The ROI of Omnichannel Customer Support
- Omnichannel customer support threads together customer conversations across different communication touchpoints to deliver a seamless and consistent customer experience.
- Research published in The Customer Service Excellence Report found the financial upside impact of omnichannel customer support is significant and sustained for those who succeed.
- Contact centers that delivered convenient, low customer effort omnichannel support that achieved high customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores earned higher revenue growth, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) growth, customer retention and a decrease in cost to serve.
How Omnichannel Customer Service Grows ROI
Omnichannel customer service delivers integrated and unified support experiences across channels and devices.
It's different than the more common multi-channel support which is just multiple (unintegrated) channels that lack the ability to support a single case across multiple channels.
Contact centers implement omnichannel support to meet their customers where they reside and deliver service in the customers preferred channel and device.
Omnichannel customer service goals are multi-faceted but often include:
- To be everywhere the target audience is. This keeps the brand top of mind and increases customer engagement.
- To lower cost to serve, by using lower cost self-service support channels such as bots, virtual agents, self-service knowledgebases and community forums.
- To deliver a consistent and integrated quality of service irrespective of communication channel.
- To capture as much customer data as possible and merge it into the customer record. This enhances the 360-degree customer view and better enables to companies to apply data to deliver differentiated customer experiences.
Of course, the omni-channel challenge is to maintain conversation fidelity across multiple engagements. Customers often want to start a dialogue in one channel and continue it in another without having to restart and repeat. That requires contact centers to sync cross-channel communications so the content and context of each dialogue can be passed from one channel to another.
Your customers are reaching out to only one company, and they expect consistent communication regardless of channel, device, agent or the number of interactions.
The Omnichannel Customer Support Payback
The challenge notwithstanding, the financial upside of more pervasive support options is significant.
The Customer Service Excellence research found the Best-in-Class leaders (i.e., the top 15 percent) outperformed their peers in several ways.
- They used an average of 5 channels to deliver customer support. The number of support channels supported did not separate them from the Medians, but the quality of service (as measured by CSAT) did.
- They achieved the highest positive customer satisfaction (CSAT) trending. On average, the Best-in-Class realized a 3 percent increase in annual CSAT, compared to 1 percent for Medians and no increase for Laggards. The combination of rising CSAT and omni-channel service suggest the Best-in-Class were much more focused on achieving excellence in fewer channels than mediocrity in more.
- 92 percent reported a positive Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) trend; meaning the lifetime value for each customer grew from the prior year.
- They realized the highest customer retention rates; an average of 95 percent compared to 91 percent for Medians and 87 percent for Laggards. This research is in line with other findings, such as a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, who found that companies that provide a consistent service quality across different channels retain 89 percent of their customers, whereas companies who do not retain 33 percent.
- They achieved the highest scores in revenue growth. This makes sense as when CSAT, CLV and customer retention rise, so do revenues. This benefit is most often realized when converting customer service from a cost center to a profit center.
- They attained the lowest cost to serve. They were effective in using lower cost channels – while maintaining quality of service and CSAT – to lower customer service operating costs. This drives a direct impact to profitability. A caveat to this finding is that the Medians and Laggards that adopted multiple support channels did not lower their operating costs. While deflecting a portion of customer cases to lower cost channels will save money, it only works if those channels succeed. If instead they lower the quality of service or fail to resolve the customer issue, the customer simply escalates to the call center which decreases CSAT, renders the self-service channel ineffective and provides no cost savings.
The Best-in-Class did something else differently than their lower performing peers. Instead of delivering all services on all channels, they used different channels for different types of service. They recognized that certain services are better delivered on select channels. It's something we call a right-service-right-channel alignment.
The Link Between Omni-channel and Customer Experience
The research also found that meeting customers where they reside increases customer convenience, which is a hallmark of a customer experience (CX) strategy. In fact, the four CX trust elements of Convenience, Responsiveness, Reliability and Relevance can be applied and measured to align different channels for different purposes.
Omni-channel engagement also delivers greater customer insights. The customer digital footprints and online behaviors can be automatically captured, integrated to the CRM software customer record and fed to the 360-degree customer view to improve communication content, context and relevance.
The digital footprints provide the input to deliver differentiated customer experiences.
Communicating with customers in and across their preferred channels to resolve their problems provides an opportunity to differentiate.