Omnichannel customer support refers to customer service across an integrated range of channels, such as email, social media, text, web chat, and calls.
Done correctly, omnichannel support enables you to meet customers where they are and give them a seamless experience no matter which channel they use to interact with at any given point in time.
Traditional phone customer service will continue to be vital, but customer expectations in the digital age demand much more. Communication channels like email, text, and chat allow for round-the-clock support and prompt answers to commonly asked questions, with phone calls reserved for more complex or urgent queries.
But simply offering multiple channels isn’t enough. Businesses need to provide consistent and reliable services on each so that customers can be certain of a prompt, customer-centric response. With the right resources and customer service teams, omnichannel support can provide:
- Faster times to resolution
- A more personalised customer journey
- Increased customer satisfaction
Over time, this translates into improved business efficiency and a stronger market reputation.
In this article, we’ll explore just why omnichannel customer support is so important, and how it could help your business to grow.
The continuing relevance of phone support
The need for phone support isn’t going away anytime soon. 76% of customers still prefer to use the phone, and it’s the most popular channel of communication across age groups.1
Phone support offers familiarity, which is key to keeping customers happy. However, it is vital to ensure phone support lines are flexible, scalable, and consistently reliable. This means:
- Expanding your team: You need to have enough customer support agents available to answer the phone with minimal wait times, even during peak hours.
- Demonstrating customer service experience: Your agents need to be people who understand where the customer is coming from and deliver consistent support that’s in line with company messaging.
- Being prepared for high demand: Ensure you are prepared for periods of high demand to keep customer satisfaction levels high.
Each of these requirements mean that phone support is certainly not the most cost-effective customer service solution. Nonetheless, it remains one of the most important.
Suggested reading: 5 ways to improve omnichannel customer experience
The value of AI self-service
In 2023, customer service is all about efficiency and convenience.
Self-service is the perfect solution to that — with AI-powered chatbots, customers can get the answers they need, whenever they need them, without having to wait on hold. Chatbots are a powerful omnichannel tool that help you be there for your customers 24/7, and can help reduce customer service costs over time.
Whether on the official website or on acompany’s Facebook page, chatbots can answer common questions and help with basic actions — such as making a return, checking the status of an order, or booking an appointment — redirecting to an agent only if necessary. At the agent’s end, AI self-service:
- Provides a constant inflow of customer data across different channels, ensuring that the agent can take the customer interaction forward while avoiding repetitions.
- Reduces the number of unnecessary calls the agent has to handle, helping with their work capacity.
- Enables faster problem resolutions and higher customer satisfaction ratings, as agents can spend more time with each of their customers.
Going forward, 79% of contact centre leaders report that they plan to invest in greater AI capabilities within two years, emphasising the importance of using technology in customer service strategies.2
Utilising human text-based responses
As much as AI has dominated conversations around customer support, the ‘human touch’ is still hugely valuable.
Studies have shown that simply personalising your messaging by adding a name or signature can increase a customer’s willingness to pay,3 and when it comes to customer service, 75% of customers prefer an authentic human voice over a branded response.4
AI chatbots are perfect for routine queries and give your customers a 24/7 access point to reach out to. However, chatbots work best when combined with multiple different types of customer service. These could include:
- Text messages
- Web forms
- Social media
- Human live chat support
The first three can happen asynchronously — a customer drops an email or a Tweet and the customer support team gets back as soon as they can. Live chat serves as a core supplement to chatbots, in case automated responses don’t answer a customer query, a human agent can immediately step in.
The goal is for customers to know that they always have a person on the other end who can give them the support they need, should technology alone fail.
Providing this kind of comprehensive support will boost trust in your brand and can improve the omnichannel customer experience. In the long term, you are likely to see more customers engaging with your brand and recommending you to their peers.
Having everything connected to your CRM
Your business needs to be able to keep pace with your customers, no matter which channel (or channels) they navigate. And this is something a lot of brands struggle with.
Connecting your support system through a single CRM platform will ensure that your customer service agents aren’t overwhelmed by all the different channels that they have to use. A good CRM system should:
- Synthesise information into a single, highly readable dashboard.
- Streamline agent workflows and make the relevant information available to them in real time.
- Intelligently assess data to ensure customers are receiving personalised services, ultimately reducing customer churn.
However, developing an omnichannel approach and integrating customer support into primary CRM systems won’t be realistic for all businesses. Complex, multi-system omnichannel support demands significant resources and emotional investment, which can be a particular challenge for fast-growing medium-sized companies.
How outsourced customer support can help
Outsourcing your omnichannel customer support to a distributed contact centre enables you to work with experienced agents who have a deep understanding of your customers and their needs.
Customer service outsourcing ensures you get all of the benefits of omnichannel customer service, without the heavy financial or emotional investment. With an outsourced provider, you can:
- Meet customers where they are: External customer support teams should have a good knowledge of your customers and which digital channels they typically use. This means you can meet customers where they are, and proactively anticipate their needs.
- Support in-house agents: Outsourcing can take the burden off your in-house agents and thus help them to deliver better service under less time pressure.
- Make the most of omnichannel: Outsourced providers generally have greater access to customer service software and omnichannel integration systems.
Pro tip: Explore our customer service outsourcing pricing page to learn more about the cost savings of outsourced support.
The outlook for omnichannel customer support in 2023
The companies that will lead the way in 2023 will be the ones that know their customer, anticipate their needs, and meet those needs consistently.
An omnichannel customer service strategy can help you to provide faster paths to resolution and improve your customer care.
Although developments in AI and omnichannel support might suggest that customer service is increasingly becoming digitised, the human aspect will remain important in 2023 and beyond. Customers want to interact with real people that are understanding, trustworthy, and can admit their mistakes.5
When you outsource your omnichannel support to Odondo, we match our resources to your needs. You pay only for the services you use, scaling up or down as necessary. If you grow, Odondo grows with you, enabling a strong customer service ROI.
No matter how large or small your customer base is, you can onboard the best customer agents in as little as 48 hours.
Aamir is one of the Co-Founders at Odondo, where he obsesses over the details to deliver a strong and compelling proposition for each of his clients.
Prior to Odondo, he was CTO at one of the UK's largest price comparison websites, with contact centres in the UK and India. In his spare time, he loves reading, politics, tennis, and playing the piano (badly).