What is Omnichannel and Why Does it Matter?

In 2021, U.S. consumers were expected to spend roughly $768 billion from retail e-commerce, building on the pandemic gains that were seen in 2020, according to data from Statista. Highly enterprising retailers have been implementing multi-channel strategies, known as omnichannel, for some time. However, for the majority, change is on the horizon—and it’s approaching quickly. 

Companies must adapt to a world where customers want to find information, request assistance, make purchases, and share their thoughts on a variety of channels: mobile, online, call centers, and even brick-and-mortar stores. But what exactly is omnichannel and why does it matter to your business?

What is omnichannel?
Omnichannel, which is also known as “cross-channel strategy data,” means fulfilling the needs of your customers at every touchpoint, providing the same experience and functionality across all channels, no matter how your customer chooses to interact. Channels can include:

  • Brick-and-mortar stores
  • Over the phone/call centers
  • Websites
  • Online marketplaces
  • Mobile apps
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Catalogs

With an omnichannel, companies can be attentive at each stage of the customer journey—discovery, research, purchase, support, customer service, and returns—to build up an ongoing relationship. Simply put, omnichannel is customer-centric. It’s where you meet customers where they are and provide them with the best possible service.

Why would omnichannel matter to your business?
Allowing customers to move freely between channels is essential: 95% of customers use at least 3 channels in a single interaction with a company, according to research firm Forrester. Customers expect a seamless contact experience, but unfortunately, that rarely happens.

When calling or contacting a business, customers find themselves passed from agent to agent, explaining their situation multiple times. It’s repetitive, tedious, and enough reason to lose faith in a company and take their business elsewhere. This is where omnichannel comes in.

Optimizing your customer contact experience with omnichannel strategies means you’re connecting everything from live chats, social media, emails, phone calls, and SMS to your CRM system. This creates a seamless customer experience. The customer journey is one of the most important aspects of your business. Omnichannel ensures that you can communicate with customers easily and efficiently throughout their journey and cater to their every need.

So, what can you do?
You have an idea of what omnichannel means and how it could benefit your business, what next? How do you create these connections and better communicate with your customers? Answer: An omnichannel cloud contact center.

An omnichannel cloud contact center is a customer service function that allows customers to seamlessly switch between support channels by using cloud-based contact center software. Most contact centers bridge the gap between the customer and the company by handling inbound and outbound calls, resolving complaints and general customer support, responding to emails or text messages, staffing live chats, and social media support.

Most contact centers work using VoIP software which combines several telecommunication functions including call screening, voice mail, call recording, conference calling, and more. An omnichannel cloud contact center would streamline the services so that instead of working parallel, all communication channels and their supporting resources work together, allowing customers seeking support to seamlessly switch back and forth across all channels.

Businesses that implement omnichannel strategies can also reengage customers paused at any point of their customer journey. The cross-channel system allows businesses to reach out via email, text, mobile push notifications, and website pop-ups—so customers can pick up where they left off, even if it was on another channel. This makes the contact experience seamless.

The Takeaway
Turning a basic call center into an omnichannel cloud contact center can be a significant undertaking, as they need to have the right technology in place. Because omnichannel cloud contact centers are cloud-based, the technology is all hosted and maintained by a software provider. However, businesses willing to undertake the transformation will have more success meeting customer expectations, and that is critical in today’s experience economy.

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