By Pankaj Gupta
The digitalization of the world has radically transformed consumer behaviour as well as business operations in today’s fast-paced era. People, especially the millennials, have been marching the digital way, hooking on to newer, diverse channels of communication, and demanding personalised interactions with businesses through their own desired channels. As a response to this underlying trend, businesses have been exploring and implementing distinct ways to connect with consumers by offering seamless customer service and support spanning across multiple platforms. The significance of digital communication channels for businesses has undoubtedly increased, with a clear realisation that a great customer experience can no longer be delivered only through traditional mediums such as voice or emails.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic seems to have put a layer of icing on the cake, having successfully fuelled the digital trend, with a notably higher number of consumers now preferring to explore and make their buying decisions online. An omni-channel customer service approach has therefore become a key requisite for businesses, allowing them to be by the side of their consumers (both, existing and potential) at all stages of their purchasing journey. As per Aberdeen report, 51% of the companies use at least eight channels to communicate with their customers, thereby aiming to deliver an omni-channel experience.
Some of the digital communication channels being adopted by businesses currently are social media, smartphone, chatbots, live chat, voice, video & email. Consumers have the freedom to choose and use any of these communication channels as per their convenience, sitting in the comfort of their homes. For example, real-time product demos (video) offer a 360-degree view of the products, creating an almost store-like experience for consumers. Video-based customer service enables them to interact with a customer service agent in real time, facilitating instant and prompt support. Interestingly, the demand for visual interactions for the purpose of customer communications has been on the rise, as engagement of such type lends a more personalised touch to customer support. Other online touchpoints such as Live Web chat and chatbots have also seen greater traction over the previous years.
However, to enable such exceptional experiences, it is important for businesses to smartly integrate the communication channels within their customer-facing apps. The new communication features need to be seamlessly integrated into the workflow, which will allow customers to switch seamlessly between channels, and would also enable the agents to follow a customer conversation wherever it goes, without losing the context. For example, a customer can begin with a chat session from the website and then roll that chat into a video co-browse session or voice call with the customer service agent. By integrating omni-channel communication APIs offered by CPaaS providers, companies can achieve the above easily and quickly and thereby enhance their customer engagement.
According to a report, companies that have the best omnichannel strategies and offer consistent service across multiple channels are successful in retaining 89% of their customers. As opposed to this, companies that lack an adequate omnichannel approach are only able to retain 33% of their customers. Another interesting report reveals that customers who use three or more channels to interact with businesses have a purchasing frequency rate that is 250% higher than the single-channel users.
Needless to say, the road ahead is promising for companies that focus on offering consistent service quality and unified experiences to their customers. Not only will they be able to enhance their customer satisfaction, but also improve their brand’s image and credibility, thereby driving sales. We are in the midst of a rapidly evolving era, and it would always be about creating great customer experiences!
(The author is CEO and Co-founder, EnableX.io, a Cloud Communication Platform provider in Asia)