As companies aggressively pursue digital CX initiatives, the race is on to create better omnichannel self-service. This FICX post reviews five strategic tips for the best possible omnichannel self-service experiences to maximize customer satisfaction and sales conversion rates.
Omnichannel Self-Service Defined
Omnichannel support or customer self-service options empower customers to interact with your customer support function in the communication channel they prefer – often without speaking to or chatting with a live agent. The idea is to meet the customer whenever and wherever they choose to interact, with consistent, high-quality experiences that resolve issues and meet needs with minimum customer effort.
Omnichannel strategy has become table stakes for brands interested in turning customer experience and support into a competitive advantage. It reflects:
- The connected, multichannel lives of our customers
- Rising customer expectations for faster and easier issue resolution
- Growing customer preference for digital self-service versus live agent support
- Technological advances to resolve customer issues without human intervention
Integration is a critical element of omnichannel self-service and support. Great omnichannel experiences have consistent front-end experiences and full back-end integration with a company’s various data platforms to deliver seamless, personalized experiences wherever and whenever the customer chooses to engage.
Omnichannel Self-Service Options
Many companies put an AI-powered chatbot or virtual assistant at the center of their omnichannel customer support strategy. Chatbots can be delivered in many connected media channels and present well on small screens. They can be an extremely value means of driving call deflection and diversion rates. When executed well, they offer the critical components of an omnichannel communication solution. They can also provide information and guidance at many stages of the customer journey and reduce demands on your contact center and staff.
Another increasingly favored component of omnichannel customer self-service is the digital self-service micro-app. Micro-apps are focused and streamlined digital experiences designed to help customers perform specific tasks like checking a balance, making a payment, collecting customer feedback, or onboarding a product. These experiences can be delivered in any digital media channel or device and are distributed through short links. These short links can be embedded into websites and self-service portals or delivered on demand via SMS, secure messaging apps, or social media.
Tip One: Choose the Right Omnichannel Self-Service Approach
Chatbots and digital self-service micro-apps can work independently or be integrated. The right omnichannel approach for your business needs to be informed by your objectives, available resources, and your customers’ needs.
Consider these options as you formulate your go-forward strategy for unified communication and support. Chatbots can connect customers to digital self-service micro-apps that drive higher completion rates than simply redirecting the customer to a full-featured mobile app or customer portal. Similarly, micro-apps can incorporate chatbots if they are the best way to help simplify and streamline customer experience with a particular issue or problem.
Tip Two: Invest Significant Time and Resources into Chatbot Development
Chatbots are only as valuable as the extent to which they have been configured to support many customer needs. Conversational AI enables a chatbot to parse customer inputs for their likely meaning and then respond appropriately. A well-designed chatbot addresses most likely customer needs without the need to ask people to rephrase or confine their customer issue questions in a small area. The more flexible and versatile the chatbot, the more people will use it.
Poorly designed customer service chatbots cannot understand much customer language and only address a few customer needs. Most of us have tried using “weak” chatbots and know first-hand how frustrating it can be. And every time we disappoint customers with chatbot failure, we diminish the likelihood that they will choose self-service in the future.
Third-party chatbot platforms have made progress in simplifying the development of a robust omnichannel customer service chatbot, including relevant natural language processing. But you and your team still need to invest of time and effort necessary to ensure your ai chatbots can address many potential customer needs. One litmus test is to task your team with ensuring that the app delivers genuine value for most or all of the everyday customer queries that occupy the bulk of customer service agent time.
Tip Three: Prioritize the Most Common Use Cases for Micro-Apps
If you ask your contact center for a list of the questions and concerns they address most, chances are that you will find many of the most common needs are for straightforward tasks where live agent interaction provides little real value. Live agent phone support is costly — in the US, the average cost for a minute of connected time is about $1. When a customer connects with an agent to address a straightforward need, your company likely spends several dollars. If you can divert these questions to less expensive digital support, you cut costs, improve agent productivity, and deliver pleasing customer engagement.
Of course, customer support is an investment designed to help enhance customer loyalty and maximize customer retention. But relying on live agents to meet these low-value customer needs is a needless expense. Further, most people prefer to address their customer service issues with self-service options if they are easy to reach and use.
Prioritize the most common tasks in your omnichannel customer service micro-app development plan. This helps increase the total number of people that will find them relevant and deflects the maximum number of live agent interactions — via phone or live chat systems. Additionally, you maximize adoption when you make micro-apps available across a broader range of customer touchpoints.
Tip Four: Create Streamlined Experiences
Whether you are building a chatbot or a digital self-service micro-app, take the time to simplify the omnichannel customer service experience. Make sure the self-service option is the easiest and most efficient way to address a customer issue, regardless of the communication channel. The fewer steps the customer must take to reach the desired resolution, the more satisfied they will be.
- Suggestions for better customer self-service experiences:
- Don’t ask for any information that isn’t essential to address the issue
- Leveraged advanced capabilities like auto-fill and dynamic forms to simplify data entry
- Leverage automated data validation tools to ensure customer data are accurate from the beginning
- Employ testing to collect customer feedback and optimize your self-service software
Tip Five: Enable Escalation to Live Support
While most organizations want to maximize the number of people who choose digital omnichannel customer experience options, we don’t want to prevent customers from getting live human support if they need it. For best results, offer customers avenues to live chat or phone support if they need to escalate. Customer needs have to come first. While there may be use cases in which you want to prevent support calls altogether, most businesses would rather spend a little to ensure a satisfied customer.
Omnichannel customer support is a win-win for customers and companies because it offers increasingly preferred methods of customer service resolution and lower total customer support costs.
If you want a better way to develop digital self-service experiences for your organization, consider the FICX platform. FICX makes it 10X faster to create beautiful, efficient, and satisfying digital self-service micro-apps. Many leading brands from the Americas, EMEA, and APAC are using FICX to accelerate their digital customer service development plans and drive maximum digital adoption. To learn more about omnichannel customer service, get in touch or visit our other articles on the subject. The most popular are indexed below.