Best Practices and up to the minute news on Customer Experience Management and Service Excellence

Why Your Brand Must Offer Omnichannel Communication for a Better Customer Experience

Today’s customer experience hinges on options for multiple channels of communication.

While many customers still prefer to phone an agent at a central call center, the prospect of waiting on hold for several minutes or longer can put off those with just a quick question or who  don’t have time to wait. That’s why your business or organization must offer “omnichannel,” multiple options for communication with your company.

Consumers want more than one or two different communication channels, depending on how urgent or complex their issues are, says customer service software company Zendesk.

For simple information requests, customers are more likely to prefer the following digital channels, according to a survey of more than 1,000 consumers who received online of phone customer service conducted by Zendesk:

  • Email: 60 percent
  • Live chat: 48 percent
  • SMS/text: 24 percent
  • Social media: 18 percent

When it comes to complicated requests for information, interacting with a live agent tops the list of communication preferences, says Zendesk:

  • Phone: 76 percent
  • Live chat: 43 percent
  • Email: 40 percent
  • Text messaging: 15 percent
  • Social media: 12 percent

“To successfully meet customer demands for more immediate, personalized attention, companies are leveraging new technologies that go beyond traditional voice and email,” says Zendesk.

“By implementing such channels as live chat, social media, mobile apps, SMS/text messages, self-help solutions, and more, companies can now be ready wherever and however the customer wants.”

Make omnichannel options accessible

Many businesses and organizations don’t list their phone numbers on their websites or make the customer search extensively to find them, according to “The State of Customer Service Experience,” a 2023 report from The Northridge Group, a management consulting firm specializing in customer experience solutions.

“In many cases, the ‘contact us’ button leads to an email or form as opposed to a phone number. At the same time, those who offer live agent chat have made it quick and easy to access and often offer extended hours,” says the Northridge Group report.

“While this trend may lead to short-term cost savings, discouraging customers who want to call from doing so can lead to significant customer frustration. This, in turn, can result in poor customer experiences and possibly the loss of customers.”

Consider total time spent resolving an issue

When a customer calls the contact center with a problem or to ask a question, don’t assume that the total time the customer spent trying to resolve the problem was the length of the call, said Mary Kane, managing principal, healthcare, at The Northridge Group in the report.

“In many cases, the patient may have been trying to self-solve their problem on the digital platform for hours, days, or longer before calling to seek human assistance,” said Kane. “When the patient reflects on how long it took them to resolve their issue, they will undoubtedly view it as the time it took them across all channels.”

Organizations and businesses must adjust their AHT (average handle time) metrics according to the total amount of time and effort their patients must invest in issue resolution, said Kane.

“Patients should be able to use their preferred communication channels, such as email, calls, video chat, SMS, live chat, and social media to seek assistance,” said Kane. “The onus is on healthcare organizations to meet each patient on their channel of choice and provide excellent support that follows them from channel to channel.”

Customers view their experiences with a company based on all of the combined contacts they make across various channels to resolve their issues,” according to the Northridge report.

“Companies that learn to deliver a seamless, personalized experience across all channels will have a competitive advantage,” says the report. “Customer loyalty is a reward that is earned by companies that learn to consistently provide exceptional experiences for their customers.”