Advanced technologies, handheld devices, connected digital platforms and busy lifestyles are all changing the way consumers of today purchase products and access services. Modern consumers have become more tech-savvy and tech-dependent, demanding for more efficient and convenient ways to buy products, obtain services and get answers. To keep up with these changing demands, companies are looking toward solutions that provide seamless and effortless customer experiences across multiple platforms.
Bringing customer experience to new heights
Most companies today use a multi-channel approach in engaging with their customers. This means they use different platforms like email, social media, chat, and phone calls to interact with the consumers. In the multi-channel approach, communication takes place separately through various platforms, where there are no connected interactions between channels.
However, a shift from this approach is slowly spreading among today’s forward-looking companies, and merely using multiple channels for customer interaction is not enough to keep up with rising customer demands.
This is where the omnichannel customer service experience comes in. The omnichannel approach, like multi-channel, uses various platforms for customer engagement but takes the customer experience to a whole new level. It gathers all the information and data across multiple channels and integrates them to create a seamless customer journey, giving consumers the ability to start an activity using one platform and resume their activity through another platform.
In retail, for example, a shopper may research product information and compare prices using her iPad, check the availability of the item and purchase it through the retail store app in her mobile phone, and then choose for her item to be delivered to her house through a courier. She may then call the retail company’s customer service hotline to request for an item exchange, and then visit a store to have her item replaced instead of sending it back through a courier and waiting for the new item to be delivered.
On the other side of the spectrum, the retail company implements various solutions – such as information management, customer engagement, and location intelligence – that collect and collate customer data and behavior (i.e. what, when, and how consumers purchase). The company then analyzes and uses the gathered information to better understand consumer patterns and ultimately, provide a more personalized shopping and customer service experience for the customer.
The omnichannel customer service experience does not only apply to retail businesses, but extends into other industries as well including finance, healthcare and even in government institutions. Consumers increasingly expect to receive an omnichannel experience in every interaction, whether it is with a private corporation or a public institution.
Customer experience touch points are expected to cross over offline and online channels. Consumers expect company representatives across all channels – whether an in-store staff, a customer service representative over the phone or a live chat support agent via the website – to have access to and be aware of their issues and past interactions.
Instead of having to “start from scratch” every time they switch platforms in a multi-channel system and repeat their issues to different agents or representatives, consumers are constantly looking for ways to make their experience as seamless and effortless as possible in whatever platform they choose.
Overcoming challenges by changing mindsets and structures
There is also a need for the aggregation of disconnected systems and disparate applications so that customer data and information can be automatically integrated. This will ensure that consumers receive an efficient, consistent and optimized service regardless of their chosen channel.
Businesses switching from their current single-channel or multi-channel approach to omnichannel may find themselves face to face with overwhelming challenges. Siloed structures and applications are one of the biggest challenges that businesses and organizations have today, with individual departments focusing only on their respective roles and responsibilities: physical stores are for selling products and services, call centers are for answering queries and resolving complaints, digital is for advertising and marketing, and so on.
However, in the omnichannel approach, different departments work together and share information and strategies with one another instead of being standalone units to provide customers with the best experience they can possibly offer.
Shifting to omnichannel through integrated solutions
As the future of customer service in all industries, omnichannel technologies are designed to collect and analyze consumer data across all channels of communications, whether in business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. These technologies enable companies to learn more about the behaviors and patterns of their customers, allowing them to create targeted marketing and advertising strategies. The seamless feel of transactions across various platforms will also help to better retain existing customers and attract new ones.
The omnichannel customer experience may still be long ways away from being perfect but it is definitely the future of the consumer-provider relationship, and businesses who are already investing in this strategy are ideally positioned to move ahead of their competitors.
Regarded as the specialists in customer service interactions, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) organizations, specifically contact/call centers, find themselves at the front and center of the omnichannel shift. Some businesses that are switching to omnichannel customer service turn to BPO companies for these processes in order to save on costs that organizational changes and business model upgrades may bring.
An expert in providing quality customer engagement and other outsourcing services, Infinit-O is constantly looking for the newest in integrated technologies and solutions in order to assist their clients in overcoming the challenges of today’s world. Infinit-O is helping its clients achieve their goals by leveraging in the latest trends and technologies in the world of customer service.