How is omnichannel raising customer service expectations?

Discussion
Mar 13, 2015

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

Adding a myriad of devices and resources to their unique shopping experiences, omnichannel consumers are expecting more out of service experiences — from initial engagement with a brand or retailer to post-purchase interactions.

"Customers are, as a rule, better informed than they have ever been, and are tending not to settle for the ‘warm body on the phone’ methods used by many businesses that haven’t put time, effort and investment into good customer service," said Roy Atkinson, a Principal with Clifton Butterfield, LLC, a consulting the training firm.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages and educational YouTube videos, can add a level of self-service that empowers consumers to answer questions on their own.

Live chat and video chat have also gained popularity as efficient ways for service representatives to engage with consumers in a more personal, one-to-one fashion. Supporting this point, 40 percent of consumers say that being able to connect with a brand representative via chat or video chat to have questions answered would help them have a better online shopping experience, according to research from Moxie.

Once consumers make the initial engagement with a chat representative, they expect a quick response: In less than three minutes to be exact, according to Tyler Walton, marketing manager of Clutch. Said Mr. Walton, "In this texting/emailing culture, many consumers prefer to solve problems through the written word rather than spoken word."

While promising to help retailers address issues faster than ever before, digital channels still have to address consumers’ top complaint: having to repeat information as they hop from channel to channel. Team members need to have detailed summaries of past purchases, browsing history, as well as past customer service inquiries and interactions — across the call center, the store, e-mail and even live chat and social media.

David VanAmburg, managing director of American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) said internet-based customer service mechanisms, such as email and online chat features, consistently trump call centers in retail and a host of other service industries for ease-of-use and overall satisfaction.

As internet penetration in the U.S. approaches 90 percent of households, Mr. VanAmburg argued that "it is all the more incumbent on retailers to steer traffic to online channels that are more efficient for customers to shop, and communicate and far less costly for retailers to build and maintain."

"Customers will use the web or another electronic means to address simpler issues or questions, but when things get difficult, they want to talk to a live person," Mr. Atkinson explained.

In what ways has omnichannel retailing and social media raised expectations around customer service? Can live chats and e-mail correspondence resolve customer issues more effectively than call centers and in-store customer service?

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12 Comments on "How is omnichannel raising customer service expectations?"


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Dave Wendland
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

Today’s consumer follows a soon-to-be the “new normal” mantra: “IWWIWWIWI” (I want what I what when I want it). That’s the true definition of a seamless, always-on, omni-channel experience. Perhaps the Backstreet Boys had it right when they recorded, “I Want It That Way.”

Retailers are now facing an inflection point in the industry wherein the overall experience—assortment, customer service, value for money, accessibility and rewards—have become prerequisites to loyalty. Live chats, email and perhaps even FaceTime conversations will be omnipresent.

Those retailers that are already looking around the corner to the next great innovation will become the leaders.

Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

Customers expect their issues and questions to be addressed promptly and completely, whether by phone, live chat or email. Brands and retailers have empowered consumers and now they must live up to their expectations. From “Have it your way” to “You’re the one,” consumers have set their expectations and a rote response from someone in India just doesn’t cut it. Customer service is more important than ever, since every issue has the potential to win a brand high praise or verbal damnation, either of which could go viral with the click of a mouse.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

We all know that the 21st century consumer is in push button mode with no sign of relief. Offering 1990s solution techniques for product and service issues will remove the consumer from the customer list out loud, as in derogatory remarks aimed at retailers over social media venues. E-mail, voice mail and chat are a nice way to remove the tensions that appear when consumers detect, usually from an apparent foreign voice accent, overseas and possibly third-party assistance. A true omni-channel experience will have built within its own system an even faster, direct and fully empowered live solution center. To provide anything else is unacceptable from the consumer perspective. And the consumer perspective is all that counts in terms of business and a long term relationship.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
7 years 2 months ago

There is a new normal. And the pace of change escalates. If you were to fast forward to the near future you’ll probably need Siri-like routers to a network of experts that include folks in the back office, available product experts in your stores, access to customers-experts who offer their services for free or at a nominal price, access to vendors, access to service companies. Perhaps you’ll be able to choose the expert based on their availability and rating. This is already happening in other verticals to a degree (health care.) So…what can you do? Well, I am not an expert, and this is free advice, so for what it’s worth:

  • Learn how to learn from everywhere – you can start that now
  • Learn how to turn those learnings into content – you can do that later
  • Learn how to enlist and manage your communities – this will have policy and budget issues so start talking about that now.
Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
7 years 2 months ago

I still find a lot of online retailers and service companies haven’t integrated voice, chat, e-mail, and social media interaction to the point where it is benefitting consumers. One hand very often doesn’t know what the other is doing. Just today I saw a consumer try to engage with @fedexhelp over a period of several hours, only to get stonewalled by the company. It also surprised me that their Twitter help service is only open during business hours. I have found chat help to be close to useless, as lower ability employees are handling this, or it is outsourced to a third party, who is almost never able to help.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

Social Media Analytics (SMA) capabilities are critical for retail and CPG brands to leverage in the omnichannel experience. Omnichannel retailing requires omnichannel customer service. We have case study examples where a brand completely revised their global marketing strategy based upon findings from SMA.

