Omnichannel Service Is Increasingly Important for Improving the Customer Experience

According to a new study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of KANA, 92 percent of companies polled said that they now include customer experience as a strategic priority, with 23 percent of decision makers surveyed from organizations of 5,000 or more employees specifying it as their primary strategic priority.

However, although 71 percent of consumers surveyed by Forrester said valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service, companies are still struggling to provide consistent experience that customers expect across multiple channels; starting a conversation within one channel and then continuing it on another in context. Many organizations today have outdated customer service technology and managerial procedures that do not adjust quickly for changing customer expectations that span a broad array of service channels, fragmented even more so by generational channel preferences.

Confirming this finding, the study also found that unsatisfied customers won’t stick around in one channel if their needs aren’t met, and are taking out their frustrations by moving to other forms of communication; 75 percent of those polled said that they switch to other channels when they’re disappointed with a first contact method.

The study also found that when it comes to providing omnichannel options, additional operational costs can reach millions of dollars, as 42 percent of customer service agents must use multiple applications to manage voice, chat, email and social media inquiries.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Time is of the Essence: 71 percent said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service, and more than a third said that they would prefer to use online channels rather than speak to a live agent.
  • New Channels Take Off: Some channels in vogue today, such as virtual agents, screen sharing, SMS, and click-to-call, had minimal or no usage just three years ago.
  • Trigger Happy: 52 percent of consumers said that they will abandon an online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.
  • Risks of Not Meeting Customer Service Expectations are High: 64 percent said that risks of not adopting new customer service technologies will leave them at a competitive disadvantage; 60 percent said that it will create internal operational inefficiencies. Another 56 percent said that their customer service delivery will be inconsistent, and 50 percent told Forrester that their customers will switch to a competitor.

 “Successful customer service strategies require alignment across people, process and technology,” said James Norwood, chief marketing officer for KANA, in a statement. “Forrester's data shows that customer service agents require all the necessary information at their fingertips to fully resolve issues on first contact, no matter the channel. Implementing an 'everyone serves' mindset and the technology to fulfill it improves the customer experience and yields revenue-generating rewards, including increased wallet share per customer, cross-sell opportunities and new customer acquisitions.”