Why your business needs an omnichannel communications strategy
Technology has reinvented society, but its impact has probably been strongest in one particular area: communication. How many communication channels have you used in the past week? If you’re like most people, you might’ve used your phone to call someone, sent a text message, pinged off an instant message, fired off an email, or filled out a form to schedule a callback.
We’re living in the communication age. Communication is omnipresent and ever-evolving — especially for businesses. These days, you can’t get away with funneling all customer communication through one sole channel like an automated phone system. You now need an omnichannel strategy, one that provides customers a range of different ways to get in touch with you at all times.
This post will explore what an omnichannel communications strategy is, why your business needs one, how to put it in place. Finally, we’ll share some examples of winning omnichannel communication strategies.
“The omnichannel communications experience involves using different channels, or methods of connecting with customers and integrating them so the customer experience is seamless, regardless of the channel they use.” ~Mitel
What is an omnichannel communication strategy?
An omnichannel communications strategy is exactly as it sounds — it basically means that you communicate with customers across all channels: in person, on the phone, over email, via live chat, sending direct mail, using text or instant messaging platforms, on video conferencing tools, through form submissions, or interacting with customers on social media.
Of course, you might not use _all _available channels (I think faxes have now had their day), but by embracing an omnichannel communications strategy, you’re essentially telling customers that they can get in touch with you wherever, whenever.
So how important is this? Well, as it turns out, it’s pretty crucial. Consider the following statistics:
- 40% of consumers will refuse to do business with your company if they can’t use their preferred channel
- For 78% of customers, this changes depending on where they are throughout their buying journey
- 94% of marketers believe omnichannel experiences are crucial to ensuring business success.
But receiving inbound communications is only one-half of implementing an omnichannel communications strategy. The goal of customer service isn’t simply to let customers vent — it’s to listen to what they’re saying and respond appropriately. When you've got 10 or so different communication channels to deal with, however, and you’re receiving messages 24/7, it can become tricky trying to stay on top of everything.
You also need a place to store all this communication so that it doesn’t end up in silos across your organization — or even worse, so that it’s not entirely ignored. You need an all-in-one business communications software.
Capturing all inbound communications in one single place will do wonders for your customer service. Eighty-nine percent (89%) of customers get frustrated when they have to repeat their issues to agents. With unified communications software like CallRail’s Lead Center, agents can see all previous interactions with this customer.
They can dig into the call transcript from when they rang your head office two weeks ago. They can instantly open up all the emails they’ve sent back to your colleagues, plus the live chat they started and then abandoned.
In summary, an omnichannel communications strategy is about more than simply welcoming customer interactions across a variety of channels — you must also have a means of storing this influx of communication.
By embracing a comprehensive business communications software like Lead Center, you can serve your customers’ requests at scale and provide killer customer service, no matter the channel.
What are the benefits of an omnichannel communications strategy?
Embracing omnichannel communication — inviting customers to communicate with you across various channels — shouldn’t be taken lightly. But if you get it right, the payoffs are large.
Let’s dig into a few main benefits of implementing an omnichannel communications strategy.
Gain deeper, more valuable customer insights
Of course, customer communication goes beyond communicating problems alone. It can encompass a wide range of potential use cases. Perhaps customers get in touch to ask how your company can solve a particular one of their pain points. Perhaps they’re looking for more clarification regarding your products’ details or the terms and conditions of your services.
Customer interactions are your secret weapon. Customers rarely (if ever) get in touch with your business to speak about what you’re doing well — but they’ll contact you in droves to speak about what you’re doing wrong. By embracing cross-channel communication, you’re inviting more of their feedback. Sure, it won't always be nice to hear, but it’ll be valuable.
Whatever the reason for them getting in touch, customer communication is the key to identifying deeper, more valuable customer insights. Find out what they like about your business, why they came to you versus your competitors, and how you can improve going forward. Adopting an omnichannel communications approach welcomes increased customer communication. In turn, this should give you richer insights into what your customers think of your performance.
Create a better customer journey/buying experience
However, there’s little point in gaining deep insights unless you use them to tangibly improve your customer journey/buying experience. It’s as simple as that.
