Omnichannel Customer Support: What It Is and How You Can Get Started

By Deon Nicholas
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Customer expectations and interactions have evolved over the years. 

It used to be that customers contacted you via phone if they needed help, then it was email. Now customers have their pick between email, chat, phone, text, social media, and they’re using them all to do the same thing: talk to you. 

Your customers expect more from you than ever before. On top of a great product or service, they’re looking for experiences that will help them trust you to provide them with what they’re looking for whenever they’re looking for it. 

For that reason, communication with our customers has evolved and shifted from traditional channels to an omnichannel support strategy that can help deliver a great experience across multiple channels. 

You’d think with an omnichannel approach customers would be pleased and have their needs met but according to CCW, “Consumers do not yet feel they are in the ‘era of customer centricity.’ They are not blown away by their experiences within the omnichannel journey.” 

What does this mean for us? That we can do better! 

There is always room for improvement when working to serve your customers. 

You can make the customer support journey and process better or, if you don’t have omnichannel support in place, you can implement a better process. 

In fact, companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement or none at all. 

Many support leaders are confused about what omnichannel support is, and even more so when they see statistics that it’s not doing what it should be doing for the customers who do have access to it through other brands. 

Providing seamless solutions and support interactions can be daunting if you’re unsure what needs to be done or changed in order to improve things overall. 

Today we want to give you an overview of omnichannel customer support, what it is, how it helps, and how you can get started. 

What is Omnichannel Support?

Customer expectations have changed and that’s because the way we handle our customers has changed. 

There are more ways to be reached than ever before and the challenge comes with trying to be accessible via every channel. Along with accuracy and speed, customers seek consistency and omnichannel can help enable a more consistent support framework. 

Omnichannel customer support is an integrated and synchronized support process that takes into account all accessible support channels and connects them to provide a unified customer experience so that customers who switch between communications channels still feel they are experiencing a single interaction. 

In an omnichannel approach, all support channels are aligned to operate as a single channel able to deliver high quality customer experiences. 

Aside from helping customers, omnichannel support gives you the ability to keep consistent processes in place for how conversations should flow from person to person or channel to channel.

Omnichannel support is one of the best ways to serve your customers’ needs in a way that keeps their message constant across all channels, especially when you realize that the majority of customers say their biggest support pain point is having to repeat themselves over and over again when seeking solutions. 

Omnichannel vs Single Channel vs Multichannel

You might be wondering what the difference is between omnichannel support and the other types of support you’ve encountered in the past. 

If you’ve ever submitted a support request you probably did it via a contact form on someone’s website. Or maybe you sent a complaint on Twitter that then turned into a DM. Even more commonly would be sending in a chat request on someone’s website when you need help.

These individual support channels would be considered single channel support because it’s all coming in from a single channel. 

Many times you’ll see businesses touting omnichannel support when really they’re just offering multichannel support. When a business offers multichannel support they offer support on multiple channels. Multichannel support is great when you’re trying to be everywhere your customers are. You might have social media support teams, and teams that cover chat, email, and phone. These are all great offerings, the next step is to synchronize the process and find a way to connect these channels. 

When you go a step further and seamlessly connect your support channels, you result in offering omnichannel customer support in which customers can move from one communication channel to another. In an omnichannel experience your customer’s conversation history and needs are passed along from channel to channel making things better for both agents and customers

The most frustrating thing about needing customer support is having to repeat yourself every time someone new is working on your issue. Omnichannel support makes it so a customer doesn’t have to worry about passing along the same information every time, instead the agents on the other end have that information at their disposal every time. 

What Does Omnichannel Support Mean For Customer Satisfaction?

When you unify all your support channels under one platform you ensure consistency with how you provide support which has a huge impact on your customers. 

Lack of support options or weak support makes for unhappy customers whose needs are not being met. If you give customers what they want via omnichannel service their satisfaction with your company will increase. They’ll know that they can trust you and find you on multiple support channels and get what they need every time.

Happier customers means boosted CSAT, NPS, and CES. Customers get what they need, are happy to share the news, and notice an overall decrease in the effort they need to put in when trying to communicate with your organization. 

Omnichannel Support Advantages

Not only does providing seamless customer support translate into happier, more satisfied customers, it allows you to:

Build Trust Between You And Your Customers

When customers know their interactions will lead to solutions no matter how they try to access you, they’ll trust you to meet their needs every time. 

Make Customers Feel Valued 

Omnichannel support allows for information to be easily passed from one channel to another making it so customers don’t have to repeat information every time — the context for a customer’s need is always there. You can make your customers feel like you value their time with the help of omnichannel. 

Give Customers More Support Options 

Has your support organization been afraid to add an additional communication channel to let customers contact you? It can be daunting to think about the influx of need that will come from another channel when you don’t have your current ones on lock. Omnichannel support can make managing multiple communications easy since it eventually leads to one platform for agents. 

Increase Responsiveness

As much as your customers expect fast responses, your agents want to meet SLAs and stay on top of the support metrics that matter. Omnichannel support can help teams increase responsiveness by ensuring agents don’t lose track of support requests across channels since they’re eventually streamlined into one. 

Decrease Wait Times 

Omnichannel support solutions can be even better for support teams when they are powered by true AI and machine learning. With AI for customer support you can deflect repetitive tickets and provide automatic solutions to customers and you can help agents provide faster answers with a tool that pulls up relevant information when answering support questions. 

Improve Agent And Customer Retention

Not only do you end up with happier customers when you implement omnichannel customer support solutions powered by AI, you also unlock the secret to agents and customer retention. Customers will return to you if they can trust you and agents will stick around when they know they’re being supported by tools that enable them to do better. 

Getting Started With Omnichannel Support 

By implementing the right tools that can set you up for success and help you help your customers, you can positively impact and improve the customer experience your business offers. 

Omnichannel support that is supported by AI tools like those from Forethought make it so customers get faster answers and get the support they need when they need it. AI for customer support can also help with more than just the omnichannel experience.

Customer support AI can help agents onboard faster and learn how to do their jobs more efficiently while also helping customers with self-service solutions that often prevent their questions from becoming tickets in the first place. 

AI powered solutions that learn from your data and continue to take in information with every customer query can make for better customer service and the best omnichannel support when working together. 

If you’re interested in learning more about AI tools for your support team or contact center, learn more here.

Curious about why else omnichannel support is a must have? Check out this blog. 

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Interested in generative AI for customer support? Check out this guide to learn about the 3 key pillars you need to get started.

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