Today’s consumers are used to getting texts from their local pizza parlours, instant messages from their accountants, emails from their housekeepers and phone calls from their repair people.As a result, they’ve grown used to flexible communications they can use how they want, when they want. That’s why savvy companies need to ensure they have a seamless, integrated omnichannel solution to offer truly competitive customer service. Here are four tips to help you do so successfully:
1. Your communications need to actually communicate
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to repeat yourself – especially if you’re confused or irritated. When customers contact a company about a product, it’s often because they have a question or complaint, which they expect you to handle as efficiently as possible. The last thing they want is to repeatedly explain their issue or restate their question to agent after agent – and to be honest, they shouldn’t have to.
To avoid this predicament, it’s critical that you seamlessly link your channels of communication, so everyone in your service organisation is always on the same page. That way, when customers ask a question in an email, the agents staffing your chat client or phones will be just as prepared to answer it when they follow up.
The best way to keep customer interactions streamlined is to use a single, centralised platform to track and assign incoming queries. A platform minimises the chance you’ll lose or misdirect a customer communication and keeps the entire service process moving faster – which is more important than ever. In fact, a study showed that speed of service is the number one factor affecting customer satisfaction.
2. Really know your audience (and what they want)
As great as it is to offer service options, your company resources aren’t limitless. It isn’t always viable to offer phone, chat and text support, all at once. That means you need to be strategic about which offerings you decide to invest in.
Before you make that decision, run an audit of your customer base to get an indication of how they might prefer to communicate. Do incoming queries tend to be fairly complex? If so, then telephone support or chat might be more effective than email in getting to the heart of the matter quickly. Are your customers super-busy helping their customers? In that case, a text or email – that spares them from spending time on the phone – might be a better option.
Good customer service means taking cues from your users. If most of your incoming queries come through a certain channel, then it doesn’t take a psychic to figure out that’s probably the channel your customers prefer to use – assuming it’s not the only option available. If you invest in building out that channel over time to test your hypothesis, you’ll stay laser-focused on supporting customers exactly the way they want you to.
3. Play to your (employees’) strengths
More options for your customers actually means more options for your employees as well. One of the most overlooked advantages of an omnichannel customer service system is that it gives service employees the flexibility to interact with customers in multiple ways. In fact, this approach can turn employees into customer service superstars by using the communication channel that caters to their specific strengths.
Another study found that switching to an omnichannel solution boosted employee morale by an astounding 82 percent, on average. And being able to rotate between channels also creates a more stimulating work environment that lets agents enjoy the same benefit as customers – the ability to communicate the way they want.
Creating a flexible environment where customer service reps can choose from multiple roles rather than only specific assigned ones also helps them perform better and engage more actively with customers. And if they’re more engaged, employees are not only more productive, they’re also more likely to stick around longer, reducing turnover and ultimately cutting costs.
4. Take lots of notes – about everything
It almost goes without saying that effectively tracking customer interactions makes for better case-by-case customer service and a better long-term strategy. With immediate access to customers’ histories, your agents are more informed, always up-to-date and able to help – quickly.
It also means you can track trends in customer engagement over time. Which channels are the most popular? Do certain channels attract specific types of engagement? For example, do you get more product questions via phone but more customer feedback through email? Logging and analyzing customer engagement across all your channels can provide key insight into your customers, your company and your product. And that information lets you adjust your strategy when necessary so you can stay ahead of the curve (and your customers).
A well-executed omnichannel customer service solution will help your business stay relevant, keep your customers satisfied, and even make your employees happier. But as the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and creating a well-oiled omnichannel strategy takes time. Use one or more of these tips to get started, and it won’t be long before you’re on the way to magnificent customer – and business – success.
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As featured on the Salesforce Blog