Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Omnichannel Is About Customer Support, Not Sales Alone

June 02, 2017

With customer demands on the rise, competition fierce and social media prepared to excoriate any company that offers a lousy customer experience, most companies have up-to-date omnichannel customer engagement strategies in place…right? While this would certainly be the case in a perfect world, the reality is that few companies are capable of offering textbook customer support that crosses communication channels, devices and customer interactions.

A recent whitepaper by DeviceBits noted that omnichannel is now widely accepted as the strategy that will drive retail into the future. The problem is that everyone seems to define “omnichannel strategy” differently, and too many companies are focused only on sales.

“In its simplest form, omnichannel is defined as a retailer’s ability to sell its goods and services in both online and offline environments, with as close a consistent manner as possible,” wrote the paper’s authors. “But the broader retail strategy must be about more than just sales, right? It must be about branding. It must be about the customer experience. It must be about the multi-screen experience (98 percent of Americans switch between devices the same day.”

A company’s omnichannel strategy (whether effective or ineffective) will dictate its ability to sell in a digital world, while also realizing that some people still want to shop in a physical store, and expect the two experiences to mesh. They want the person who answers their chat, initiated a day after a phone call, to know about the call they made yesterday (and why). They don’t want to be faced with, “Hello, may I have your account number?” three times if their call is transferred three times.

“Omnichannel is often thought of as a sales strategy, but it’s also as much a customer service strategy,” according to the white paper. “This is especially critical since companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement experiences retain roughly 89 percent of their customers, according to the Aberdeen Group.”

Where many retailers go wrong is in simply estimating what their omnichannel strategy “ought to be” rather than knowing exactly what their customer really wants. It’s possible that many companies are wasting time and money offering online options that customers don’t need and aren’t using. Before you can build a compelling omnichannel strategy, map your customers’ journeys and determine which are the most effective. Where are the roadblocks? What route are the happiest customers taking? Which options do they value, and which don’t they use?

“A customer experience is shaped far beyond the point of sale,” according to DeviceBits’ white paper. “Tracking inventory, shipping logistics, and managing returns all have omnichannel implications, yet aren’t directly involved in the actual selling of a product.”

It’s up to your organization to determine the shape customers want before you deploy your omnichannel strategy.