What is Omnichannel Customer Service

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    In today’s technology-based environment, omnichannel customer service (OCS) is essential to providing a satisfying customer experience. Omnichannel customer service not only focuses on providing multiple channels of interaction with a customer, but also integrates those channels in such a way that customers can seamlessly transition from one channel to another in the same interaction.

    There are many channels that businesses can offer for customer support – voice, text, live chat, email, social media, and the list goes on. The goal of OCS is not to provide as many channels as possible, but to ensure quality of service and integration across those channels, no matter how many.

    Let’s look at an example of omnichannel customer service in action:

    Company X provides customer service through phone, live chat, and email channels. An agent is interacting with a customer through live chat, but is having trouble resolving the customer’s issue through that channel. Without omnichannel customer service, the agent may recommend that the customer ends the live chat and calls to speak with an agent over the phone. In this case, the customer essentially has to start a new interaction with a new agent.

    This can be a waste of time and a disjointed experience, leaving the customer feeling frustrated and unsatisfied, regardless of the issue being resolved.

    With omnichannel customer service, the agent conducting the live chat can pick up the phone and call the customer directly to continue the interaction with the added benefit of a live voice conversation. The customer doesn’t have to repeatedly explain the issue nor spend time switching from one channel to another.

    If the interaction leads to the request for more information, that same agent can email information to the customer, all while still on the phone to address questions. This results in a smooth customer experience, where the customer’s issue is resolved in one seamless interaction.

    Providing Omnichannel Customer Service

    Omnichannel customer service results in obvious benefits to the customer, as described in the example above.  But what has to happen on the backend for a business to ensure this kind of customer experience?

    Most importantly, customer service channels cannot operate in silos. True OCS means that agents are trained and able to handle multiple channels of communication concurrently. Not only does this allow an agent to use multiple channels in a single customer interaction, switching as needed, but it makes more efficient use of an agent’s time overall. For example, if there is a lull in phone calls, an agent can reply to emails or participate in a live chat during that time. This reduces agent downtime, as well as potential wait times for the customers.

    While customers may not know the term “omnichannel customer service”, they certainly appreciate the experience of getting exactly what they need, when they need it, through the method that is most convenient for them at any given moment.

    When it comes to providing this kind of experience for customers, businesses with an effective OCS strategy are significantly ahead of the game.