What is Omnichannel Customer Service

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    [Updated January 22, 2022]

    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 multichannels in such a way that customers can seamlessly transition from one channel to another in the same interaction.

    There are many channels that businesses and brands can offer for customer support – voice, SMS or text, live chat, email, social media, chatbot, mobile app, and the list of widgets, tools, Artificial Intelligence machines and self-service bots goes on. The goal of OCS is not to provide as many digital channels or platforms as possible, but to ensure quality of service and integration across those channels or devices, no matter how many.

    Let’s look at an example of omnichannel customer service in action to give you some context: 

    Travel Company X provides customer service and engagement through phone, live chat, and email channels. An agent is interacting with a customer through live web chat, but is having trouble resolving the customer’s problem through that touchpoint. Without omnichannel customer service, the agent may recommend that the customer ends the live chat and calls to speak with an agent over their smartphone. In this case, the customer essentially has to start a new interaction with a new call centre agent, which is not at all the best practice, strategy or process if you want to deliver excellent customer service.

    This can be a waste of time and a disjointed experience, leaving the customer feeling frustrated and unsatisfied, regardless of the issue being resolved. Failure to provide a good customer experience and offer some type of resolution can also lead to product churning and more customers not buying anymore from you.

    But with omnichannel customer service, the agent conducting the live chat can pick up the phone and call the customer directly to continue the interaction and gather important data or insight with the added benefit of a live voice conversation and personalized approach. The customer doesn’t have to repeatedly explain the issue about your retail product or service nor spend time switching from one channel to another and dealing with a different employee every single time.

    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. Overall, omnichannel customer service rewards your company with improved customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, marketing strategy,  and increased sales and revenue.

    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 business operations 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 and on a real-time basis. Not only does this allow an agent to use multichannels 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, blog post comments and website inquiries, attend to queries on Facebook Messenger or Twitter, 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 in the United States and elsewhere with an effective OCS strategy are significantly ahead of the game.