The Covid Pandemic brought about sweeping changes in the way we do almost everything—including how we shop and interact with the brands behind the products we purchase. Businesses implementing omnichannel contact center software enjoy customer retention rates as high as 89%. That rate is only 33% for businesses that have failed to provide an adequate omnichannel customer experience.
Companies are now tasked with meeting the communication needs of their customers in significantly different environments and in markedly different ways. As always, adaption is critical. Robust omnichannel customer engagement strategies, which may have been seen as somewhat optional in the past, are now a clear necessity.
As consumers adjust to the realities and requirements of a changing and somewhat unpredictable environment, there are corresponding shifts in their preferences and behaviors. Businesses must accommodate these changing needs to retain their customers and remain successful.
Adapting to Rapidly Changing Consumer Preferences
Consumer preferences have always been variable, and while broad trends could historically be predicted with some measure of accuracy over time, the unpredictable (and unforeseen) changes of the past few years have highlighted the importance of facilitating customer communication and interaction across a growing number of both new and traditional channels.
The need to support omnichannel customer engagement has increased significantly and more rapidly than anyone would have guessed. In the past, contact center operations focused on customer satisfaction and customer experience as it related primarily to in-store experience and engagement. The Covid Pandemic changed this dramatically, driving consumers online in numbers that could never have been predicted in the pre-pandemic world.
Online Commerce Calls for Omnichannel Strategies
Brands that fail to address the changes in the nature of consumer interaction and customer experience caused by the dramatic increase in the volume of online commerce do so at their peril. Failure to meet these new challenges with new strategies brings substantial risk.
As consumers turn toward socially distant purchasing options, workforce management systems must increasingly focus on optimizing customer experiences across significantly different channels than those used just a few years ago. New solutions are required if call centers adequately meet changing consumer expectations.
Adapting to New Realities
Companies must develop omnichannel business communication strategies regardless of the business or industry sector. These strategies must address the present-day needs of their customers while being flexible and customizable enough to adapt to changes in how consumers may relate to their brand, their products, and their customer service offerings in the future. Choosing the right call center software is critical.
The call center of the pre-pandemic world is making way for a multichannel contact center approach and customer engagement strategies that rely on multiple avenues of communication and support. Though the need for these changes may have arrived sooner (and with more urgency) than many analysts would have predicted, they bring with them advantages and opportunities that do more than merely address these new challenges.
The Benefits of Omnichannel Call Centers
Commerce and customer engagement have long been expected to shift toward a more digital-centric, omnichannel center solution. However, customers face new realities, and COVID-era necessities, such as social distancing, have led to new outlooks, expectations, and habits.
Consumers in this new environment are most comfortable seeking support through mobile and online channels and now expect—if not demand—a primarily digital customer service experience. Greater than 60% of today’s shoppers say they turn to self-guided service channels through apps like Facebook Messenger and other forms of text-based web chat and favor communication through social media platforms and other online self-service options.
Customizable Solutions for Shifting Expectations
In the past, consumers may have relied on phone calls to a brand’s contact center, but savvy contact center managers who wish to ensure a high-value customer experience will adjust to changes in consumer preferences by implementing strategies built around customizable omnichannel contact center solutions.
A traditional call center may have generally handled customer support and service needs with the kind of omnichannel call center software that was only slightly more sophisticated than automatic call distributor solutions. These solutions generally did little more than route inbound and outbound calls and provided only rudimentary support for a limited number of digital communication channels.
Before Covid, many businesses may have seen an omnichannel strategy as something of a luxury or only appropriate for brands that catered to technologically savvy consumers who were comfortable with online-centric customer service options. This is no longer the case.
Accommodating Changing Consumer Preferences
Contact centers that utilize omnichannel platforms can now present a more tailored customer experience, allowing customers to communicate on whichever specific channel they feel most comfortable with. These new omnichannel call center solutions not only cater to customer preference but also prevent the need for transferred calls. Customers who are seeking support are free from having to repeat specific information to multiple customer support agents.
Omnichannel call centers allow customers to seek support whenever they wish through any medium that suits their immediate needs. The nature of omnichannel support preserves communication and enables support agents to access data the customer has provided regardless of which channel or channels they have utilized.
Seamless Support Experience Across Channels
Customers are empowered to switch communication channels seamlessly from phone to email or SMS, or across social media platforms or web-based chat solutions as they wish. By retaining and synchronizing customer data, omnichannel provides support staff with information critical to successfully resolving any customer issues. A support agent will instantly be able to know if a customer is on their first call or has needed to reach out multiple times to resolve an issue and can tailor the response they provide accordingly.
Omnichannel also decreases hold times while simultaneously increasing first call resolution rates, which drives increased customer satisfaction. This, in turn, increases brand recognition and prestige while also providing benefits in the retention of existing customers and the acquisition of new customers.
Customer call center managers are finding that omnichannel solutions that fit the specific needs of their consumer base provide high consistency of customer experience across platforms. This empowers the customer to more quickly find the information or support that they need.
