How to know when it’s time for omnichannel customer service

By Amanda Roosa, Senior associate, content marketing, @mandyroosa

Published February 25, 2019
Last updated February 25, 2019

Omnichannel is the new buzzword in the customer service industry, and everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. However, is this hype real, and do you need to become the next expert in it? In layman's terms, an omnichannel solution integrates all your customer service channels in one place to maintain context and end siloed conversations. It also allows your team to quickly reference who the customer is, what conversations they’ve had and what they may have bought from you in the past. In short, yes, omnichannel is all that, and more. But how do you know when it’s time to switch to omnichannel customer service?

If you’re wondering whether you’re in need of an omnichannel customer service solution, below are some tips on what you should look out for:

Low agent capacity and/or overworked agents

Is your ticket volume increasing? Are your agents feeling overworked and stressed out? No matter your agent capacity, if your agents are inundated with emails, calls, and inquiries, and feeling overloaded, something needs to change. In the world of customer service, there’s nothing more stressful than your ticket backlog rising due to a lack of resources. If your agents are constantly switching between channels, user interfaces and unable to communicate and collaborate in real time, there are serious consequences—think low CSAT, low ASAT, and a general lack of support efficiency.

Service is inconsistent across channels

Another telltale sign you need to integrate your customer service channels: if your team is delivering inconsistent support across channels. Do you make customers repeat their issue over the phone if they’re transferred to another person? Or, say a customer emails you about an issue, doesn’t receive a response, and now they’re calling you but you have no idea they already emailed you. Customers don’t know which channel to trust and in an age of distrust in companies, that’s a mistake companies can’t afford to make.

Inconsistent service and communication across channels usually mean that customer context gets lost between channels and tickets are falling through the cracks. All of this can lead to rough interactions due to high handle time, high-resolution times, slow first response times. In turn, these rough interactions can lead to low customer satisfaction and low agent productivity. If your service is inconsistent, it can also mean your employees are frustrated because they don’t have the right tools for collaboration or for finding information. The last thing your support team needs is an agent spending twenty minutes calling other departments to find an answer.

Admins struggle to report across channels

If your admins are struggling to report metrics across disparate channels, it’s time to offer a better customer experience with omnichannel. Companies should be aligning goals and metrics around the customer experience, which means a unified view of customer data is essential since you need a single system of record for all customer, company, and behavioral data. If you’re unable to report ticket volume, CSAT, first response times, or things like agent productivity and performance, it’s difficult to get feedback and know where there is room to improve.

When reporting is ineffective because of siloed systems, it can lead to a lack of visibility across your customer support teams. For instance, if you’re unsure how many calls you’re receiving, properly managing staffing for calls becomes nearly impossible. Similarly, siloed systems make it difficult to know how to route inquiries and save your agents time and from losing customer info.

The omnichannel solution

According to a study by Dimensional Research, “41% of Millennials want more options for contacting customer service” and “67% have used live chat, social media, or texting for customer service”. Customers expect omnichannel services and solutions.

Omnichannel customer service can offer a unified workspace for agents and can help solve issues like agent burnout, inconsistent service, and lack of reporting insight. It can help your business improve customer communication and meet customer expectations. With the right omnichannel solution, you can automatically assign tickets to the right agents based on their skills, presence, and workload, understand your customers’ context and history and use cross-channel reporting to improve operations. For example, you can also use historical, cross-channel reporting to understand requests that take agents longer to solve and provide coaching opportunities. Doing so can improve agent capacity by measuring response times vs. tickets assigned to understand what each agent can manage. That way your customers receive timely support and your agents aren’t overworked.

Zendesk Benchmark companies have found that, compared to those that do not use Zendesk for an integrated omnichannel approach across email, web form, phone, chat, and self-service, Zendesk omnichannel companies have 16% lower first reply times, 31% lower first resolution times, 39% lower requester wait times during business hours, and 13% fewer replies.

Given the commonality of isolated channels and the wide range of consumer preferences, the best customer service tip today is to offer integrated channels. It's a natural solution to increasing your operational efficiency and meeting customer service expectations—especially as your company grows. It’s clear that omnichannel isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the future of customer support.

Your guide to omnichannel support

Read our guide to learn what omnichannel support entails