We live in a world of instant gratification. Consumers expect to be able to contact your brand anywhere, anytime. In fact, Kustomer research revealed 83% of consumers think they should be able to contact customer service on any channel they want. With that mind, their needs must be immediately recognized, and they demand high-quality results on the channels that are most convenient in their greatest times of need. But true omnichannel support is more than simply communicating with customers on every channel.
It’s also important to meet consumers on the channels they prefer. Consider that 64% of consumers now report they enjoy talking to customer service via the same channels they communicate with family and friends on. This means brands must prioritize their customer support strategies for channels like social media and messaging apps. Read on to learn the difference between omnichannel vs. multichannel support, and how an omnichannel approach can transform your level of service.
What’s the Difference Between Multichannel Customer Support and Omnichannel Customer Support?
Let’s clear the air – multichannel support is not omnichannel support. Unfortunately, the terms have almost become interchangeable, with many companies and technology providers conflating the two. While both are necessary for customer support, and meeting the expectations of your consumers, their goals and expected outcomes are different in the customer support realm.
What Is Omnichannel Customer Support?
Omnichannel support is providing consistent service across communication channels that allow one conversation to start where the other ends, no matter what channel a customer or agent is on. This approach to service is more focused on integrating a collaborative and seamless transition and consistent experience from one channel to the next. Omnichannel customer service grants agents the ability to easily loop in others, drive stronger, more meaningful customer engagement, increase revenue streams and improve operational performance.
While the end goal of this support strategy is to meet your customers’ needs on any channel, your agents are responsible for executing the customer service strategy you set in place. Omnichannel customer support gives you the ability to harness your customer data to deliver contextual support and improve customer satisfaction. Systems such as omnichannel customer experience CRM can help unify data and make it easily accessible for your support team across your channels, which in turn can help enable omnichannel support.
What Is Multichannel Customer Support?
Multichannel support simply means offering consumers more than one method for contacting customer service. This kind of support is focused on giving your customers support over more than one channel. These channels include phone, email, live chat, social media or even text. While multichannel customer support has its positives for customers, such as being able to access help anywhere a customer would like, it also has its cons, such as having to constantly restate problems rather than picking up where they left off.
Why Multichannel Support Isn’t Sufficient
In a multichannel support environment, each channel lives in its own silo with its own dedicated team of agents. There is limited communication or sharing of information between channels. Most of the time, when a customer contacts a company, the team manning that support channel will create a ticket. If the customer then contacts the company through a different channel about the same issue, a second ticket will be created with each team working on their respective tickets. For example, if a customer had spoken to an agent first on live chat and now via email, the chat team and email team would have no record of each other’s conversations with the customer.
As a result of this fragmented experience, customers will have to take the time to repeat to the second agent what they told the first agent. In addition, multichannel customer service leads companies to focus on resolving tickets, rather than building stronger customer relationships, because agents lack a holistic view of each customer.
What Are the Benefits of Omnichannel Support?
Omnichannel support can benefit your business exponentially and help your customers feel more valued through their interactions with your organization. Implementing this kind of support means you’re prioritizing customers’ time and capitalizing on every connection in order to better understand their needs and prepare for future interactions. And — importantly — it means you’re considering future revenue opportunities. Here are the positives to consider when considering an omnichannel customer service strategy:
Preventing Agent Collision Drives Consistent Resolution
With an omnichannel support strategy, agent collision never occurs. Communication channels are integrated, so agents can view the conversation and maintain context even as they engage through multiple channels. A single answer to the issue or question at hand is all but certain, and the consistency of the seamless experience keeps customers from becoming frustrated and switching to the competition.
Consistent Support Creates Loyalty and Increases Lifetime Value
By experiencing consistently positive and helpful outcomes that require less effort, customers anticipate that future experiences with your company will be just as seamless, increasing loyalty and paving the way for future business. As customer interactions become more frequent and their sentiment toward your brand increases, a virtuous cycle of positive interactions occurs that leads to additional sales.
How Omnichannel Support Elevates Your Service
Omnichannel support, by comparison, shifts the perspective from ticket resolution to customer relationship building. Customers have the freedom to move between channels throughout their engagement and are guaranteed consistency, so each conversation starts where the last ended. True omnichannel support requires:
✓ Being available on any channel the customer wants to use to contact the company
✓ A customer-centric not ticket-centric approach to support
✓ Enabling customers and agents to freely move across channels throughout a single conversation
✓ Placing each customer in touch with the most appropriate resource as quickly as possible to ensure consistency and quality
✓ Contact center agents to have a real-time view into the conversations that occur on all the available channels, so they have context of the issue, without needing the customer to repeat any information
Omnichannel support, if executed properly, provides a consistent experience for customers at every touchpoint after acquisition. Unfortunately, many companies struggle to create this type of service environment because sharing data between channels takes a technological overhaul. But the benefits far outweigh the costs, and the right omnichannel strategy will succeed by maximizing the resources you have without overextending them.
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