Businesses that have successfully implemented customer support solutions based on omnichannel communication strategies have customer retention rates 91% greater than that seen by companies who have not yet bridged the gap between increasingly popular digital channels and the more traditional in-store consumer experience.
Adaptable Support Opportunities
An omnichannel contact center handles customer interactions and customer data across multiple channels, enabling your customer support team to provide a truly exceptional customer experience. By unifying different channels such as phone calls, SMS, email, webchat, and social media channels, your customer service agents can capture salient customer details and move conversations across your call center while ensuring consistent experience and enhanced quality management.
Successful contact center operation entails answering trouble tickets, responsive chat interaction, or routing inbound and outbound calls to the appropriate service channels. An effective omnichannel strategy encompasses communication channels such as live chat support, mobile engagement through click-to-call links, and support requests through social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook Messenger—but that’s not all.
Optimizing Omnichannel Customer Experience
Omnichannel contact center software relies on advanced features to provide a seamless customer experience across all of your organization’s communication channels while simultaneously enabling contact center managers to monitor and optimize employee productivity. Traditional call center software relied on relatively basic features, in some cases handling little more than simple call recording or providing a rudimentary ability to route calls from self-service options presented to the customer.
As customer service channels proliferate across a growing number of platforms, a successful customer service strategy must do more than account for each novel communication channel. Effective performance management dictates that omnichannel contact centers provide greater customer service function. This ensures a more personalized customer experience through holistic workforce management that draws on contact center software with specialized features that creates authentic data-driven customer context.
Omnichannel Contact Center Strategies in Action
If a customer has a support issue, they may first choose to find a self-service solution, turning to resources like online knowledge bases or support pages on your company website. If they are unsuccessful in finding a resolution there, they may wish to interact directly with support staff.
They may turn to web-based chat apps to explain the issue they’re having or may wish instead to send an email or seek assistance through SMS communication from their mobile device. In the past, if they used several different options or sought help for the same problem at different times, the relevant information they may have provided would generally not be retained or would not be accessible to different support agents working from different locations.
Solving Multi-Channel Communication Challenges
Omnichannel customer experience strategies solve these problems by unifying how customer communication is collected, stored, and made available to support agents. When a customer turns to your omnichannel call center for help, it doesn’t matter if they have used email, webchat, or interacted with a live agent.
Omnichannel solutions configured to work across any of the support channels you offer your customers will store relevant information like the customer’s purchase history, data applicable to the issue they are looking to resolve, a record of the support options they have already tried, and even transcripts of online chats or phone conversations.
Faster Resolution of Customer Support Issues
Knowing what resources a customer has already accessed and what solutions they may have already tried enables support agents to avoid redundant effort, saving the customer’s time and leading to a faster and more satisfying resolution. Customers will not have to repeat the specifics of their support needs, and your support staff can resume assistance efforts wherever their colleagues may have left off.
Unifying omnichannel communication in a way that is seamless or “invisible” to the customer enables your support staff to meet or exceed customer expectations and resolve any issues as quickly and completely as possible.
Customers typically engage with three to five different support channels while trying to resolve an issue, and 86% of surveyed consumers expect service request communications to persist across a company’s available support channels with no loss of information.
Providing Consistent Communication Across Channels
Presenting consumers with consistent support efforts in an omnichannel setting is critical to their satisfaction with your product and your brand. Customers want to feel comfortable with support UI and expect to be able to access support through any available channel. If they can’t find resources or are unfamiliar with the way information is presented, they may experience frustration and dissatisfaction.
A truly omnichannel solution that has been customized to fit both your support resources and your customer’s needs will lead to a faster, more thorough resolution of customer complaints. A successful solution utilizes consistent design elements, language, and user interface functionality across all channels. Conversations that are stored, synched, and made available to all support staff ensure the customer experience is seamless and continues to build on previous efforts to find help with an issue.
Optimizing Omnichannel Support
Omnichannel call centers can provide an array of customizable reports and analytical data in real-time and preserve that data across support incidents. Critical KPI data such as first call resolution rate, call length, hold time, customer churn, and even overall customer satisfaction ratings can be used to provide robust insight into the efficacy and overall quality of your customer support and highlight opportunities for improvement.
Support agent activity data can be collected and analyzed to ascertain which support staff may need more training and can be used to identify top performers or discover productivity metrics that can be used to tune and improve your support offerings. Omnichannel solutions can automate the collection and analysis of any relevant data and transmit reports to appropriate managerial staff at customizable intervals.
Providing Customized Omnichannel Assistance
Many customers will choose to seek help in different ways for different issues or at different times of the day. Omnichannel call center solutions allow a customer to connect with a support agent right away however they desire, even in high-volume support environments. By providing well-organized support options across channels, you enable staff to interact with customers in an on-demand basis transparently.
Ozonetel packs all the tools you could ever need to improve service levels within an affordable, easy to integrate, quick to set up call center solution. Contact us to learn more about configurable omnichannel contact center solutions that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of your customers.