According to Aberdeen Group, companies with the most robust omnichannel strategy for customer engagement retain an average of 89% of their consumers. In fact, studies consistently show that today’s customers are tired of having to repeat themselves to multiple agents on different channels. Your users want to be able to both engage with you on through the medium they choose and get the same streamlined experience no matter what. Unfortunately, while many businesses know how important it is to get customer experience (CX) right today, many are struggling with their omnichannel implementations.
Calabrio, a customer engagement software company offering analytic insights into the customer service experience, recently conducted a new study into omnichannel interactions. Their research, published in a report called “The Danger of Digital,” looks at why companies can’t just implement omnichannel services, without first having a strategy built on an understanding of their customers. Calabrio believes that today’s businesses are in such a rush to offer omnichannel that they often skip the planning and preparation required to make those channels useful for customers.
The Rising Demand for Omnichannel
You don’t need to be a communications expert to see that we’re quickly moving beyond the age of the phone conversations. Companies are seeing an increasing demand for interactions that move beyond the phone, from SMS conversations to social media interactions and more. In fact, digital channel interactions this year are expected to overtake voice conversations for the first time.
The rising demand for omnichannel interactions has left a lot of businesses in a state of panic, scrambling to offer the right communication experiences. When omnichannel is the key to delighting and retaining consumers, nobody wants to miss out. However, the rush to implement might be causing problems according to Calabrio. The customer engagement expert’s study into 1,000 customer experience leaders and marketing pros in the UK and US revealed some interesting findings.
Calabrio discovered that many organisations are still in the early days of deploying the right strategies for digital self-service. Ultimately, the problem is that these companies aren’t laying the proper groundwork internally. There’s more to successful omnichannel support than adding a new channel to your contact centre stack. You need to make sure that you have all the right pieces in place to deliver exceptional customer service.
Answering the Call for Customer Experience
Calabrio’s study found that although 93% of businesses know how important it is to give their customers a seamless experience, only around 45% think they’re actually effective at doing so. Employees aren’t adequately trained to handle a range of channels, and barriers between each avenue of communication make it harder to access contextual information.
While many businesses are putting plans in place to help them get closer to the right omnichannel implementation, only half have actually made changes to the way they hire customer support staff, according to Calabrio, which means that many organisations don’t have the expertise to handle a variety of channels. Additionally, there aren’t always the right internal strategies in place to help employees thrive in different omnichannel environments, which mean that the experience for both agents and customers takes a hit.
The CEO of Calabrio, Tom Goodmanson said that as digital channels quickly become the preferred method of service for many consumers, companies can’t afford to lose their opportunities on poor planning. Omnichannel is the way forward for many contact centres, but it’s an upgrade that requires proper planning. There’s no quick fix solution; organisations need to plan, optimize and enhance every step of the customer journey with their integrations.
In Calabrio’s opinion, the multi-channel experience goes beyond just adding new channels, and also pushes companies to look at things like their staff, and the training those employees have, and the systems they have in place to support customer interactions.
Do Companies Know What Their Customers Need?
Perhaps the biggest problem with the omnichannel efforts of companies today is that they’re jumping into action without really knowing what their customers need. According to the Calabrio study, while around 44% of companies say that they offer four or more channels to customers hoping to communicate with their brand, 58% also think that their customers only use some of those channels.
The numbers here reveal that companies don’t really know which channels their clients prefer to use in the first place. When you don’t understand what your audience actually wants from you, there’s no way you can make sure that you’re giving those customers the right experience.
At the same time, when companies do implement new channels into their omnichannel strategies, their reasons for doing so are mixed. Around 42% of businesses say that their choices are driven by a decision from a senior executive, while only 30% make decisions based on analytics and data. Even when choices are made based on information, that data is somewhat flawed. Calabrio’s study reveals that a lot of companies rely on the information they collect from social media to make decisions.
All Routes Point to Omnichannel
It’s impossible to argue with the fact that omnichannel is now one of the most important strategies a company can use to serve and delight their customers. However, it’s important for businesses to realise that omnichannel services aren’t something they can simply slap onto their existing strategy without thinking. To be effective, any communication strategy requires careful planning and implementation.
Calabrio’s research proves that if businesses want to get their offerings right, they need to invest in the right mixture of technology, processes, and people. On top of that, they also need to make sure that they understand what their customers really want before they start adding new channels to the mix.
The latest study was announced at C3; the Calabrio Customer Connect annual user conference. The conference offers two and a half days of in-depth networking and learning, along with dozens of breakout sessions and roundtable discussions. Also announced at this year’s conference was the second annual customer award program from C3. The “ONE” awards will celebrate companies that are doing omnichannel the right way, and supporting their customers with the latest innovative solutions.