How to break through the noise and win over cusotmers in an omnichannel world

How to Win the Omnichannel Race in a World Where Customer Expectations Won’t Stop Rising Any Time Soon

Picture the last time you bought something online.

You’re sitting on your couch, watching The Office from start to finish for the 17th time, sifting through items you’ve saved to your cart on Amazon. If you’re like me, you’re shopping from the couch because it’s wildly convenient. I can multitask: entertain my brain, make the purchases I need AND avoid leaving the house. While multitasking at work is scientifically proven to diminish your productivity, it does the trick when you’ve memorized nearly every line that leaves Michael Scott’s lips. 

And while online shopping used to be a luxury, in 2020 it became a necessity. Our online shopping habits turned essential when lockdown orders hit. And, they’ve spawned new habits for many of us. Even though I can now head to physical locations to shop, masked up, I still choose to shop online whenever I can.

But these habits have also changed the way I look for help from customer service, too. When I have a question about my grocery order or the industrial toilet paper I had to order (thanks TP crisis 2020), I don’t have a human to talk to. Instead of politely tapping a person on the shoulder and asking for help in-store, I seek out information from company websites. I turn to FAQ pages, live chat bubbles and even email addresses. 

Unfortunately, though, tons of companies still don’t offer these channels – making it tough to win over customers in an omnichannel world. When you don’t offer the right lines of communication for your customers, you funnel them into an experience they don’t want. And when you don’t serve up answers to customers who have questions, some 55% of them will abandon their purchase entirely. 

As customer expectations continue to rise and more companies adopt omnichannel strategies, what can contact center leaders like you do to make your experience standout? 

In this post, we’re exploring how to win the loyalty of your customers in an omnichannel world. Let’s walk through three ways contact centers can build seamless omnichannel experiences to improve customer happiness.

Your 3-Step Guide on How to Win in an Omnichannel World 

Step 1: Make Customer-Focused Changes in Your Contact Center

For starters, embrace change. According to Susanne Jacobs, when left unchecked, change derails reliability, one of our seven DRIVERS important to safety and motivation. It makes sense, then, that we’d back away from it or press the pause button when we see change coming around the bend.

But the reality is, even if you think you’re nailing your customer experience, most customers don’t agree. We all have work to do to meet customers’ high expectations. Sitting stagnant only ensures that you won’t keep up with the forever changing needs of modern consumers.

[Read Next] 7 quotes from Susanne Jacobs’ book DRIVERS and how they apply to your contact center

A CCW Market Study found that only 11% of customers felt like brands genuinely cared about improving their experiences. And, a slim 12% of customers felt like brands actually took action to improve their CX.

Don’t fall into the camp of companies who aren’t taking action to improve for customers. Be one of those 12 percenters instead. 

How to fix it:

Operate in an omnichannel headspace to provide better service to your customers, no matter how or when they reach out. Turn to your data to analyze and unpack what’s broken in your customer experience rather than relying only on your gut to solve problems. 

Ask your team questions to learn what’s tripping them up when they’re helping customers. Are they stuck surfing between too many windows when they’re interacting with customers? Do they have access to the customer history they need for more context? Dig into your processes and tools to fix the disjointed pieces of your customer experience. Today. 

Step 2: Tie the Digital Channels Your Customers Actually Use into Your Omnichannel Experience

The average US citizen spends 5.4 hours per day on their phone. 

We reach for the tiny computer in our pockets every time we want to read the news (sigh), order a new pair of shoes online, FaceTime our mom or send a text to refill a prescription at CVS.

With cell phones a prominent and seemingly permanent fixture in our lives, it makes sense that people naturally look to digital channels like texting to reach customer service. Turns out, more than 6 in 10 U.S. adults use channels like chat, social, and self-service to talk to their favorite brands before picking up the phone to dial a customer service line.

In an age where we’re already pressed for time (how is it September?), nobody wants to play phone tag with customer service. Some 80% of consumers find waiting on hold for any amount of time frustrating. 

What’s more? Two-thirds of customers hang up after only two minutes on hold. Of those who hang up, 34% will never call back. Instead, they’ll stew in frustration with a lingering problem that you couldn’t help them fix. 

Tech savvy generations like Millennials and Gen Zers rely on their own skillsets and resources to hunt down answers to their problems. 

[Read Next] How millennials are reshaping modern customer service expectations

When my dishwasher breaks, I scour YouTube videos to fix my detergent compartment. It keeps getting stuck mid-wash, so the soap never releases to clean my dishes. But I know if I called the company directly, a large manufacturer, it’d be at least half an hour before I get an answer to my problem. And, that answer might include a costly visit from a certified repair person. (Just like the time the heating element broke in my microwave.) No thanks. YouTube videos will do just fine.  

How to fix it: 

People like me and all the generations to follow (with growing consumer power) are changing the tides of customer service. Now, 77% of consumers aged 18-34 think positively of brands that offer fast channels, like texting, for customer service. 

To keep your modern consumers engaged and happy with their customer experience, offer digital channels like texting, self-service knowledge bases and live chat in addition to voice. Speed is mission-critical to providing outstanding customer service to today’s customers. Offer up fast ways to problem-solve, first, supplemented by stellar phone service from well-trained agents. It’ll give you a leg up on the competition who can’t win when they’re still tied up in the spiral cords of desk phones instead of operating in an omnichannel world.

Step 3: Reduce effort for your agents, then your customers

Last year, 60% of contact center leaders wanted to measure agent effort. And as they measured it, they identified an important trend: the more effort agents had to put in, the more customer experience suffered. 

Why? 

When your employees are overworked and overwhelmed, they get stuck in decision fatigue. Being overwhelmed drains empowerment, so agents always run to you for help instead of putting their critical thinking skills to work. It becomes tough to make the right calls when customers need help, leading to lower performance, then to even lower empowerment. 

[Learn More] Sharpen’s omnichannel empowers your agents with simplified tools built to make their jobs easier

Once feelings of distress or burnout hit your team, it’s tough to pull them out of the whirlpool of distress. These negative impacts suddenly consume your contact center, making it difficult to execute on the strategies you carefully thought out.

Now, enter 2020: the year where customers still want more. 

Turns out, this year is when the need for an omnichannel strategy meets the need for near-perfect execution. Not only are your customers watching out for new channels and new ways to communicate with you, but they’re also watching to make sure you reduce effort in their customer journey. 

And reducing customer effort is something you simply can’t do until you reduce agent effort, tackling the monster of the overwhelmed worker, first. 

How to fix it: 

To execute on your CX strategy perfectly and win in an omnichannel world, your agents need extra support. They need improved coaching and training to answer customer demands on the fly. They need tools that make their jobs easier. And, they need neatly outlined performance metrics, so they understand expectations and can see progress.

Evaluate your processes, your training regimens and your toolsets to see where gaps exist for your agents. Do they have access to customer data? How about quick channels to communicate with you and their peers? Do you empower them with clearly defined goals and intended customer outcomes? Do a full sweep through your processes and refine important pieces to offer your agents more support, so they can better execute on customer strategies.

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