Omni-channel shopping experiences, from responsive design to integrated inventory, buy online pick up in store services to in-store digital currently has a lot of excitement. But not to be overlooked is omni-channel customer service, where customers can communicate seamlessly across service touchpoints, with consistent quality of service and persisted context throughout the customer service journey.

Omni-channel’s service expectations are high
Today, traditional customer service channels of store, telephone and email are supplemented with online self-serve tools, live chat, chat bots and social networks. Even SMS & WhatsApp alerts are pushed to smartphones and wearables.

Research by Zendesk, into customer expectation cites:
• 64% expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use
• 37% expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative regardless of which channel they use
• 87% think brands need to work harder to create a seamless experience for customers
• 73% think brands pay more attention to generating sales across multiple channels than they do providing an integrated customer service experience
• 78% say a company’s reputation for customer service is important to them when choosing to buy from a particular brand

Omni-channel Customer Service – Challenges and Opportunities
Like many omni-channel efforts, siloed people and technology are a barrier to integrated experiences, leaving an experience gap for the customer and inefficiencies for the business.

1. Service optimisation
For example, un-coordinated service channels can result in multiple customer service representatives (CSRs) responding to the same email. Unanswered emails that prompt a customer to use the phone channel results in the customer explaining the situation over again.

Some customer service needs are best served by specific or multiple channels, such as a social or live chat agent referring to a telephone representative in another department, with the phone representative emailing a confirmation or transcript to the customer after the call. Or, any agent sending a quick link to an online self-serve page or process.

Integrated channels allow tracking of the customer journey to ensure the customer’s issue is resolved, and supports triggered events such as how-did-we-do surveys and post-resolution content and offers.
It also enables process optimisation. What about how the social-to-CSR transition could be improved? Which channels have the longest response-lag? How can you send customers to the best resolution channel as quickly as possible? Which self-serve queries most often lead to phone calls? How can you streamline these processes?

2. Personalisation
Integration also supports personalisation, both within the service context and within future shopping experiences. For example, integration with account history and personalisation tools can assist CSRs with appropriate cross-sell and upsell recommendations. When deciding on which resolution to offer, a telecom may offer certain solutions to pay-as-you-go customers with higher churn risk than those with 2 years left on their contracts, or to high-value customers with bundled services, as an example.

Mining text and voice logs for sentiment may also be useful for segmentation and churn-reduction programmes.

Context gleaned from the support call may be incorporated into a master customer profile for future targeting, cross-sell/upsell and segmentation. The pay-as-you-go customer complaining about high long-distance airtime charges may be targeted with a contract package via email with attractive long-distance rates later, and future web visits for this customer can be merchandised accordingly on the home page.

Closing the service gaps
Some customer service software vendors offer a degree of omni-channel integration, and depending on a business’ size and requirements, this may suffice. For example, a single view of the customer on the back-end or the ability for a CSR to perform a keyword search to pull up all instances of a customer’s inquiry across touchpoints.

For larger, more complex enterprises that want advanced capabilities including incorporating unstructured data like live chat logs and social interactions, cross-channel integration can’t be done with traditional customer service software alone.

Advanced customer engagement management (CEM) platforms exist to monitor channels, analyse and persist context across interactions, but integration with other systems such as big data analytics and personalisation tools may still be significant and expensive, especially if various divisions and departments are not using unified solutions. Organisational structure may also be a roadblock, as true integration may require CSRs to man multiple channels or learn new systems and processes.

Regardless of how simple or complex the requirements to deliver a better experience across customer support channels is, no business should treat omni-channel customer service gaps as an afterthought.

Karabina is specialised, agile and independent which allows us to adapt quickly and make sure you as the customer stay relevant and have the right communication support channels. If you are looking to improve your customer experience and engage with your customers, not just in a better way, but in the best possible way, then contact us today.


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