Consumers Ask for Omni-channel Customer Service: Are Companies Returning the Call?

UC Unplugged

Consumers Ask for Omni-channel Customer Service: Are Companies Returning the Call?

By TMCnet Special Guest
Jim Freeze
  |  April 02, 2014

The majority of American consumers say they should be able to pick up a customer service interaction about the same issue right where they last left off – 91 percent of them in fact. Unfortunately, less than 40 percent of them have actually been able to do so according to a survey we conducted with consumers who have contacted customer service.

This disconnect is concerning to say the least, and it has not gone unnoticed. More and more, consumers are pushing brands to address their service dissatisfaction, as they are plagued with sounding like a broken record to get resolution. For example 89 percent are annoyed when they have to repeat themselves about a customer service issue.

This frustration could be why 80 percent are demanding major customer service changes by the companies they do business with. And what is that change? Omni-channel.

Omni-channel customer service is the ability for customers to begin an interaction on one channel or device and seamlessly continue on another without feeling alienated, forgotten, or having to start all over again – all channels, all the time, all devices, fully integrated. But a clear distinction needs to be made between omni-channel and multi-channel. Multi-channel is offering customer interaction on all the channels through which a customer wants engagement with a company. The difference is in the integration of those channels. Omni-channel, by contrast, is the linking and connecting of those channels so that customers are able to have an uninterrupted conversation even if they move from one channel to the next. The data and context is available on both so if a chat about a sick kitty and its vitamin dosage for example turns into a call, that consumer is able to pick up where he or she left off without having to repeat little frisker’s story. The agent on the phone will know exactly where to pick up the conversation.

But it doesn’t just benefit the consumer. Omni-channel creates business value by building higher customer retention and loyalty because of the differentiated care shown by the organizations that deliver it. Because omni-channel customer service can develop unique and personal relationships with customers, it is the next horizon in customer service.

How do companies get there? Bringing on omni-channel requires consistency, knowledge and openness.

  • Be consistent: Just 57 percent agree that their experience is consistent no matter how they contact customer service.
  • Have, and use, the right info: While 94 percent say customer service should have the most up-to-date information on them no matter the care channel, nearly half (47 percent) say the data customer service typically has on record rarely seems to help resolve their issue.
  • Break down the silos: As the lines blur between brick-and-mortar and online transactions, 91 percent want customer care to be more informed about current promotions.

It’s clear that omni-channel interaction is what consumers are calling for. And ignoring this call is futile for any brand that wants to keep up with its ever-changing consumers.

Jim Freeze is CMO at Aspect (News - Alert) (www.aspect).

Edited by Stefania Viscusi