July 27, 2017
In the world of customer service and contact/call centers, there are a few terms that have arisen in the past few years that are vitally important. Two of those terms are Omnichannel and the Age of the Customer, and they are linked. Truly, omnichannel is a response and the best way to navigate through the Age of the Customer, but why? Why must customer service change strategies that have worked for decades? Why does omnichannel matter?
Welcome to the Age of the Customer
We are living in a period known as the Age of the Customer. In short, this simply means that the customer calls the shots in the customer experience. The internet and global economies have reduced the traditional roadblocks that stood in the way of business success.
Everyone has access to a logistical infrastructure to affordably ship products around the country or abroad. Everyone has access to the online community to reach customers outside their geographic area. Everyone has access to digital resources to make the researching and buying process simple and clear.
The playing field is far more level in certain areas than it was during, say, the industrial revolution when factories and logistics determined business success.
In this business climate, the company that can provide the best customer experience is going to win the day, and the data supports it.
- 67% of consumers cite a bad customer experience as a primary reason for choosing a different company in the future.
- 39% of consumers will then avoid that vendor for over two years after a negative experience
- 86% of consumers will pay up to 25% more on a product with a superior customer experience
Why Omnichannel Matters
Omnichannel strategy is a response to the Age of the Customer. It’s being demanded by consumers even if they don’t quite know the term for what they want, and in a climate where the customer holds the power, delivering on this demand will pay dividends. Additionally, the fact that it is not universally practiced among contact/call centers today further increases its usefulness and effect. It’s an excellent way to differentiate your customer experience from your competitors and gain an edge.
Omnichannel itself literally means “all channels” and is distinct from another related customer experience term called multi-channel. The word channels in both these cases refers to channels of communication between the business and the customer.
Wherein a multi-channel contact center may have a live chat tool, voice, video, online webforms, an IVR, and a social media presence, these are all separate and distinct avenues of communication. If a customer sends a message to the company’s facebook page and then later calls the contact/center directly, the agent on the phone may have no knowledge that this message ever occurred. The voice channel and the social media channel are siloed, separate, and require the customer to repeat themselves in each new channel and start from the beginning.
Omnichannel strategy tears these walls down to create a unified customer experience regardless of their preferred method of communication. Keeping with our Facebook message and voice example, that customer would call into the contact/call center and reach an agent who is made immediately aware of the customer’s prior interactions with the brand. This may take the form of a screen pop, a whisper message, or some other tool. The point is that the agent has the full story on hand no matter where the dialogue occurs.
Again, the data supports the success of these strategies:
- Businesses with omnichannel strategies have 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates than businesses who don’t according to a survey by Aspect Software.
At the end of the day, that’s what really matters, and that is why Omnichannel matters. It helps businesses today retain more customers, simple as that.
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