How to master omnichannel customer service: 5 steps

Customers of businesses across industries have come to expect seamless, fully-integrated omnichannel support, according to a Tuesday report from Zendesk. They expect fast, efficient solutions that don’t require them to repeat themselves, and for conversations to flow easily across any channel they choose, the report noted.

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More than 60% of the 1,850 customers surveyed across six countries said they sometimes, often, or always use more than one channel to contact customer service, the report found. They are also likely to jump from one channel to the next quickly: 85% of customers surveyed said they use a different contact method if they don’t get a response from their initial request, with 44% reporting they wait less than an hour to do this, according to the report.

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Here are five steps your business can take to master the omnichannel experience:

1. Roll out an integrated omnichannel approach

Companies should use their understanding of common customer questions and preferences to determine an omnichannel rollout strategy across email, webform, self-service, and live channels such as chat and phone, the report noted. This means considering the age range of the majority of your customer base, and how your support team can adapt to user preferences.

2. Add knowledge content and extend self-service

High-performing support teams invest more in self-service, the report found. These teams have 4.5 times more articles in their help centers, and far higher rates of customers finding answers from those articles instead of calling in and placing tickets. Companies should take a proactive approach to self-service when building out a help center, focusing on building and maintaining a knowledge base and improving it over time. Organizations that do this see 23% lower resolution times, and 20% fewer tickets reopened, according to the report.

3. Fully integrate live channels, especially phone support

Integrated chat and phone support takes 25 minutes off a support team’s first reply time, the report found. Customers cited automated phone trees as the leading factor driving poor customer experiences, and this is largely due to companies keeping phone systems separate from other customer support systems, the report noted.

4. Staff channels to meet customer expectations

Customers expect certain outcomes across the channels they contact for support, the report found. Standard support channels like email and webform still see much longer reply and resolution times, even when customers rate the interaction as positive, it added.

5. Offer the right channel at the right time

Study your customers to determine what channels they want to connect through most, the report said. Customers value efficiency, as more than half (54%) said the most important factor influencing which contact method they use is whether or not they need an immediate response.

“Omnichannel support is perfect for offering seamless service through all channels, allowing your support team to strategically add or deactivate channels as conditions evolve,” the report said. “It also lets your team connect channels so agents have the right context.”

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