The prevailing sentiment of customer service executives is that the time to join the bleeding edge of omni-channel implementation is over.
But new data from The State of Digital Care 2018 shows that this is simply not the case.
Just over half (54 percent) of respondents indicated that their expectations were met by digital customer service in 2017. Even worse, just 7 percent felt as if digital customer service was exceeding their expectations.
While there’s no doubt that omni-channel customer service is on the rise, the idea that it’s too late to be an early adopter is simply false. Even among those who recognize the importance of omni-channel, there’s an ongoing struggle to implement the strategy.
It’s clearly still a great time to either take the plunge into omni-channel customer service, or reassess your existing implementation efforts. To help you do that, we’re going to address how to overcome any current challenges that exist when trying to implement an omni-channel strategy and solution.
The Challenge of Change
Any change to the way an organization operates is going to be met with resistance. Think about the first Blackberry loyalist who regarded an iPhone with utter disdain when first using it, despite the obviously superior technology.
With omni-channel, this is an especially difficult challenge, because you’re not just introducing new technology, you’re also changing your business model. At the very least, marketing departments will have to work closely with IT to implement a system that works for both of them.
Marketing employees may require training on specific IT constraints to build new processes or help IT establish new policies that meet the goals of both departments. Since every business is unique, there’s no magic bullet, but take the time to build integrations between departments before you even address the technological aspect of implementing omni-channel.
Where to Start?
You don’t need to, nor should you, integrate every single possible channel into your omni-channel strategy. For many companies, this may even be impossible. But even if it’s not, in the early stages of an omni-channel implementation, it’s important to start with a partial implementation.
The Harvard Business Review emphasizes the importance of this by detailing the need for managers to highlight quick wins.
Of course, while you should be laying the groundwork for a larger, future rollout, a partial implementation enables an approach that’s more manageable for everyone. As with any project, you won’t know all the obstacles in front of you until you start. By using a phased approach, later phases will be more seamless because you will have learned what unique challenges might lie ahead.
Moreover, you can set priorities based on your individual circumstances. For example, if there are specific digital channels in which your best customers frequently interact with you, that may be a good place to start. When you get results, that will provide a tailwind to help you secure the buy-in of your team, making later phases even more manageable.
Orienting Yourself to Your Customers
Who your customers are and how they interact with you, whether it’s before, during or after a sale, should be the focus of your omni-channel strategy. After all, the goal of omni-channel is to provide a seamless customer experience for your customers.
So before you begin your implementation, interact with your brand as though you were a customer. Interact with a product landing page, then contact customer support; observe the process.
How easy is it for someone who clicked on an ad and bought a product to contact customer support? Are those first two interactions (seeing the ad and buying the product) aligned with the customer support interaction?
What confirmation emails are being sent? Is there an opportunity to address common potential issues or questions before your customer has them?
When you begin to see every touchpoint as an opportunity to improve the customer experience with support or otherwise, the opportunities are endless.
Conclusion: Omni-Channel, A Pending Prerequisite for Customer Service
While it appears as though many brands are still struggling to fully implement their omni-channel strategy, that doesn’t mean it’s a good time to relax. Rather, given rising customer expectations, and the seemingly endless proliferation of digital channels, the time is now to get this right.
In The State of Digital Care, an astronomical 81 percent of respondents said that their expectations for digital customer service have risen over the past year. While you could argue that expectations won’t continue at this torrid, upward pace, there’s no reason to think that customers will be lowering their expectations any time soon.
What’s more, given the ever-expanding reach of digital channels, the need to integrate customer experiences across these channels will become even more pressing. This makes it clear that, before long, an omni-channel approach to customer service will become a prerequisite to long-term success.