Why is Omni-Channel Customer Service so Important?

Customer Service is king. With 80% of consumers more likely to buy from brands that offer personalized experiences, it doesn’t matter how excellent your product or company is if customers are disappointed after interactions. So how can you roll out the red carpet for your customers?

Today, omni-channel communications offer a simple but powerful way to delight customers. But what exactly do we mean when we say ‘omni-channel’?

What is Omni-Channel Customer Service?

You may have heard the terms ‘omni-channel’ and ‘multi-channel’ used a lot. It’s easy to assume they’re different terms for the same thing, but there is a slight, yet significant difference.

Put simply, multi-channel offers your customers exactly that – the option to choose between different channels of communication. Omni-channel does this too, but where it differs is that the channels aren’t completely separate, unlike multi-channel. Information and interactions can be transferred seamlessly between channels. An omni-channel contact center is ‘channel agnostic’; no matter which channels your customer prefer to use, or an interaction shifts between channels, your contact center will be able to handle it.

Omni-channel offers a truly unified communications estate for your organization, giving your agents full visibility over a customer’s interactions, across every channel they use.

The best omni-channel customer service solutions offer channels such as:

  • Email

  • SMS & WhatsApp

  • Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) etc.)

  • Web chat

  • Voice

There are many benefits to offering a broad range of channels, and, if implemented correctly, you can provide hassle free, seamless interactions.

The Benefits of Omni-Channel Customer Service

Empowering Customers

Every customer is unique. And every person prefers a different way of communicating. 47% of consumers would now prefer to solve their query through digital, social, or self-service channels, rather than traditional voice interactions.

Some people prefer to contact your organization via text, others will want to speak to a human right away. These customer expectations are all equally valid. It’s up to your business to meet them; to give the customer the freedom to choose the methods of communication they prefer.


Inspire Loyalty

It’s easy to underestimate how a satisfying omni-channel interaction can spark joy for your customers. We don’t really think of these interactions as a positive experience, because often times they aren’t. It’s common for customers to reach out only when something goes wrong. If they can’t get through to you, or find your contact channels needlessly confusing, this will only add to their frustrations, especially when they suspect this is intentional.

By utilizing omni-channel customer service you can create a seamless, stress-free journey for an already frustrated customer, meaning from the moment they interact with you, things are starting to look up. From the moment an interaction begins, you’ve already taken steps to alleviate customer frustrations, and create a delightful experience.

A positive customer service experience can make almost a quarter of customers likely to recommend your product, turning disgruntled customers into loyal advocates, by showing them that you care about what they have to say, and how they say it.


Better Response Times

Good things come to those who wait, but let’s be honest; no one likes to wait. Customers want their call to be answered within a reasonable time, and long queues can lead to frustration and abandonment – neither of which is a good thing.

Voice channels can only be answered one at a time by a single agent. Meaning that for every customer calling in, you need one agent. Digital channels come with the added benefit that a single agent can interact with several customers at once, with no drop in service quality. That means a single agent could answer multiple customers.

Interestingly, customer expectations differ across channels. On average, 79% of customers expect a response to social media posts within 24 hours. What sets social media apart as a channel of contact is its public-facing nature. When a customer makes a post critical of your business, their friends and family will see it, and it might go even further, depending on the size of their network. It’s critical that you treat social media posts in the same way as incoming calls, responding and resolving the query as quickly as possible, to limit potential fallout.


Focus on What Matters

With an omni-channel customer service, people will contact you in the way that best suites them. Different inquiries have different levels of urgency. For example, if you needed an ambulance, you probably wouldn’t drop them a text. Different channels bring different kinds of functionality. You can’t share images or video over a telephone call for instance, but you could use a WhatsApp message to do just that. Omni-channel allows your customers to switch between channels according to need, providing the agent with all the tools they need to resolve customer queries.

Traditionally, most people still prefer voice, but this depends heavily on your business, and the needs of the customer. A financial organization, for example, should prioritize having agents available to handle incoming voice calls about urgent financial queries. A logistics business might be able to get by with only SMS notifications for every delivery. Customers contact different businesses in different ways, according to need.


Respect your Customers’ Time

Your customers are busy people. They don’t want to spend their time sitting around on a call waiting for a response. How many times have you been sat in a queue, wishing you could be doing anything else? By offering omni-channel customer service, your customers can use digital channels, freeing them to get on with their days while waiting for a reply, not keeping an ear out for that sudden, “Hello, sorry for the wait!”.


Provide Privacy Where Needed

Studies show a growing concern over customer security. In 2022, losses to fraud reached $8.8 billion, with credit cards the most common payment method. You want your customers to feel able to communicate freely, trusting you to protect sensitive information.

Omni-channel customer service allows you to move your interaction to a more secure channel. This is particularly useful for handling payment details. If your customers don’t think you can keep their payment information safe from scammers, they’re not going to trust you with it, and will go to your competition. Taking security seriously is also a great way to let the customer know you’re the real thing, and not an elaborate scam.


Expand your Omni-Channel Customer Service

The best omni-channel customer service tools operate entirely within the cloud, meaning that there’s no need for expensive additional hardware. Transitioning to the cloud can seem like a daunting task, but with the right partner, it’s effortless.

An often underappreciated benefit of this approach is that once you’ve upgraded to omni-channel customer service, it’s very easy to integrate new channels and functionality, expanding your customers’ options, and leveraging industry-leading, AI-powered technologies.

How to get the most of your Omni-Channel Customer Support

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of omni-channel customer service, it’s important to discuss how to best utilize it to get the most for your money:

  • Personalize your customer’s experience – Integrations with CRMs allow you to not only track your customer’s journey across channels, but also recognize repeat customers and give them a tailored response.

  • Face-to-face with video  Transitioning to a video call, and letting callers show you directly what they’re talking about can save a surprising amount of time.

  • Automation - AI powered chatbots are only improving. By offering the option to speak to a chatbot in your omni-channel customer service, you can resolve simple issues and understand customer intent without the need for an agent, offering a 24/7 service.

  • Security Options – Often used by banks and other services that require over-the-phone payments, omni-channel customer services can benefit from two factor authentication, by utilizing another channel such as SMS or email.

  • Change office conventions – Recently, we’ve seen a rise in the number of offices taking advantage of hybrid working. Some omni-channel customer services are cloud-based, allowing your agents to work from anywhere, increasing employee satisfaction and retention.

  • Give your customers a say – Customer surveys are nothing new, but by utilizing omni-channel functionality, you can let customers provide feedback through the channel that best suits them.