Lee Peterson
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

To me it’s about the burden of fulfillment. In that, due to the simplicity of online purchasing, whether it’s “one click” or customer reviews, price comping or anything, anywhere, anytime, it’s all about fulfilling the order. Something stores suck at it because they’re so one dimensional, but could learn a lot from their online relatives.

Ex: We found out in our own studies that online reviews were more important than touch and feel to younger consumers. But where are they in stores? Bringing those expectations to store level will be the go/no-go for brands in the future—tying the best of omni back into physical.

Arie Shpanya
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

If consumers are able to shop using any medium they choose, it only makes sense to also have customer service also fit whatever preferences they might have. No matter what medium a customer uses, if their issue is resolved then it has been successful. While live-chat and email are newer, they aren’t necessarily better. There must be a high bar set for all modes of correspondence to achieve a uniform quality of customer service.

Tracey Wallace
Guest
Tracey Wallace
7 years 2 months ago
More than an omni-channel push by both consumers and technology companies (think Apple, Amazon, etc.), this expectation for increased and improved customer service lends itself in large part to big data. Yes big data can be scary and has certain privacy limitations and concerns, but customers are beginning to sense and thus expect the convenience derived from big data use. This has made the need for personalization a cornerstone of new retail marketing experiences. Big data has also helped to decrease abandoned cart. Customers expect to be treated like the individuals that they are, and to do that at scale companies need to not only collect (ethically of course), but also use big data to do so. Live chats can be affected by big data. Big data can help a customer service representative understand where a customer currently is on the site what they typically do, what they typically buy and who they have talked to at the company previously, if anyone. All of these things add layers to the experience and provide increased customization.… Read more »
Seeta Hariharan
Guest
7 years 2 months ago
As the rules of customer engagement continue to evolve in the digital age, organizations must find new and more effective ways to deliver the services and experiences their digitally savvy, omnichannel customers expect. With the number of customer touch-points growing daily, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage each customer interaction consistently. How many times have you had to answer the same questions over and over when reporting a problem or concern? Customer analytics are needed to help enterprises exploit all channels and data sources and create a 720 degree view of each customer. When shared across the enterprise, this comprehensive customer profile can be used to ensure that every customer interaction is personalized and consistent. Mobile is another game changer. As customers spend more and more time on their mobile devices, their expectations for information anytime, anywhere continues to grow. Customer service representatives must find ways to address consumers growing expectations for instant accessibility and contact. Social media also provides heightened expectations for real-time engagement. Customers expect instant responses to inquiries and complaints shared on… Read more »
Martina Olsen
Guest
Martina Olsen
7 years 2 months ago
Very much so, I think—everyone is online and reachable for the vast majority of their time and expects the same from brands and businesses. I do myself. I like to be given options about how to contact someone. If it is urgent I like to be able to call in, if it is less urgent or a complicated case I like to put it in writing. One company I have dealt with a lot over the past year invites its customers to call them or chat with them primarily, and within their opening hours which are clearly listed. I have always had a response quickly. This has led me to stay with the company and think of them very fondly, despite a huge mess-up with my last order. Another company I have dealt with does the opposite. My question is always the same, very simple, but I always get a response 10 to 12 hours later because their customer service team is based on the opposite side of the planet. It puts me off because… Read more »
Neha Gupta
Guest
5 years 8 months ago
Enhancing customer experience is a key factor and a challenge that every industry is facing today. Encountering the customer’s expectations, with the competitors around doing the same thing, requires lots of efforts and skills. Therefore, in order to survive, it is very important for organizations to provide the self-service app to their customers. Self-service is an effortless way to get the answers for customers. It totally depends upon the manner the companies are serving their customers. Customers want their time to be valued. They definitely prefer to go for another medium to solve their problems other than calling the contact centers for the solutions. Self-service can depend on factors like where they are, which device they are using, what else they are doing at the same time, the nature of their support request and so on. No matter on which medium companies are serving customers, the whole point is customer convenience and customer satisfaction. According to a study, fifty percent smartphone users want to have the ability to solve their problems on a smartphone app… Read more »
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