Choice can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s great to be presented with a selection of options so you can pick the exact features you want. On the other, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, ignore the details in order to make a quick decision, and end up stuck with something that doesn’t work as required.
Embracing an omnichannel communications strategy is an excellent way to ensure customers have a smooth, integrated experience, regardless of the communications channels used. But this experience is dependent upon the business understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the different pathways that customers will wish to follow.
And this is where informed choices need to be made. To be in control of your omnichannel customer engagement involves making business decisions based not just on cost, but on customer preference too.
Customer Preferences and Omnichannel Communications
At Gnatta, we have calculated that a customer query that can be resolved quickly via 1.2 webchats would take 4.1 emails. So, at first glance, it might make sense for a company to focus entirely on the cost-saving webchat. Particularly as a tool like Gnatta chat is extremely efficient and cost-effective — with customisable workflows you can vary automated responses based on your knowledge base, to give a highly professional customer support experience.
But even if one channel is extremely effective and is preferred by the company, we must remember that omnichannel does not mean mono-channel. The customer may want — or need — more options. The ideal balance of channels that will provide the best customer experience may differ between companies, or even between different target audiences for the same company.
One survey identified email as the ‘top critical channel of choice’ for customers of all generations. Based on this observation, even if we might want to encourage use of webchat for cost reasons, we should also ensure that the email option is also easy for customers to locate and use, so we do not inadvertently fail to meet our customers’ expectations on their very first attempt at making contact.
Customisable Workflows for the Best Customer Experience
The fact that ‘one size doesn’t necessarily fit all’ with customer communications is one reason why it’s so important to be able to design workflows that suit your business. Customising options for your customers’ needs enables them to contact you in a way that satisfies them and minimises the effort they need to make.
If we think about a typical customer problem with a product, a wide range of different channels might be used before the problem is resolved, and the customer satisfied. Figure 1 shows a possible communications pathway for a customer experiencing a problem with a high-value engineered product. Each of these stages can be optimised in terms of customer experience, employee experience, and cost.
Customising the workflow with appropriate triggers—perhaps connected to a period of time, the nature of an interaction, or the content of a communication—which instigate automated actions, is a really effective way to save time, and provide a smoother customer experience.
Customers Are Not Robots
At each contact, it is possible for the customer to deviate from the company’s preferred route—and this is where customisable workflows can really add value to the process. Consider, for example, that the customer did not submit any photos following the webchat. Many businesses might, at this point, close the case with a sigh of relief—perhaps making the assumption that the customer’s product had started working again. Whereas, if the communications workflow had been customised to include a check on whether the customer had fulfilled their required action by a certain time/date, then a failure to receive the photos could trigger an automatic contact from company to customer.
If the customer had been experiencing problems when trying to send the email, this contact would show they had not been forgotten, and the company could offer further support. And if the product problem had indeed spontaneously gone away, the customer would be pleased to know the company valued their business and would be more likely to leave a positive review.
Integrating omnichannel communications through comprehensive omnichannel customer engagement software like Gnatta also gives the flexibility to automatically open APIs into other systems. In our example, when the engineer has completed the repair and the item is dispatched, this can open an API to a delivery tracking system and trigger an automated email to the customer.
Priority Routing of Customers
Another way in which an omnichannel workflow can be customised is by routing customers in order of priority, according to whatever parameters the company chooses. In the example in Figure 1, the QR code generated by the service engineer could be designed to automatically prioritise this customer above those who have returned a product without speaking with an engineer first.
Or a company might have designated ‘VIP customers’, whose complaints will always be routed to the front of the queue automatically. This is one way to reduce negative public feedback—but there are other ways cusomisable workflows could help achieve this aim. For example, by routing customers to the most appropriate advisor, with simple questions routed to newer agents, and complex problems—or the most unhappy customers—assigned to the most experienced advisors.
In Figure 1, routing is also used towards the end of the process, with the customer rating response. Sending an automated public feedback request to a known dissatisfied customer is unlikely to be helpful for a company, as it may trigger a negative public response—and if the customer is irritated by the request, their response may even be disproportionate to the original level of dissatisfaction.
While this is a particular faux pas for known dissatisfied customers, it must be remembered that it’s possible for a company to genuinely be unaware that a customer is unhappy with their treatment until they ask for feedback. If the feedback rating is solely used for internal analysis and doesn’t lead onto any further actions that may benefit the customer, opportunities may be missed.
Setting up an automated workflow based upon a rating in a feedback email will enable you to route customers to additional support or to giving public feedback, as appropriate. And happy customers can also be added to further nurturing campaigns.
Customisable Workflows to Suit Your Business
We have already mentioned that omnichannel is not the same as mono-channel. It’s worth also mentioning that omnichannel also doesn’t mean using every channel to do everything. The example in Figure 1 shows product-based support. But for a service company, aspects to do with warehouses and delivery confirmation texts are unlikely to be relevant.
The important thing is, to review potential contact channels appropriate for your business, ascertain how your customers prefer to get in touch, and customise workflows accordingly. With Gnatta this is easy.