Your customers follow the path of least resistance.
It’s why people flock to channels like self-service and chat when it’s easy for them. And it’s also why they won’t stop calling you when their problem takes more than a few steps to solve.
Companies with clunky, multichannel experiences still see an overwhelming amount of customers using voice over their fresh, new channels like Twitter and text. So, what gives? If you send a tweet into the Twitterverse and never hear back from a brand, but you can ring them on the phone and get an answer every time, which would you choose?
Personally, I’d lean into the channel that doesn’t leave me hanging. But few brands have been able to master omnichannel (yet!). So, the survey data around omnichannel is incomplete. It doesn’t tell the whole story. The data shows that consumers far prefer speedy channels like self-service and chat on their customer journey, but they’re still using voice.
Just because your customers still pick up the phone doesn’t mean they like it.
Research out of Forrester found that customers prefer self-service to any other channel. And, Salesforce’s State of Service report found that chatbots using AI to serve up self-service info are growing at a pretty incredible rate: 136%. Companies are using speedy channels and information they already have on hand to solve simple customer problems.
But if customers can’t solve their problems flying solo, they’ll still reach out for help. Which is precisely why so many customers are still calling you.
Sure, nobody wants to waste minutes of their life crammed into a call queue, waiting for an unenthused agent to pick up the line. But if the option is call in and get to a resolution or sift through self-help articles that don’t answer my question, then they’re going to call in.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to the customer experience your team delivers. You can choose to take the scenic route, or you can route your customers through a journey that actually makes sense.
Stop funneling customers into an experience they don’t want. We’re walking through ways to optimize your omnichannel customer journey for the experience your customers actually want.
3 ways you can give customers the omnichannel journey they really want.
1. Don’t try to revive tired channels.
A few years back, I took a leap and decided to buy my first house. There was a ton of paperwork and lots of docs flying back and forth. And most of it had to be faxed to my mortgage company.
Since it wasn’t 1999 and I didn’t have a personal fax machine (or a working printer, for that matter) I had to jump through a few hoops to get my document to the right place. I downloaded the eFax app on my phone, which doubled as a scanner and a fax machine.
Using an app as a fax machine was new to me, but it was more intuitive and user-friendly than going to FedEx day after day (after day) and paying them to send my paperwork.
The app, which I had to download and shell out cash for, let me take a picture of my documents. One at a time. Of course, I needed a solid colored background and I’d have to watch for shadows, all while hovering juuuust the right amount above the paper. Then, I needed to jump to another tab to find the fax number. And then, I could (finally) start the process of sending over my doc. It was kind of like sending a picture message, except with 12 extra steps and an unwanted subscription tacked on.
Read now: Think less about channels and more about what your customers want. Learn how to reach omnichannel nirvana.
But, what if this company just let me send a picture message instead? Without all the extra steps. For starters, I might be writing about a positive experience right now instead of a negative one.
Even better though, it would have expedited the entire process for the mortgage company.
Don’t feel forced to use tired channels, like fax, because it’s the way your business has always done things. It’s okay to change. In fact, the pain of change is often less than the pain of staying the same. New tech pops up daily, and there are dozens of easier (and secure) ways to communicate with your customers. Even if the information is sensitive.
2. Don’t sacrifice quality for speed.
Almost three-quarters of all US consumers, 73%, think the most important thing a company can do in their online customer experience is to value their time. On the surface, studies like this one make a solid case for increasing efficiency in your omnichannel customer journey.
But, when we dig deeper, we see that speed only matters when customers leave with a favorable outcome. According to a Customer Impact Study from RightNow, consumers cited rude, incompetent staff as the top reason for abandoning a business. And, they cited it 18% more often than issues getting resolved in a timely manner.
Build efficiency into your omnichannel customer journey, but don’t put policies before people. Coach your agents to prioritize lasting resolutions, too. If a customer needs help with a complex problem and they took the time to call (when they didn’t want to), slow down and give them the help they need.
An example to get your wheels turning:
If a customer picks up the phone, and dials in, talks to an energetic and helpful rep, then reaches a resolution in all of two minutes, they leave happy. And, they’re super pumped that this positive outcome only took a few minutes of their time.
Let’s flip the script a bit, though.
Let’s say a customer calls in and gets the same friendly and helpful rep, and the call still only takes two minutes. But, they don’t find a lasting resolution. A day after calling in, the customer becomes stuck with the same problem once again – steeping in frustration. Rather than thrilled with the speedy service, your customer’s angry. They feel like your agent rushed them off the phone and didn’t take the time needed to really solve the problem.
Or, what if your customer calls in and has a two-minute conversation with a disgruntled or unhelpful agent. The agent brushes the customer off and basically says they can’t do anything to help, all while acting like the customer is incompetent (spoiler alert: this happened to me last week). That two minutes, though fast, certainly doesn’t sit right.
“With support, 15 minutes in heaven is always better than 5 minutes in hell”– Gregory Ciotti for HelpScout
3. Serve up more than one option.
I’ll take text messages with a side of live chat, please.
What’s the point of offering dozens of channels if you can’t deliver equally fantastic service with each? Don’t force your customers to turn to a channel they hate because you neglect the ones they love. Research shows, 91% of people prefer brands that offer multiple service channels.
Over the course of an omnichannel customer journey, a range of issues are bound to pop up. If you locked yourself out of your Internet provider account, it’s likely you can easily resolve the issue with some self-help instructions. But, a year from now, when your WiFi speeds grind to a halt during your fifth consecutive video chat, you’ll need a company representative to intervene.
That’s why a real omnichannel strategy bests all others.
“Today, customers resolve straightforward customer service interactions via self-service, leaving complex issues like account closure, booking a complex multicity set of flights, or an explanation of smart metering billing policies for a phone conversation. These questions often take longer to resolve and are opportunities to build positive customer relationships with an end goal of increased customer retention.”– Kate Leggett, Vice President, Principal Analyst for Forrester