The omnichannel experience is a term that most business owners will hear about but very few can implement them successfully. Many make the mistake of thinking that providing three or four channels for customers to contact the company is providing a full-fledged omnichannel experience.

To really achieve an omnichannel customer experience a business needs to view their multiple service channels as a single force that works flawlessly together. A successful multi-channel service ensures that each one is completely integrated and consistently supports each other channel a customer may use.

The majority of companies have different departments running each form of contact: email, phone, web forms and text messages. This may, at first, seem the most efficient form of management, but customers see a company as being a single force and therefore already assume an omnichannel customer experience.

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The fact that very few companies pay close attention to the integration of their connection channels means that there is a gulf between what the customer expects and what the company supplies. In order to avoid this common mistake here are five steps to follow for an efficient omnichannel contact experience.

1) Create A Variety Of Support Channels

The easiest place to start is to review if the company is offering all of the support channels that customers actually want. Carefully considering the customer and their preferred method of seeking information in their daily lives will help to make the contact avenues more efficient.

The most obvious place to see these mistakes is with phone-calls. The majority of companies will offer phone support as their main assistance channel. The average American will make between 1-5 phone calls a day, and that same individual will send and receive over 10 times as many text messages. With these statistics, it is strange to consider that very few companies offer text message-based contact channels.

Implementing certain channels of contact can be costly but to combat this each company should identify the three or four most desired avenues and only offer these to their clients. This will boost a customer’s willingness to contact the company and their overall experience. The chosen channels will vary based on the customers but should always be promoted on existing channels.

2) Centralize The Storage Of Customer Data

Centralizing data will change everything. One of the most annoying issues for a customer is having to explain the same problem to several service reps. Once a company has their chosen channels in place, then the first step to making these into an omnichannel customer experience is to combine all data in one central location.

This means that every member of the customer service team will have the same information and can pick up each conversation exactly where it finished last. This step is one of the easiest to implement and has extremely quick beneficial effects.

3) Integrate Channels

Having the channels in place that customers really want is a great start but until these channels are integrated, they can still cause problems. Customers not only want to contact a company in their preferred manner, but they also want a smooth and seamless experience. Switching between channels is rarely an easy thing to do with most companies.

Using an omnichannel communication platform will track exactly at what stage each customer’s interaction is with the company. The benefits of integrating the channels are huge. Firstly the service can be personalized, and each customer will feel the company is closely following their communication.

A second benefit is that each channel that suits the situation can be used. For example, text messages can be used for quick updates on information, which could be quickly switched to a live chat version if the information is not completely understood.

Aim to make everything quick, simple, and designed to benefit the customer as much as possible.

4) Automate

Live agents and the related waiting times can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a company to a customer. Automating at least a portion of the contact routes means that the business can offer a cheaper, more informed and more efficient customer experience.

Many companies avoid automation from fear of losing touch with their customers, but the reality is that the world is moving towards being completely free of human-to-human interaction for many processes, just consider purchasing train tickets, bank transactions, and airline check-ins. Considering where a company can automate without becoming annoyingly difficult to contact is the key to a successful omnichannel experience.

5) Form An Action Plan

Following these four steps shows just how simple the theory behind an omnichannel experience is but should highlight that implementing it in reality is not quite as straightforward. Therefore, it is important to create an action plan to make sure the business is on its way to integrating all of the channels and make the customer experience the best possible. The key to success is to follow these steps:

  1. Research: Spend sufficient time finding the channels that are most used by customers or those that they would prefer to have as options. The assumption is the enemy in this step; often the business owner would approach a company in a far different way than the average customer. Conduct questionnaires to gather this information.
  2. Centralize: As soon as possible move all data into a single location. Find a cloud-hosting platform that suits the number of customer records the company has. Research which platform suits the company in regards of size, usage levels, and the price.
  3. Communication Platform: Find a company that offers a multiple communication platform that allows flawless switching between each channel. The best company to go for is one that offers complete integration and some level of automation.

The most important part of creating an omnichannel experience is to consider customer care. Each company will have a slightly different model that focuses more on a variety of channels, understanding the customer will make sure the business does everything to make communication as perfect as possible. Following the five given steps will put any company well on its way to achieving this.

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