To improve availability, a lot of modern companies are fully focusing on omnichannel communication.
That’s because it is becoming increasingly important to score an A on availability. As a company, you are expected to be reachable everywhere. The times where you can survive with just a phone number and an email address are far behind us. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, you name it; there is no way around these platforms any longer.
And be warned: just being visible on these channels is not enough. You also have to actively interact with your customers on there.
The bar for customer service moves up higher and higher with these expectations. Customers are more critical than ever when it comes to customer experience. Companies that don’t change accordingly get left behind.
In order to get deeper into the biggest advantages of omnichannel communication, first, we’ll have to dive into the meaning of the term omnichannel.
With an omnichannel strategy, you create a strong customer experience via different channels. Wherever the customer finds you, on whichever channel, the experience doesn’t derail. The customer journey should feel, smell, sound and look the same on each channel. This should count for touchpoints such as:
- Social media
- Physical store
- Website with a live chat
What is the difference between omnichannel and multichannel?
The biggest chunk of all today’s companies still use the multichannel approach. In this case, a company can have a physical store, a website and a blog, for example.
But the customer journey isn’t the same on every single channel. This is mostly because the tone-of-voice, messaging, design or service isn’t consistent on all platforms.
A good example of this is a clothing brand with a fresh new website, but an old physical store that looks like it was never touched since the 70s.
Or a bank with a super tight customer service via phone and email, that responds a week late on Facebook Messenger. When they do finally respond, they say: “Please send us an email.”
With omnichannel communication, all channels connect seamlessly. This also counts for the way your customer service teams communicate with customers. The experience has to feel as one everywhere and every time.
Example of omnichannel communication
In order to illustrate what omnichannel communication looks like, I’ll give you an example.
Customer A finds your business on Twitter and decides to send you a DM (personal message on Twitter). After the DM conversation, customer A is curious and decides to check out your website. He has a question about certain product specifications and uses your live chat. After ordering the product, he gets an email to confirm his order. When the product ends up being broken when it gets ordered, he contacts you via WhatsApp and phone. After the reparation, he gets a text saying that his product is all good and can be picked up.
If all these channels create a seamless customer experience that feels like one, you can call this example a true omnichannel experience.
How do you create an omnichannel experience?
Mission and vision
Start with your organization’s mission and vision. If you don’t have that in writing yet, you should devote some time to getting it down. What is it that you really want to achieve and how can omnichannel communication contribute?
Next, write down what the main message should be, which core values should be communicated and what the tone-of-voice should be.
When you have thought this through completely, the rest of the process will be way less complicated.
Now that you have that out of the way, you can start by creating your omnichannel strategy. In order to develop this, you will need assistance from many different internal departments. Most importantly sales, marketing, customer service and product.
Clearly communicate what the goal is of your omnichannel strategy because it’s not easy to get everybody on the same track. That’s why it should be clear that the entire company will profit from this approach.
After that, you map out the customer journey. On which channels are you currently active? Where are your customers? Which channels fit specific parts of the customer journey, and how do the channels interact with each other? Make sure that each channel has a specific reason for existing and adds value to the customer journey.
Omnichannel communication software
Since your customer service team will have to work in so many different channels, chances are things will get a little chaotic. Without the right software, you might run into the following issues:
- You put a lot of time and effort into clicking in between platforms (from Facebook to email, from email to Twitter, from Twitter to LinkedIn, etc.)
- You forget to regularly check on channels and miss out on important interactions
- When customers repeatedly contact you via different channels, they have to reintroduce themselves every single time
- It’s impossible to manage all your customer contacts because everything is spread out
Because new communication channels are gaining popularity, using them on the side is no longer an option. When you choose to be active on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, for example, you will have to invest real time and effort.
Luckily, you can use an omnichannel inbox. These are made especially for companies who are active on multiple channels.
Advantages of an omnichannel inbox
By connecting all of your communication channels to one inbox, you have a central station to work from. This can save your team a lot of time. No more clicking from platform to platform to look for incoming messages.
You can also create customer profiles for customers who contact you via different channels. For instance, when a customer emails and calls you, you can put their phone number and email address in 1 profile. When the customer contacts you later via either channel, you will immediately get insight into all earlier interactions.
This will save both you and your customers a lot of time and effort. If there’s one thing that customers hate, it is having to explain themselves over. Especially when they get in contact with different employees at a big company. An omnichannel inbox avoids these situations and impresses the customer.
Every customer service team needs great collaboration in order to be effective. This is already the case when you’re only using phone and email. But with more channels, it gets almost impossible to manage. Think about it:
- Who is responsible for which channel?
- How do you internally communicate about customer cases?
- Who responds to which message?
- How do you know somebody is responding?
With an omnichannel team inbox, these problems are in the past. It becomes easy to pick up or delegate incoming messages. When a message has been picked up, you know that one of your colleagues is already on the case. This makes your operation way more efficient.
Communicating internally is also much easier. This is because you can finally say goodbye to the horror called ‘internal emails’. You can chat with your colleagues inside the inbox, right underneath incoming messages. All without your customers noticing anything.
Your business looks more professional
With a tight omnichannel strategy, your entire organization will look more professional. If your organization’s communication is inconsistent, it will be harder for potential customers to place their trust in you.
Many customers do a little research before they decide to buy something from your company. They do this by checking out different channels. They look for reasons to either trust or distrust you. If you reply quickly via live chat but don’t reply at all via Facebook, this doesn’t look professional.
A good customer experience is the best marketing
An omnichannel inbox makes it possible to deliver a tight customer experience. Customers want better service than ever and will tell their friends about if they receive it.
That’s why companies are investing more in anything directly concerning the customer. The budget that used to go to online advertising, is now being put into software or training of personnel.
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