Consumers tend to change their brand preferences for the slightest inconvenience in today’s rapidly evolving online shopping environment.
Customer service is a crucial part of e-commerce success; 72% of customers are willing to switch brands after one bad experience if they are not happy with the support provided, a study into the State of Customer Service by the Northridge Group reveals.
Online competition is rising. Consumers expect to be able to contact brands via multiple channels from customer service live chat, email, phone, social media to SMS messages, which contributes directly to a better customer experience. Therefore, making an effort to perfect your customer service processes is more critical than ever.
So, how can e-commerce businesses succeed in this challenging time?
Let’s dive right in to find out!
Omnichannel customer service can help
To deliver a seamless customer experience (CX), implementing an omnichannel strategy can help. Customers like consistency and to get their queries solved fast. People who had a positive customer experience are likely to spend 140% more than those with a negative experience, found Deloitte.
The omnichannel approach has increased customer engagement and loyalty, leading to higher customer satisfaction rates and sustainable revenue growth.
So, let’s look at what an omnichannel customer service approach is and the main advantages and disadvantages.
What is omnichannel customer service?
The omnichannel definition is where customers can receive support across all possible communication channels, platforms, and devices but integrated through a single system.
Besides the fact that support is available across all channels, the main aim of omnichannel customer experience is that all previous conversations that customers have had with the support team have been recorded and stored in that single system.
Meaning, that customers won’t have to explain themselves multiple times.
For example, the rise of hosted omnichannel e-commerce solutions like Shopify has made it super easy for online businesses of all sizes to manage everything through one platform. They offer several free first-party and excellent third-party Shopify apps that one can tailor to their business needs.
We have all been there – your customer agent promised to call back but didn’t. Then you call back to explain your situation repeatedly, and again, and again. Over 50% of the customers surveyed in the State of Service report by Salesforce said they are frustrated they have to explain themselves several times when they get transferred to a different team or channel.
For example, omnichannel support is when a customer contacts via a phone call on a Friday and follows up on Monday through Facebook messenger regarding the very same issue. Omnichannel communication means that they will continue the conversation where they left off on Friday.
What is the difference between omnichannel and multi-channel customer service?
A multichannel strategy allows customers and the support team to communicate via various channels, for example, phone calls, emails, live chat, Facebook messenger, SMS messages, or Instagram chat.
Multichannel is still a great way to offer support, now utilized by many e-commerce stores.
Sounds pretty similar to omnichannel?
The main difference is that multichannel connections operate in isolation from each other. Meaning that previous data is either not recorded or not transmitted. That means a different agent cannot continue the conversation where they left off.
Let’s take the same example; multichannel support is when a customer contacts via a phone call on a Friday and follows up on Monday through Facebook messenger regarding the very same issue. However, the customer must repeatedly explain the exact problem without omnichannel support.
When starting with your e-commerce business, it is a great idea to incorporate seamless customer service into your brand strategy. Multichannel is suitable and still being used by most customer service teams. But omnichannel is excellent, the next multichannel strategy.
Omnichannel customer service can have several advantages, but as with everything, it comes with a few disadvantages.
Let’s have a look at what they are in the next paragraph. It would make it easier for you to decide if omnichannel customer service makes sense for your business.
Advantages of an omnichannel customer service strategy
1. Higher customer satisfaction rates
Customer service is more crucial than ever; an omnichannel strategy can hugely improve your customer satisfaction rates.
If customers consistently receive friendly, welcoming, and positive support and get their issues solved as fast as possible, it can significantly impact customer satisfaction rates.
The happier customers are with the service they are being provided, the more likely they are to advocate your brand to their family and friends, increasing by word-of-mouth marketing. Organic marketing is free and never gets old. Naturally, consumers trust each other.
Moreover, positive experiences lead to positive reviews. Customer reviews are a crucial part of running a successful online business. 87% of the consumers said to read online reviews in 2020, according to a Customer Review survey by Brightlocal.
An omnichannel shopping environment can improve customer experience through convenient, fast, and positive solutions to customers’ problems.
2. Higher customer retention rates
According to the Aberdeen Group research, businesses with solid omnichannel capabilities can retain 89% of their customers compared to 33% without it.
Omnichannel aims to simplify customer service processes from start to finish. While getting rid of complicated, time-consuming processes, you can provide a better service. Reducing customer effort will ultimately lead to higher customer retention rates.
Applying the Pareto Principle, 80% of sales are generally from 20% of your loyal and returning customers. Therefore, higher customer retention rates lead to higher e-commerce sales.
3. Quality customer insights
In e-commerce, customer service and marketing teams are closely intertwined, each relying on the actions of the other. Marketing teams often use data provided by customer service teams to increase customer retention in their marketing efforts.
Through an omnichannel approach, better and more quality customer data is gathered, as everything is retained in the system and is accessible for smooth cross-team communication.
For example, a customer made a complaint regarding a specific product. If that same customer complained across multiple channels, you have a problem. To avoid losing that customer, you can take a personalized approach and send them a discount code or a voucher via email and SMS.
4. Improve operational efficiency
When the customer contacts the support team, each channel often gathers its data about the interactions. Not only is it annoying for the customers, but it can also cause friction internally within the support team.
For example, one ticket is created for a route planning issue received through a phone call. Then, the customer contacts through live chat regarding the same thing as a follow-up, and a second ticket is created about the same problem.
Avoiding agent collision is something that an omnichannel strategy can help to prevent. It inevitably confuses both customers as well as customer service agents. It is relatively common within multichannel strategies that two customer service agents work on the same issue and provide different solutions.
When implementing an omnichannel strategy, incidents like this can be avoided, significantly improving customer service teams’ operational efficiency and processes.
Disadvantages of an omnichannel customer service strategy
1. System integration
It depends on the current system used and the intangible benefits, but integration could be complex depending on the software used.
It would be best to consider all possible options and how to interlink everything. Also, consider all positives and negatives of having omnichannel support and if it is worth the money. View all the benefits of investing in one.
2. Financial cost
It depends on which software you choose and which plan, e.g., how many different features and channels you want to integrate. Or advanced solutions like blockchain technology for omnichannel operations, adopted increasingly by retailers in recent years, don’t come cheap.
But, either way, the costs can rack up, even for plans offered to small e-commerce businesses. So it is important to consider all possible options and the financial benefits of investing and implementing one.
3. Time to train the support team
For most e-commerce companies, but more often for smaller e-commerce start-ups, time is limited and has to be focused on the most profitable business operations and process improvements.
Therefore, it is worth considering time to train your customer support team before implementing omnichannel customer service. It could take somewhere between weeks or even months to understand new workflows and procedures.
However, thinking ahead, doing so will help you reap the benefits in the long term. Omnichannel customer service can help to improve customer retention.
Your customers’ first impression of your business is shown instantly by the level of support you are providing. If they have an issue, and the first is that they cannot solve the problem, they may choose your competitor over you or not return.
Whether you are a small or medium-sized e-commerce company, you can nowadays find suitable software solutions in every price range. Separate plans can have the exact features necessary and customized for your business.