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Omnichannel experiences are now more than just an opportunity for business–they’re becoming an expectation for consumers. But many companies aren’t doing enough to meet customer needs and provide exceptional experiences. Instead, they’re bouncing customers around between different channels and creating a disjointed customer experience. While they undoubtedly have good intentions here, they’re also missing out.

The omnichannel strategy orchestrates all channels a customer chooses to use, which is more efficient or pleasant than offering a single channel in isolation. It’s supposed to be an opportunity to solve customer problems and provide truly meaningful service wherever they are. But are they truly delivering on that promise?

It’s refreshing to see companies place a renewed emphasis on customer service needs when it happens. That said, some omnichannel approaches aren’t going far enough. The seamless service customers want isn’t a universal reality yet.

Connect With Customers

Organizations that are able to deliver better omnichannel experiences are positioned well to compete effectively in today’s marketplaces. While we’re still in many respects at the beginning of this revolution in customer experiences, companies that don’t prepare themselves for action may struggle to connect effectively with consumers.

If you are looking to connect with your customers where they are and provide them with a consistent experience, an omnichannel approach allows you to do more and reach more of your customer base–but only if it’s done correctly.

This is where many fail. Offering customer serivce on Twitter might be nice to have. Many kinds of transactions just can’t be handled there, forcing the representative to bounce the customer to another communication channel – most likely phone or email.

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Omnichannel Strikes a Chord with Today’s Consumer

Omnichannel is helping today’s companies provide customized and relevant customer service to a larger number of people. Now, it’s more cost-effective and practical than ever to offer personalized service. In an era when customers have more options and can expect a fast, flexible service experience, omnichannel companies are better prepared to be responsive to customer needs and desires.

Customers are using different channels to help them accomplish different tasks. Digital experiences online are being used alongside in-person and phone-based service depending on the type of query or the level of complexity involved.

That said, there’s a wrong way to do omnichannel. If your digital channels don’t provide a value-added function for customers and only serve to send them on into new channels, it’ll do little good at all to provide omnichannel service.

Omnichannel is Disconnected and Only Half-Way-There

Brands that lean too much into omnichannel strategies without a consistent and connected experience are making a grave mistake. In an attempt to attract younger consumers, all too many companies are rushing towards digital channels and cutting their in-person and phone-based customer service or leaving these different channels to all be disconnected from each other. There is little cross-channel similarity in messaging, functional connections, or problem-solving that provides value to the customer. This is unfortunate and reflects a limited view of customer service and experience trends.

As an example of how this disconnect works, consider how frustrating it can be for someone who’s trying to address a specific problem. A customer begins looking for a solution to their problem through one channel. Let’s say they begin accessing their account online. From there, they realize they’ll actually need to call customer service. When they call, they receive new information and have to share their story all over again–explaining the problem to several different agents and being transferred to different departments. The company’s phone app is yet another channel they try after becoming frustrated with the level of service they received. From there, they realize the phone app provides different options and doesn’t connect to the full features of their online account. It also has a different-enough look and feel that it feels like a completely different experience. The customer just feels confused and wonders why they have so many channels to communicate with the company, but it still doesn’t feel like they’re getting through and effectively communicating.

Different Services for Different Tasks

For a simple problem, a sizable percentage of consumers prefer online service or a phone call, with 44 percent expressing a preference for an electronic method (CustomerThink). As customers have more complex problems to solve, these preferences change. Two-thirds want to speak directly to a real person if they’re trying to resolve a complicated challenge or if they have a more sophisticated need. Urgent or serious needs generally merit a phone call (45 percent) or in-person meeting (23 percent) for many consumers.

Consumers expect to have varying levels of service depending on their needs at that moment. A combination of digital tools in the phone call or customer service interaction vastly improves the experience whichever channel the customer chooses.

Capture the Real Power of Omnichannel

So, then, in spite of all of this innovation and a new wave of omnichannel options, there’s still a huge disconnect between what consumers want and what companies plan to offer. Interestingly, consumers still place a much greater emphasis on personal and human approaches than companies believe (or, perhaps, are willing to offer).

Companies are wanting to appear innovative and technologically-relevant by offering more and more digital experiences. Yet customers want personal and human interaction, which is still much more important, even for Millennials. It seems as though every company these days wants to create an app and close their in-person service options, but this is a losing strategy if we consider the data.

For instance, 32 percent of companies are planning to roll-out live chat soon, but less than five percent of customers have expressed interest (CustomerThink). 23 percent of consumers want companies to offer in-person service, but just 11 percent of organizations are planning to do just that. Almost 20 percent of companies want to offer video chat–something that only one or two percent of customers are actually looking for. The real-life data on what channels resonate the most with customers right now contrasts with what companies are planning to offer. Customers aren’t necessarily getting the service experience they’re looking for. For your organization, this could present a key opportunity.

Knowing this, it makes sense for companies to adapt not only to the needs of the future, but also to the interests of today’s consumers. Your customers today may have a very different idea of what’s necessary for high-quality and relevant service. If you’re not offering channels that align with your customers’ needs, you could be missing out on connecting with key segments of your customer base.

The “Any”-Channel Solution

Executing the omnichannel strategy successfully requires a little planning and organization. Having a platform that seamlessly integrates together multiple channels can help your organization reach customers wherever they’re at in the sales process and with whatever challenges and needs they’re experiencing in the moment.

This allows you to become more adaptable and flexible in your customer service. It’s more than just having social media-based service. You also need to coordinate messaging, processes, and systems across each channel. And with automation, more of these experiences can be personalized based on insights you have about individual customers and previous interactions you’ve had. This is where real customer focused omnichannel comes in. This can all happen without doing so at the expense of a personal, human touch in customer service, whether it be in a call, chat or mobile app. You can advance your organization’s customer experience and make your message increasingly relevant for today’s consumers.

Lightico is beyond omnichannel by empowering customers and the customer service and sales agents to work better together by bringing key supporting digital tools into the experience in any channel. Agents are more effective in selling, servicing and collecting information when they enrich their conversations with digital tools.

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