices to implementing a true omnichannel approach:

1. Know your customers. Despite the difference between omnichannel and multichannel approaches, both begin with this foundation. Before you can build a solution, you must understand what channels your customers want.

2. Don’t neglect traditional channels. Don’t forget that some customers still prefer traditional means of communication. Some will still favor voice and email avenues over chat and social media, so be sure that your omnichannel customer experience accounts for both the old and the new.

3. Include self-service. Some customers would rather find simple guidance that helps them solve their own problems than be led by an agent. Be sure your omnichannel solution offers an entry point that allows these customers to leap easily to another channel without a hitch.

4. Guarantee full context. Remember, the goal is to ensure seamless customer experience in multiple channels. To do that, you’ve got to guarantee that all of the customer’s history and context is available in real time across every channel you’re offering. When it comes down to it, this is the crux of the omnichannel vs. multichannel debate.

5. Equip your employees. Making sure employees understand what omnichannel customer service is means not only communicating the importance of a smooth customer experience, but also making it easy for employees to provide that experience. Ensure that all information is readily available on one simple desktop that shows past interactions, customer history, product information, and more. When all customer information is available at the tap of a finger, employees require almost no training.

When customers encounter companies strong in these areas, they notice not the well-executed omnichannel plan, but that sense of connection at every touchpoint. When that happens, even a stodgy old bank can feel fresh and new again.

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