You're about to order your morning cup o' joe. A tall, nonfat latte with caramel drizzle -- the same treat you start every morning with. As you approach the counter today, however, you realize the balance on your Starbucks account is down to mere pennies. Unphased, you order anyway. During the time it takes for your expert barista to prepare your caffeinated concoction, you've reloaded your account from your mobile phone and are now prepared to pay your balance. Without missing a beat, the transaction from phone, to web, to customer care system, to point-of-sale have progressed seamlessly. You didn't even have to step out of line, your day started without pause.
That type of experience is why many consumers and experts alike point to the Seattle-based coffee company as one of the top omni-channel experiences available. Starbucks isn't alone in creating that type of service, however. Companies like Disney, Chipotle and REI are doing it as well. Blogger and technology enthusiast Robert Fransgaard tells an interesting story about his omni-channel customer service experience with Virgin Atlantic which he claims provided “...a more personalised treatment.”
Omni-channel customer services are no longer nice to have; they are a must-have. And, with the advent of the contact center in the cloud, it's no longer just for the big guys. Omni-channel service options enable users to choose how they preferred to be served: touch, type, view or talk. Expect your customers to demand resolution to their issues on their time via their preferred choice of communication—whether it be voice, web, email, social media or video. But remember, offering each of those channels (a strategy that most businesses adopt today) to connect with customers does not necessarily create an omni-channel experience. While your customers may engage each of these platforms, unless they are offered an experience that is seamless in continuity and consistent in messaging across each of these channels, they may be left with a less than optimal impression of how you feel about them.
Extending the Contact Center Beyond One-off Channel Transactions
Businesses that develop omni-channel customer service strategies and engage customers through a variety of channels can come out ahead in several areas:
Loyalty - Companies that enable people to connect any place, any time, can better convert customers into devoted fans.
Personalization - Location-based mobile technology provides a meaningful opportunity to personalize service and add relevancy.
Consistency - Companies that update information via their smart mobile app communicate uniform answers to customers and reduce misunderstanding.
Cost - Self-service empowers customers to solve their own problems using troubleshooting tools and diagnostics—before they need to speak with an agent.
Aberdeen Group in their report Omni-channel Customer Care, states that companies that follow omni-channel best practices achieve an 89% customer retention rate. Furthermore, those same companies typically grow their year-over-year revenue by 9.5%.
Bringing an omni-channel approach to your company
Each company's approach to delivering omni-channel service will be as unique as the company itself. Fortunately, moving your contact center to the cloud can give you plenty of options-- from efficiencies to latest-generation technology. These tools enable you to capture and retain more of the $5.9 trillion market that customers worldwide take with them when they switch from one company to another (according to Accenture.) For successful implementation, you’ll need to work cross-functionally to develop a strategy that meets your goals and maintains continuity. You'll also need to make sure you include the following stakeholders in the conversation:
- Customer Service
- Staff directly involved in the experience
With key team members on board, you can start planning the transition to your cloud based omni-channel model. Including these departments early on means there'll be less of a headache down the road, so you can be sure that Starbucks (or any of the other notable players in the omni-channel space) have nothing on you when it comes to customer service.
By putting a strategic system into place in your call center, you can avoid losing customers due to unsatisfactory service. Learn how to do this by reading our eBook -- 3 Ways to Inspire Customer Loyalty.