Why Multichannel Support Is Essential for Businesses and Customers
With 47% of customers using up to five different types of communication channels in the UK alone, it’s essential for customer-focused businesses to provide multichannel customer support. Providing customers with a range of options to get in touch with a business’s support team not only helps to build brand loyalty and strengthen customer retention strategies, but it also enables businesses to keep up with the competition. After all, 77% of customers admitted to leaving a website that didn’t provide a live chat communication channel in favour of a competitor that did.
What Is Multichannel Customer Support?
Multichannel support, put simply, is when a business provides its customers with support across more than two communication channels. This allows businesses to interact with customers on channels that they prefer to use, while also opening themselves up to other forms of communication.
Multichannel tools allow businesses to not only provide customer support on familiar channels but also on newer forms of communication. Typical customer service channels include:
- Live chat
- Social media
Modern Help Desk Software tools provide businesses of all types and sizes to integrate their various communication channels. Allowing tickets from each line of communication to be collected into one centralized dashboard. This not only improves a business’s customer service practices but can greatly improve customer retention rates too.
Having a solid customer retention strategy through multichannel customer support makes good business sense, as it costs up to five times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones.
One of the best ways to retain customers is to deliver outstanding customer service. In a 2017 Microsoft study, 96% of respondents worldwide said that customer service is important when it comes to brand loyalty.
Key Benefits of Multichannel Customer Support
Ensure Tickets are Organized and Managed
A multichannel support tool enables support teams to manage emails, social media messages, phone calls, and live chat enquiries in one centralized system. Effectively providing greater organization of a business’s support tickets and processes.
Every new request that a support team receives can be controlled through a ticketing system. This allows agents to easily keep track of enquiries and prioritize responses accordingly.
Tickets can be categorized in terms of importance and then allocated to different support team members. Tickets can also be tagged according to themes such as complaints, reviews, or for cross-promotion purposes.
An organized support system also means that no tickets go unanswered. This is particularly beneficial for companies who need to support customers in different time zones or locations.
Improve Ticket Response Times
A decade or so ago, customers would’ve expected to call, write to, or visit a store to get their support issues resolved. They understood that this process might take time.
Nowadays, with so many communication channels available, customers expect a timely, even immediate, response. Slow response times are a considerable bugbear for customers. With, 43% of UK respondents expecting their social media enquiries to be answered within 24 hours or less.
Social media penetration reached 67% of the UK population in 2019, with users spending one hour and 50 minutes on average each day on social media platforms. Many people like to check social media throughout the day; when they wake up, as they’re working, and while they’ve got one eye on the TV. Any business looking to deliver outstanding customer service must recognise the role that social media plays in the lives of consumers and align their support processes accordingly.
Better organisation of support requests leads to less backlog, an increase in agent productivity and faster response times for customers. Automated responses through chatbots can also be set up to deal instantly with commonly asked questions.
Provide Self-Service Support
Although not technically a communication channel, providing customers with a self-service portal is another form of providing multichannel support. This could be in the form of a knowledge base or even a simple FAQ section.
Not everyone wants to pick up the phone to make an enquiry or spend time composing an email. Instead, most customers will prefer to browse a website and seek the right answers for themselves. In fact, 51% of customers prefer to find help via an FAQ section rather than directly contact a support team.
Gain Valuable Customer Insights
Typical reporting tools found in a help desk system gives businesses a detailed insight to help analyze and optimize their customer support strategy. With this information, support managers can quickly identify which channels and category tags are being used the most through ticket inflow.
They’re also able to see at what time of day support is needed the most and make corrections when it comes to the availability of support agents.
Some software tools also offer agent activity reports, which help managers to monitor the performance of customer service representatives and pinpoint where further training is needed.
Support an Omnichannel Experience
In the UK, 47% of customers use 3-5 types of communication channels. When it comes to multichannel support, what customers really want is an omnichannel service. Put simply, omnichannel customer support is all about creating a seamless service experience for customers by making their needs central to a business’s support processes.
Putting in place multichannel support that allows customers to get in touch the way they prefer is an excellent start. But, by going one step further, an omnichannel approach removes the boundaries between communication channels.
In this scenario, a customer feels like whichever channel they use, they’ll be able to carry on that conversation with a support agent seamlessly. Even if they initially created their enquiry on email and then moved to SMS, or similar.
Omnichannel tools enable support teams to access a complete history of previous communications for every customer. Agents can leave notes for other team members too. So, no matter who picks up an ongoing enquiry or complaint, it can be dealt with effectively without the customer having to waste time repeating themselves.
What’s the Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Support?
Although both multichannel and omnichannel support refers to businesses utilizing multiple communication platforms for customer queries, omnichannel support is able to integrate all forms of communication into one single system. Effectively creating a seamless customer service experience.
Whereas communication channels act as stand-alone entities with multichannel customer support, all forms of communication are linked when it comes to an omnichannel support process. This immersive experience provides various benefits for businesses that utilize omnichannel support, including:
- Provides a seamless customer experience
- Increases customer retention rates
- Improves quality of customer service
- Improves customer satisfaction rates
- Reinforces trust and brand loyalty with customers
With two-thirds of customers admitting to being frustrated when having to repeat their queries across multiple channels, an omnichannel support system should feature heavily in a business’s approach to delivering exceptional customer service. While also being aware that the first step is to ensure they’re first providing multichannel support.