It’s never been easier to contact a company.
Whether you want to talk on the telephone, tap out a text, chat with a chatbot or even send an old-fashioned letter through the post, new avenues of interaction between businesses and consumers are continually emerging. This multifaceted digital communication strategy – an omnichannel approach – has quickly evolved from ‘nice to have’ to ‘absolutely necessary’ for any customer facing business.
Dylan D’Avoine, Operations Manager at leading contact centre outsourcer TSA Group, says businesses that don’t embrace a wide range of ways to contact their customers run the risk of falling behind.
“From a consumer perspective, everyone is trying to do things the easiest way,” Mr D’Avoine says. “Everyone’s got a mobile phone and they are on their devices pretty much at all points of the day, so if there are different ways to communicate rather than sitting on a call and waiting for an hour or two, obviously people would prefer to do that. And from a business perspective, if you want to ensure open communication with your customers and have your customers feel connected with your brand, you can’t limit yourself to one form of communication strategy.”
“You need to invest in a digital solution – the days of people being willing to wait an hour or two hours on the phone waiting for a question that could only take two minutes to resolve are over. People want a more efficient way of being able to connect so that’s definitely sparked a lot more businesses to really think about the digital solutions that they have in place and how they can better communicate with their clients and customers.”
As new methods of communication multiply and proliferate, more evidence emerges that businesses that embrace the omnichannel approach enjoy improved customer satisfaction rates and increased profits through their greater reach.
In 2016, Dutch airline KLM used Facebook Messenger to boost its customer interactions by 40 per cent, with users opting to use the social media giant’s messaging service to receive flight documents and information.
Target is another big business benefiting from an innovative customer communication approach. In 2017, the global department store giant partnered with Pinterest to add its visual search tool to its app and website, with the result a 10 per cent increase in sales.
Beauty and cosmetics retailer Sephora has also instituted a successful omnichannel approach, integrating its online and offline experiences for an enhanced customer experience. Augmented reality and touch screen displays make the bricks and mortar experience more digital, while Sephora’s mobile app ensures customers are aware of specials and sales without having to set foot in a store. As a result, Sephora’s 11 million customers spend 15 times more money on Sephora products than the average online shopper.
“The omnichannel approach varies from campaign to campaign and industry to industry,” Mr d’Avoine says. “We determine what the needs of the customers are, to determine the best channels to contact them, rather than forcing those channels on them.”
Consistency the key
While the benefits are clear for business, Mr d’Avoine says the biggest challenge in adopting an omnichannel approach is consistency. With a myriad of methods to communicate to customers, ensuring they receive the same message whether they’ve picked up the phone, are chatting with a bot or are sending a text is crucial for the strategy’s success.
“The biggest challenge for us as a contact centre has been internal communications, with so many different methods of customer interaction,” Mr d’Avoine says.
“Usually they are managed by different stakeholders, whether they are on our side or on our clients’ side. Ensuring everyone is across all of the latest updates and the latest information has been our biggest challenge. If everyone doesn’t have the same information, it really leaves us open to the risk of misinforming customers, with the worst case scenario being someone calling through and saying ‘I spoke to someone on the webchat that said this, and now you’re saying this’.”
“It makes us, as a brand, feel very disconnected and can certainly ruin a brand’s reputation. Our biggest ongoing focus is making sure that internally, we are communicating and making sure everyone is across all of the information, all of the training and making sure that we are covering all of the bases.”
Chatbots are the future
While chatbots aren’t a new invention, emerging technology powered by artificial intelligence means they are getting smarter.
Natural Language Processing systems such as ChatGPT allow chatbots to engage potential customers, capture contacts, resolve simple issues and tell consumers all about your product – and in some cases do it better than humans.
The bots are also evolving past text chat.
Today’s AI-powered voice bots can deliver personalised engagement through a human-like voice. Improving the experiences of voice IVR or any other text to speech solutions, customers’ interactions with bots feel increasingly similar to other interactions with real customer service agents.
As the technology continues to improve, Mr d’Avoine says he expects systems that leverage AI will become ubiquitous in the contact centre industry.
“In the next six to 12 months, we will really start to see a lot more companies moving towards omnichannel solutions that integrate AI and automation,” he says.
“There’s been so much major development just in the last 12 months alone with AI and it is having an astounding impact in the digital space.”
In today’s competitive sales environment, companies that embrace new ways of reaching out to customers – and new ways customers can reach out to them – are setting themselves up for customer success.
TSA are Australia’s market leading specialists in CX Consultancy and Contact Centre Services. We are passionate about revolutionising the way brands connect with Australians. How? By combining our local expertise with the most sophisticated customer experience technology on earth, and delivering with an expert team of customer service consultants who know exactly how to help brands care for their customers.