We all like to feel listened to — and customers are no different. Perhaps you've received a few messages from customers on Twitter telling you that your team left their kitchen dirty after finishing a recent plumbing project. Confused, you think it must just be an isolated incident — until you dive into your communications software and search for the phrase “left dirty.” You suddenly see a ton of different calls, live chats, social media messages, and more talking about this one particular problem.
Or perhaps one of your realtors forgot to lock up after they finished a viewing at your customer’s house. Fortunately, this particular customer didn’t seem too annoyed — they just called up your head office and asked for it not to happen again. This is obviously a big no-no, so you do some digging and see that previous customers have also called up to speak about this issue in the past.
A few isolated incidents can be ignored or dismissed. By connecting your different channels together, you all of a sudden revealed the true extent of the problem. Having an omnichannel communications strategy allows you to connect the dots between one customer conversation on one channel and how that might represent a larger problem.
As a result, you can more easily identify large-scale issues that need to be resolved fast, contributing to an improved customer journey/buying experience.
Maximize your agents’ productivity
Your business is growing, and customer interactions are flooding in. So how will you deal with this sudden influx of communications? By hiring more agents?
Sure, that’s one way — or you could just make your agents/your customer service team more productive. Customer service used to be a sort of ‘one in, one out’ system. Callers would ring your customer service team, wait in a queue until an agent was ready to speak to them, and then finally get through to an available member of your team. But 1:1 interactions are no longer possible for all your clients — especially as your business grows.
Fortunately, customers now get in touch with you via various channels. They can start a live chat, request a callback, or fire off a tweet. By embracing an omnichannel communication strategy, agents can spend valuable time dealing with the highest priority interactions — while less important issues are dealt with on other channels.
Agents will also spend less time asking customers to repeat themselves while getting up to speed with their particular request. By embracing multiple different channels, not all customers will need to ring up your business in the first place — which means that you might even be able to serve more customers with fewer agents, further decreasing your operational costs.
Increase your customer retention rate
A massive 90% of Americans consider customer service a key factor when deciding whether or not to purchase from a company.Customers have more choice than ever before — which means that having stellar customer service has become a key differentiator, and a crucial way to enhance your customer experience (CX).
If your customer service is subpar, customers will stop doing business with you, and they may never come back. Consider the fact that 89% of customers will stop doing business with a company after a negative customer experience, like having to repeat the same information again and again. This used to simply be part and parcel of customer service. Callers would get bounced from one agent to another, repeating themselves multiple times along the way.
Nowadays, however, this is perhaps the worst thing that your company can do.
So, where does omnichannel communication come in? Well, by unifying all customer communications in one single place (software like CallRail’s Lead Center), your agents maintain complete visibility over each individual customer. They can see their interaction history, diving into call transcripts and previous agents’ notes when dealing with the customer. They can see precisely when they got in touch, why, and whether or not their problem was resolved.
Customers deal with agents who are up-to-speed and know their precise context — no matter which channel they use to get in touch. They are treated as individuals by agents who know what they care about and struggle with. No more endless repetition and going around in circles; instead, the agent and the customer can swiftly get to the heart of the issue at hand.
“Lead Center helps us build a genuine connection with leads. Instead of having to ask a bunch of repeat questions, we can get straight to the heart of what they need, which has helped us increase our revenue and closing rates, and improve customer satisfaction.”
~ Skyler Andreasen Sales Relationship Consultant, Top Job Asphalt
4 steps to build a winning omnichannel communication strategy
Right, enough of the theory — let’s explore the four steps you need to take to create a winning omnichannel communication strategy.
1. Implement the right tools for the job
You wouldn’t expect an accountant to do a good job with just a pencil and paper to help them out. Likewise, you need to arm your agents with tools that will help them effectively serve customers at scale across multiple channels.
Tools such as Lead Center.
This all-in-one communications software matches every incoming text, form submission, call, and live chat inquiry to the individual customer that made them. Whenever the customer gets in touch going forward, agents can instantly see the history of their interactions with your company to date.
