The evolution of omnichannel with customer service

By Russell Lux
Russell Lux, CEO at TelcoSwitch, discusses the changing status of the customer services industry, and how omnichannel communications must change with it

 

 

The massive growth in online shopping has led to a sustained change in the way customers interact with businesses, as they adopt a growing number of communication channels and expect queries to be answered faster than ever before. This in turn has raised the stakes as far as omnichannel capabilities are concerned, and businesses need to adapt quickly. 

Traditional methods for customers to interact with businesses – such as phone or email – remain popular, but consumer preferences are now more diverse than ever before. This is the key consideration for organisations as they develop their omnichannel offerings for the future: the companies that embrace flexibility are the ones that will succeed. 

A new breed of customer, a new breed of agent

 

It has been a long time since the only way for customers to speak to a company was by walking into a store or picking up the phone. Consumers are now inundated with choice: they can still talk to someone in person if they wish, but other widely used channels include webchat, social media platforms or WhatsApp.  

It’s also common for customers to move between channels throughout the course of a single transaction: a pre-purchase conversation might take place in Facebook Messenger where a consumer has engaged with an ad, and that conversation might switch to phone or email depending on the nature of the enquiry. Not all conversations can be effectively concluded on the channel they started on, and managing and tracking that transition can be complicated for those businesses struggling to keep up with the multitude of platforms available.

As far as the customer service function itself is concerned, the days of contact centres purely being big banks of desks with agents speaking on phones are over. Instead, this is being replaced with remote workers (which introduces its own challenges across scalability, security, and compliance) and a need to converse with customers across the aforementioned multitude of platforms.

Without the right tools in place to manage these channels and properly integrate them with CRM and other underlying systems, the customer experience won’t be nearly as sharp as it needs to be. To meet these challenges, omnichannel technologies need to take another leap forward in sophistication and efficiency.

 

Change is upon us, and omnichannel must adapt

 

Omnichannel has been talked about for a long time, but the pandemic has moved the goalposts considerably, accelerating trends that before 2020 were developing at a much steadier pace. Now, customers expect more, they expect it faster, and they expect businesses to communicate on their terms. 

With this in mind, companies need to evaluate the channels that align to their customers, and seek out solutions that help their agents support those customers both pre-and post-purchase to ensure they deliver the best experience. If, for example, an organisation doesn’t yet offer social media or WhatsApp-based interaction, now is the time to work out how to implement them. 

Just as crucial as introducing new channels is having the tools to properly integrate them into an overarching omnichannel strategy. These tools should be able to unify any communication channel regardless of its type, and enable customer service staff to view all current and past interactions on a single dashboard. This way, businesses can ensure a joined-up experience for customers despite the plethora of channels available to them.

Achieve customer satisfaction, achieve omnichannel success 

 

It’s a challenging time for businesses, but it’s an exciting time too. As the economy recovers from the pandemic, there are so many opportunities to engage with new customers and access new revenue streams. As long as organisations strive to reach these new levels of omnichannel proficiency, they will be able to deliver great customer experiences and showcase their products and services to a much wider audience. 

 

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