Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Omnichannel Imperative: Best Practices in Customer Service

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Omnichannel Imperative: Best Practices in Customer Service

Article excerpt

Your customers are omnichannel. Most transactions between them and your business now involve multiple channels and touchpoints. They expect this hopscotch experience to be seamless. So, how can you provide service experiences that are unified, compelling, and cost-effective? Based on our experience with successful implementations in blue-chip companies worldwide, we recommend the following five steps for success.

1. MAP CUSTOMER JOURNEYS

A well-informed business is a thriving business. Knowing who your customers are includes knowing what their journeys look like across the research-buy-use-love lifecycle. Manifest customer segments as personas. For each persona, map the most common journeys, detailing channels and touchpoints preferred for various activities. For instance, a busy working mom's journey map for buying an insurance plan may involve blogs, social referrals, company website, FAQs, cobrowsing, even video chat and Facebook! Customer journey mapping will help you understand needs and decide which technologies make business sense to implement.

2. USE A ROBUST FRAMEWORK FOR "RIGHT-CHANNELING"

"Right-channeling" is an intelligent and cost-effective approach to omnichannel customer service. It ensures the delivery of just the right service levels through the right touchpoint at the right time, while curbing costs. For example, a business could offer cobrowsing help to customers making an expensive purchase or filling out a complex web form. Social customers airing sensitive issues in public might be offered an immediate one-on-one chat with an agent. On the other hand, customers with common queries may be prompted to use self-service (always, always, with the option of escalating seamlessly to agent-assisted service). The key to delivering friction-free omnichannel experiences is the integration of content, context, and process across all communication channels--traditional, social, and mobile--using a "hub" approach, explained in Step 3.

3. GO WITH A HUB

Fragmented service experiences are still the norm. Leading North American companies fared the worst in omnichannel customer service, compared with any other aspect of service, in an eGain mystery-shopping research study. No wonder, according to Gartner, omnichannel consistency is the top CX priority for 2015 for most companies.

Context retention and service consistency are key challenges in omnichannel service. Meet them by implementing a Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) that consolidates customer interactions, knowledge, rules, workflow, and analytics on a common platform. …

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