Related content: How centralizing communications helped 5 businesses grow
They’ll speak to agents who are in the know at all times, who know their context and what they’re looking for. When you consider that inbound calls have a 10 - 15x higher conversion rate than other inbound leads, you’ll quickly realize that implementing a tool like Lead Center can have a transformative impact on your business as a whole.
2. Train up your staff effectively
When you implement an omnichannel strategy, you effectively open the door for non-stop customer communication. They’ll be pinging off texts, emails, and live chat queries, while your phone won’t stop ringing.
This marks both a challenge and an opportunity. If your brand is “available” on every channel yet generally struggles to serve your customers effectively, your reputation will go down in smoke. On the other hand, if you rise to the challenge and provide a winning omnichannel communication service, then customers will keep on coming back to your brand in droves.
The key here lies in effectively training your staff. They need to be comfortable digesting large amounts of information while on the phone, such as using Lead Center to get up to speed with a caller’s context quickly. They need to know how to handle potentially tricky customer service requests — for instance, if a customer publicly shames your company on a social media platform.
Of course, you can only properly train your staff by monitoring their interactions with customers before pinpointing areas for improvement. For example, while they’re fielding a call, you can use Lead Center’s Silent Call Monitoring feature to listen in without anybody knowing.
If you want to secretly offer the agent pointers, use the Whisper Monitoring feature to communicate with them — the caller won’t even hear what you say. If a customer ever asks to speak to the manager or the agent simply seems unable to help them, simply join the call and speak to both the customer and your agent thanks to Lead Center’s Barge Monitoring feature.
But on-the-go training isn’t the only way to improve your customer service. You can also analyze previous call transcripts in Lead Center, using the Key Terms Spotted report (part of Conversation Intelligence’s Automation Rules feature) to quickly reveal important words or phrases that cropped up during prior conversations with customers.
3. Optimize each individual channel
It’s not enough to implement the right tools and to train your staff. If customers don’t know how to get in touch with you, this will all be for nothing. You, therefore, need to optimize each individual channel, making it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch with you.
Encourage customers to call by splashing your phone number in bold throughout your website. Implement live chat on your website for those who prefer it other than calling. Self-service options are increasingly popular these days, with 40% of consumers actively choosing to self-serve rather than speak to another person.
By optimizing each channel, you’ll also make life significantly easier for your agents. If customers aren’t sure how to get in touch (or if this isn’t made clear), they’ll usually resort to the most popular method: calling your business.
There’s nothing wrong with this — but you ideally want your agents to spend their valuable time and energy dealing with high-priority issues rather than fielding all different types of customer requests.
4. Level up your response game
Inviting customer queries is only one side of the coin. There’s no point encouraging customers to get in touch with you across a range of channels if you end up ignoring them. To enjoy the benefits gained from an omnichannel strategy, and to power up your customer service efforts, you must make quick responses a priority.
Just think about the fact that 78% of consumers buy from the company that responds to them first. Customers don’t care that your agents have all gone out for lunch or that they’re taking a quick break in the middle of a hectic day. In a world of instant gratification, they expect immediate responses right here and now.
Fortunately, CallRail arms you with the tools you need to make your response time a genuine differentiator. This will help you bolster your brand’s reputation, turn more prospects into customers (beating out the competition in the process), and transform your retention rate by showing that you’re always there for your customers.
Our Quick Responses feature sends reps a notification whenever a new form comes in or a call is missed — meaning they can respond right there and then. Alternatively, if they’re unable to respond, they can instead set up Automated Responses. Customers will instantly receive a templated message telling them that you’ve received their request and that you’ll respond to them as quickly as possible.
Sure — you still have to deal with the request — but you’ve gone some way to allaying a customer’s fears that their questions aren’t being heard. And with the new Lead Center mobile app, agents can respond to urgent requests on the go — even if they’re out in the field or about to meet with clients.
They can instantly call a customer back in one click, using the very same number that the customer dialed (which increases the likelihood that they’ll pick up). By embracing CallRail’s innovative features, you can automate the process of responding to customers as much as possible — making it quick, easy, and painless.
