Your Guide to Building an Engaging Omnichannel Customer Experience
Author: Maria Alejandra Lopez
Source: Customer Think
Your customer experience is indivisible. A bad interaction with your voice, email, chat, SMS, or social channels diminishes trust and satisfaction for your entire brand. And it’s a problem we anticipate will worsen as more social platforms and distinct channels emerge. The only way for brands to keep face and thrive in the future is to take a holistic approach to their total or omnichannel customer experience. Here’s how to address each aspect of your customer engagement strategy in a way that results in greater customer satisfaction and an improved bottom line.
Follow the Trends in Social
In under a decade, social media has grown from a fringe channel to one of the primary ways brands interact with their customers. Almost 45% of consumers use social media customer service to answer questions, fix issues, and make comments about brands. Most companies received the memo and established some presence on Twitter and Facebook. Yet social will remain one of the channels where complacency is the most risky.
The challenge is that social media trends ebb and flow. MySpace had its day, but is now a digital ghost town. Google+ failed to pump up the crowd and never gained more than middling support. And though 69% of Americans use Facebook currently, a time will come when consumers gravitate toward a newer and more exciting platform. And shrewd brands will follow consumers wherever they are.
Instagram offers a great lesson on how to adapt. The audience has grown steadily since its inception, and 37% of Americans now use the photo and video-sharing platform in some capacity. As that audience bloomed, requests for assistance and support have increased. The reason is that people go for the path of least resistance, and expect customer care and support through the platforms they use most. Yet more than just creating a social presence, successful businesses will adapt to the unique needs of the channel – giving people what they want rather than what brands think they need.
Add Life to Your Emails
The way some people talk about email as a channel, you’d think it’s the new Lazarus. First it’s alive, then it’s dead, and then it’s back again. In reality, the results from email are only as lively as your strategies – and what many companies are doing is pretty stale.
Whether its outbound sales or customer retention, consumers crave personalization. How personal do you need to get? A study from a few years ago found that 75% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if brands include the following three conditions in their messages:
- Customers are addressed by name
- Recommendations are based on past purchases
- The brand remembers a customer’s purchase history
As data gathering machines, companies have this information available – contact center agents just need the ability to access this data.
Sephora is an example of what it’s like to be on the money with email marketing. More than treating personalization as lip service, they dig deep into their customer’s purchase and search history. With that knowledge, they make email recommendations that satisfy customer preferences and complement their natural characteristics. Harness your data like Sephora, and you’ll reap an incredible ROI from your email campaigns.
Harness the Power of Live Chat
These days, customers expect live chat as part of the total package. Though more companies are using this channel, there still isn’t thorough comprehension of live chat best practices. 47% of consumers haven’t had a positive live chat experience in the last month.
What’s the cause? Often, brands opt for speed over efficiency. As many as 95% of consumers express a desire for thorough, high-quality service rather than speedy delivery. Companies that train their agents to address customer concerns in a comprehensive way will foster a better customer experience.
Beyond answering customer questions, live chat is an impressive contributor to customer acquisition and increased sales. At least 38% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a company if they have live chat on their website. By engaging prospects with qualifying questions, your live chat agents can verify whether a person is ready to buy and direct them to the right salesperson.
Either way, live chat can enhance the end-to-end customer experience when it’s done well.
Pay Attention to SMS
As a channel, Short Message Services or SMS often gets overlooked. Yet companies that integrate SMS into their omnichannel experience can yield surprising results for their customer care and outbound sales service. Surveys find that 98% of consumers open texts from SMS campaigns compared to 20% of email campaigns. Though SMS is most useful as an outreach channel, there are specific areas in which you can use it to improve the customer experience.
One opportunity is through healthcare customer service solutions. No shows are not only bad for patient or member care outcomes, they reduce revenue and increase operational costs. Though consumers might screen calls or ignore emails, 90% of people open text within the first three minutes of receiving it. Plus, it demonstrates that your organization is engaged in their wellbeing, increasing the overall experience.
On the consumer side, SMS campaigns provide brands with an opportunity for their sales and offers to be seen. With the exponentially high open rates, you needn’t worry whether or not consumers are seeing your efforts. You just need to make your efforts count. The trick is to build a full understanding of the customer journey (from your CRM to social media and everything in between) and anticipate what your customers want next.
Go Back to Basics with Voice
With the expansion of customer contact channels, voice is now held to a higher standard. Younger generations increasingly hate talking over the phone. Even those generations that prefer voice channel interactions expect smooth and effective communication (i.e. limited transfers and first call resolution). Due to a history of poor customer experience, 7% of Americans have dropped traditional channels like voice in favor of newer channels. Yet there are ways your brand can fix the negative perception.
Every brand should be willing to audit their voice channel processes. Often, consumers find voice to be a complex maze, one that doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome on the first try. If you encounter frequent redirections in your audit, there’s an opportunity to increase the training of your agents to handle issues with fewer transfers. When agents are prepared to handle a range of common requests over-the-phone, your overall customer experience will rise.
Paying attention to each channel in its own right can boost the omnichannel’s performance. Yet one major takeaway from industry experts is that 45% of consumers don’t care about the channel as long as the service is efficient, meticulous, and prompt. In short, they want a seamless experience more than anything.
The truth is that your customers won’t always gravitate toward the same channels. For your business to deliver brand consistency, you need to start by breaking down siloes, defining processes, training your people, and creating continuity from one channel to the next. When consumers feel like you’re treating them like a person rather than disconnected interactions, then you’re going to deliver a more satisfying omnichannel customer experience.