Today’s customers engage with companies through a multitude of channels such as chat, email, phone and SMS. As companies scramble to enable these multi-channel conversations, they need to keep in mind that the fundamental need for developing customer loyalty hasn’t changed. Loyal, happy and engaged customers tend to buy more than those that are not.
The way customers connect with companies has made the activity of creating and nurturing these loyal customers much more complex.
Let’s take a closer look at changes in customer behavior and what that means to contact centers.
Customers now generally connect to organizations and develop long-standing relationships in multiple ways. Sixty-six percent of global respondents to the Microsoft report say they actively use three or more channels to connect with a brand.
There is a desire from consumers to connect in the way most convenient to them and they are willing to leave an organization if they are not satisfied. As the demand for omnichannel grows, so too must the technological capabilities of your contact center. With so many channels regularly used and with the younger generation of consumers embracing more innovative, technologically advanced methods of connection, omnichannel has shifted the technological needs of the modern contact center.
Voice-only interaction is a thing of the past, and in order to survive in the competitive modern marketplace, contact centers must not only add the digital channels wanted by customers but also provide assisted digital and self-service areas connected cohesively to other channels and insights.
Customers are not generally picking favorite channels either, further emphasizing the technological shift. Email, live chat, telephone, self-service, search engine, social media and online community channels are all used by more than 15% of global respondents to the Microsoft survey. Amongst those aged 18-34 (the big spending consumers of tomorrow) mobile app, chatbot and social media usage jumps well above the global mean, indicating a generational shift and creating additional challenges in the development and maintenance of multiple channels.
Great Customer Service is key to building loyalty
The process of establishing loyalty goes beyond an initial experience of buying a product or service. Globally, 96% of respondents to the 2017 Microsoft State of Global Customer Service report said that customer service is important to them in their choice of or loyalty to a brand. How you interact and engage with your customers is becoming increasingly important, and this is where brands employing omnichannel can get ahead. Service is a key differentiator in brand choice and a relationship-based omnichannel strategy can help you serve customers in the way they demand.
In a recent report published by Accenture, two-thirds of customers said they abandoned at least one of their providers due to poor customer service. We now operate in a “switching economy” where customers are empowered to move away from brands who are not serving them well. This turnover (or churn rate) has increased by 20% in recent years. Brands need to be aware the ease of which customers can switch providers and their growing willingness to do so. People will leave because of poor customer service.
Great customer service can be provided when customer engagements are rich, informed, and relevant. This means being able to carry on a conversation across channels and across multiple sessions.
Omnichannel interactions into relationships
Every interaction across every channel should be used as an opportunity to develop brand loyalty. Making these interactions cohesive can develop highly engaged customers that in turn will become loyal ambassadors. The key to having such omnichannel conversations is being able to join previous interactions and provide customers with options or answers that are relevant to their need.
This connected journey allows brands to add context to interactions and add the personal touch to customer service, as they can better anticipate the needs of customers. Brands adopting effective omnichannel strategies achieve 91 percent greater year on year retention rates compared with businesses that don’t, with an average of a 9.5 percent annual increase in revenue when compared to those who employ weak omnichannel methods.
Valuable customer experiences will be the primary factor that differentiates brands that win, serve and retain customers. Building relationships through connected interactions will lead to more satisfied customers who are more likely to spend, remain loyal and recommend your brand to friends and family. Strengthening and developing your omnichannel strategy will help you build these relationships that are proven to increase customer retention and grow revenue.