Learn to integrate multiple customer service communication channels, such as AI-powered chatbots, contact forms, and social media into one cohesive customer experience. Discover what tools can help improve the quality of your company’s omnichannel communications.
Over 40% of customers stopped doing business with a company last year due to poor customer service, according to a report by Statista.
As consumers adjust to contacting customer service agents by methods other than the phone, their expectations on other contact channels grow. Chatbots, email, SMS, and social media provide alternate ways for customers to resolve their issues, but keeping up with an omnichannel approach to communication can be a challenge for small businesses.
In this article, we’ll examine the different customer service channels companies use, and share some tools that can help small businesses keep up with customers’ high expectations.
What is Omnichannel Customer Service?
Omnichannel customer service is the use of mixed communication channels to service consumers. These channels can include:
- The phone
- AI-powered chatbots
- Contact forms
- SMS (texting)
- Social media
- Other types of direct messaging
The challenge with omnichannel marketing lies in tracking customers’ history and behavior across multiple channels in real time to offer an intelligent and personalized experience.
Ideally, omnichannel customer services coordinate all communications channels for a unified brand experience at every touchpoint.
Business, especially ones that are small- or medium-sized, should choose a few communications channels rather than try to service customers through all channels at once.
In the next section, we’ll explain the benefits of each communication channel, to help you plan an omnichannel experience for your customers.
Communications Channels for Customer Service
Here are some of the most popular customer service channels for any business:
Customer Service by Phone
Phone communication is a crucial aspect of a quality customer service experience because a large portion of consumers still prefer voice communication above all other methods.
Recent surveys found that 38% of consumers prefer to interact with customer service by phone, and over half feel that voice communication offers the fastest resolution to their issues.
Customer Service through AI-Powered Chatbots and Social Media
Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence are getting “smarter” each year. Some of the tasks chat boxes can perform include:
- Greeting customers
- Explaining services
- Asking and answering questions
- Providing information and services
Chatbots have become more popular with consumers since more and more of them incorporate personalities that include traits such as humor and empathy.
Chatbots are commonly offered on social media sites such as Facebook.
For example, TripMunk provides a Facebook chatbot that offers travel recommendations even if you’re not sure where you want to go. Its chipmunk-themed bot is friendly and fun for users to talk with.
I told the chatbot I was looking for a beach getaway for spring break, and it presented me with options for Cancun, Cabo, and Honolulu.
Consumers have warmed up to the idea of chatbot assistance, and many use it as a first-stop customer service channel.
Nearly 60% of consumers prefer to avoid using their voice to communicate with businesses and turn to automated channels such as chatbots to contact customer service agents. Almost half of them use an automated customer service channel at least once a week.
AI-powered chatbots are essential to every business that offers online customer service. Customers expect them, and chatbots can handle many tasks that humans usually do.
Many chatbots can connect customers with a live customer service agent on request or when the issue requires a live person.
Customer Service through Live Chat
Live chat helps customers obtain personalized assistance, often in a much shorter period than they can do by phone, email, or other methods.
One company that’s mastered the live chat experience is WordPress hosting company WPX. Wordpress customer service is a challenge because the people that use the software range widely in experience levels. Many hosting companies struggle to provide phone support that can satisfy the full range of customers’ backgrounds and experience levels.
The WPX approach of offering instant access to engineers, 24 hours a day, through live chat has earned them a 4.8-star rating on Facebook.
In the example below, you can see that I was connected with a technical support specialist through live chat in under 1 minute.
When asked to prove his humanity, he replied: “I am not a cyborg madam.”
In this example, the company can offer a higher quality of service than would be possible by phone. Chats often take less than 2 minutes, and every agent can solve almost any technical issue without transferring the customer.
Creating a Cohesive Experience with Omnichannel Customer Service
Coordinating communications between multiple channels and various agents can be a challenge without the right tools. Fortunately, there are services that can help companies streamline the process.
Virtual receptionist companies provide receptionists and answering services for small and medium-sized companies across many industries.
Virtual receptionists can help ensure that companies don’t miss out on clients when unable to answer the phones. Virtual receptionists can also help improve client relations and increase the number and quality of a company’s leads.
Call Center Software
Call center software helps customer service departments access real-time customer information across multiple communication channels.
Call center software helps businesses engage customers across multiple customer service channels while offering a consistent brand experience.
While services vary, standard call center features usually include:
- Ability to seamlessly engage and communicate with customers across multiple channels such as voice, SMS, video, and more
- In-house communication and file sharing
- Omnichannel routing
- Screen pops to allow agents access to customer profiles and data in real-time
- The ability to shift a conversation from one channel to the next using a single interface
Interactive voice response (IVR) systems automate telephone communications by interacting with callers to gather information and route the call to the appropriate department or agent.
IVR’s can save businesses a great deal of time by cutting out the need for a receptionist and connecting customers with the best person to help them.
Pair Supportive Tools with Omnichannel Customer Service for a Top Quality Experience
When multiple customer service channels are available to help service customers, it can result in a higher-quality experience and more satisfied customers.
Pair omnichannel customer service with the right tools to ensure a seamless and consistent experience for customers.