Seamless Omnichannel Customer Service: Time to Separate Fact from Fiction

By Catherine DeStasio | November 26, 2019
Customer Service Fact or Fiction

With every service channel you open, you’re offering more convenience and choice. But your customers will expect all options to reflect your best service levels and efficiency. If systems are riddled with siloed data sources and unintegrated applications, customers will likely get vastly different experiences from one channel to the next.

So, let’s be clear: adding channels isn’t automatically a direct route to better customer experience. The hard truth is you’ll never meet customer demands until your service teams and technology work together.

With all the information circulating about the benefits of omnichannel contact center solutions, here’s some clarification to separate the facts from fiction.

Fact: Most Companies Struggle with Omnichannel Customer Service

Businesses have an increasing selection of new applications to implement—from mobile apps to chatbots to self-service powered by artificial intelligence (AI). You may have added some of these to your own service offerings, but have you invested in ensuring every application contributes to an overall harmonious customer experience?

If not, you aren’t alone. According to a survey of more than 3,000 consumers by Vanson Bourne for Serenova, 80% have dealt with uneven service across channels. These numbers reveal how challenging it can be to ensure that mobile apps, websites, text, chat, email and agent desktops operate as one coordinated system.

Fact: Most Consumers Are Using Multiple Channels

According to the Vanson Bourne survey, most people are using multiple service channels. When asked what channels they typically use, 90% of them turn to the company website for service and 55% use mobile apps.

But regardless of their favorites, 68% say they use more than one channel for a single brand, so they notice when information isn’t integrated for a seamless experience. That means service inconsistencies are annoying a healthy percentage of your customers.

Fact: Seamless, Omnichannel Customer Service Pays

Research has long associated strong customer experience with financial health. American Express reports that US consumers will spend 17% more with companies that have excellent service. Millennials are even more generous, lavishing 21% more revenue on service leaders. The Vanson Bourne research confirms this trend, finding that 73% of respondents consider seamless interactions across channels very important or absolutely crucial to their satisfaction.

The stakes are even higher with social media because it amplifies the impact of good or bad service. If customers are on Facebook asking for support and don’t get a response, they broadcast their frustration over the same channel. On the other hand, if they love your service, the likes, follows and positive comments bolster your credibility.

Fact: Customers Most Often Notice Differences in Speed and Quality of Service

Respondents to the Vanson Bourne survey say they are most annoyed by variances in service speed and quality. Thirty-nine percent recall experiencing different speed of service and 30% remember grappling with different service levels across channels. Those experiences stand out for customers and lower their opinion of a company.

Many organizations have struggled to provide the same speed of service over digital communications as they have for traditional call centers. They’re still learning how to staff for chat, texts, Facebook and Twitter interactions. For example, while most contact centers strive to answer 80% of calls in 20 seconds, a recent survey found that 62% of companies never respond to emails.

Service levels will necessarily differ a bit across channels because some requests are too complex or sensitive for a web app or chatbot to handle. But you can still provide consistency by defining user interface and feature standards across channels. It’s also important to set customer expectations with respect to what they can accomplish via web or mobile apps.

Fact: The Right Tools Smooth Out the Discord

Companies that have mastered the seamless, omnichannel experience rely on tools that track consumer interactions and integrate data across channels. For example, Disney, which has built an international business on exceptional customer experience, coordinates its website, mobile applications and other systems—from on-line purchase to event and restaurant reservations to onsite purchases.

Successful outdoor equipment retailer REI has also streamlined its service by sharing data among the website, mobile applications and in-store kiosks. Customers get consistent and reliable status on the availability of products onsite and online, so they know whether something is in stock or not and whether the size and color they need is available.

This kind of integrations requires omnichannel tools with a unified architecture that marries all your systems, data and processes.

Fiction: Exceptional Customer Experience Is Too Hard for Most Companies

The truth is you don’t have to rebuild your entire infrastructure to offer consumers a top-tier experience. Moving your contact center to the cloud makes it easy to manage data from applications across all channels and coordinate them with agents, customer relationship management teams and even other departments, like billing and sales. Integrated desktop applications help agents handle requests over phone, email, text or chat. And if needed, cloud-based systems quickly scale to handle more volume.

Regardless of how you choose to tackle the challenge, customers are quick to reward good service, and every step you take toward a seamless experience will win you more fans and increasing success.

To learn how to provide seamless customer experiences, read our white paper, Contact Centers: The Moment of Truth for Your Brand.


Catherine DeStasio is Serenova's Content Manager.