These days, brand loyalty doesn’t just fall into your lap. As a business, you must work hard to deliver customer support that consistently exceeds expectations. One such expectation is customer support channels that make contacting your business more convenient. It is important to take note that 66% of consumers use at least three different communication channels to contact a brand.
A survey further reveals that phone, email, and live chat receive the highest user engagement at 82%, 62%, and 43% respectively. These support channels present several unique opportunities to nurture the relationship with your customers and as well as a chance to promote other products and services. Needless to say, offering just one support channel may lead to missed opportunities and dissatisfied customers.
Thankfully, there is omnichannel support and multichannel customer support. The question is: Should your customer support be omnichannel or multichannel?
Here’s what you need to know about each of these terms. Once you get a good grasp of what your business needs, you can discuss your options with your customer support outsourcing provider (if you’re working with one).
Multichannel support is simply giving your customers at least one channel for instant, and one channel for delayed communication. For example, having a hotline managed by phone support agents, and an email queue managed by email support agents. In a multichannel system, you use a combination of different channels to provide customer support at various levels. You’ll need to invest in a team and framework that can handle multichannel customer support.
The costs you might incur in setting up multichannel support will be worth the range and quality of benefits that you and your customers get to enjoy. These include:
More options to choose from. For your customer support to be effective, you should allow your customers to contact you whenever and however they want to. By offering multiple methods of communication, you’re giving your customers the freedom to utilize the channel that they’re most comfortable in. Someone who doesn’t like verbal communication won’t use a phone to get their message across to you, and that customer will feel relieved that there’s an option for email or live chat instead.
Appropriateness of channel depending on the situation. Customers have different needs or concerns that they want to be addressed efficiently. The type of situation they’re in can help you determine whether the assistance they’re looking for requires a conversation with live agents or through a chatbot. By providing your customers with multiple communication channels, they can decide on the most appropriate medium to handle their case.
Multichannel support fits all businesses of whatever size. From small e-commerce stores to multinational companies like Samsung, the takeaway is clear: meeting customers on their preferred channel is a way for your business to serve and connect with more customers at every possible touchpoint.
Omnichannel support entails not only multiple manned channels, but it also requires that these channels work together. For example, when a customer places and confirms an order with a live chat agent, an invoice email is sent after the transaction was closed over chat.
Indeed, the main difference between omnichannel support and multichannel support is that the former involves seamless integration of all available channels into one cohesive system. This means that customers can move from one channel to another and continue their previous interaction from where they left off.
Here are some advantages that await omnichannel users:
Well-connected customer support. As mentioned above, it doesn’t matter which channel a customer used first to contact you, so long as the channel they prefer is available. The interaction may continue in a different channel without the customer having to give the details repeatedly in order to facilitate the support. This is crucial because customers hate repeating themselves and a number of studies back this up. With omnichannel support, a customer who’s on live chat with an agent can easily transition to phone support where a customer support representative can give further assistance. This is possible since agents get to share notes about their interactions with customers across channels in the entire system.
Data-driven. With the integration of platforms in omnichannel support, it’s easy for you to consolidate customer data and store them in your customer relationship management (CRM) software. Since the data is holistic, integrated, and centralized, it becomes a valuable source of information that you can use toward optimization of your business processes.
Entertainment company Disney uses omnichannel customer support to the hilt. A customer can do anything within the customer engagement cycle from a single app. Like Disney’s mobile app, you can offer a seamless experience through an omnichannel solution in customer support.
There’s no clear-cut answer to the question as to whether you should use multichannel or omnichannel customer support. What is certain though is that you need to look at the issue from different angles, taking into consideration such factors as budget, company size, and clientele.
If your business is still in its early stages, it might make more sense to start with multiple methods of communication. Even if you have channels that are distinct or separate from one another, you could still stay on top of everything since you’re dealing with a manageable number of customers. As your customer base grows, you may then consider bringing all communication channels together to create an omnichannel support system, where customer experience is consistent and seamless.
HubSpot offers a good perspective on the value of each type of customer support by saying: “All omnichannel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel.”
At the end of the day, both omnichannel and multichannel support can help the day-to-day interactions with your customers. It’s only a matter of ensuring that you focus on an overall positive experience for your customers, so they’ll be loyal to your brand. Remember, 51% of consumers will not hesitate to switch after one bad customer service experiences.
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