Examples of winning omnichannel strategies
Some of the world’s biggest, most successful brands put omnichannel communication at the heart of everything they do. Let’s explore three great pieces of ‘omninspiration’ from DCI Properties, Amistee Air duct Cleaning and Insulation, and Top Job Asphalt.
Canadian real estate company DCI Properties used to operate using a two-phone system — one would handle taking and placing calls, while the other simply recorded all of these interactions. But twice the capacity didn’t exactly mean twice the benefits. In fact, the system was so illogical that a single issue would see them waste half a day while they got their IT company to come and help them sort out the problem.
They desperately needed a way to unify everything in one simple place. Enter CallRail.
As Ryan Parker, Director of Operations, states: “Integrating and using CallRail was a way for us to have everything under one roof... itʼs [all] a lot easier on CallRail.” But what sort of impact has implementing CallRail had on the business?
Well, since they unified their omnichannel communications into Lead Center, they have been able to:
- Make 4x as many sales in Q1 2021 versus Q1 2020;
- Expand their team from 4 people to 16;
- Seamlessly transition to remote-working without experiencing any negative impacts on customer service.
All this in just over a year.
Amistee Air Duct Cleaning and Insulation
Amistee Air Duct Cleaning and Insulation were growing at a decent pace — but they realized that there was one major issue hindering the company’s growth: letting precious leads slip through the cracks. They desperately needed to bring all communication between clients and colleagues alike into one single software.
As Kate Beno, Inside Marketing Manager for Amistee, states: “Our communication channels were scattered and difficult for our agents to monitor. We made phone calls with one system, texted from another, etc. Some of our technicians also arenʼt the most tech-savvy, so it was important for us that [a business communications software] was user-friendly and could be implemented remotely..”
They were attracted to CallRail because it seemed user-friendly and a great value — especially compared to other “astronomically expensive” alternatives.
Since implementing CallRail’s Lead Center, Amistee has been able to:
- Organize all communications into an all-in-one inbox;
- Revisit previous phone calls thanks to automatic call recording;
- Compile — and share — digital notes on each client, ensuring a smooth handoff between service reps and technicians;
- Access client communications anytime, anywhere — something that has been particularly valuable while everybody has been working remotely.
“We really feel like this is a system that we could just plug and play, and, for the most part, that's all we've needed to do,” commented Beno.
Top Job Asphalt
Top Job Asphalt has impressively leveled up its customer service game since turning to CallRail. They used to make outbound calls on HubSpot using a computer before answering inbound calls on a desk phone. These inbound calls would have no caller ID, meaning they’d have to ask callers a ton of questions just to identify who was calling and what they wanted to talk about.
There were two problems here. First, customers could only get in touch by ringing up. Second, this wasn’t even an effective means of getting in touch. However, by implementing CallRail, Top Job Asphalt eliminated its desk phone system, created a way for customers to get in touch via text, and unified all inbound communications in one single, easily accessible inbox with Lead Center.
They can instantly see who’s getting in touch, whether they’ve contacted the company before, and if so, what they said the last time they spoke with your team. The result? Top Job Asphalt has doubled their sales in just a single year, improved their closing rate by 150%, and are responding to calls 98% faster.
What sort of impact would embracing an omnichannel communication strategy have on your business?
Your prospects and customers are waiting
Providing killer customer service isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s arguably never been easier. Nowadays, you can simply leverage a single software solution that seamlessly integrates all omnichannel customer communications into one place. This will allow you to gain deeper customer insights, improve your CX, ensure no leads ever slip through the cracks, make your agents more productive, and increase your retention rate.
More importantly, however, your customers will feel like they’re being listened to and effectively catered for. They can pick and choose the communication method that suits them best — whether they like speaking to an agent over the phone or resolving issues via live chat.
To build a successful business, you need to put your customers first. Embracing an omnichannel communications strategy is perhaps the single best way to do this. Your prospects and customers are waiting — so there’s not a moment to waste.
You can only implement an effective omnichannel communications strategy by leveraging the right tools. Book a demo to find out how CallRail integrates cross-channel customer interactions into one single place, making it easier for your agents to resolve issues, respond to queries, and provide winning customer service.