Since we last wrote about omni-channel commerce and shared the top omni-channel customer service experiences that customers want, new research has been released that highlights the importance of creating a seamless experience for customers, across all of your channels.
No matter how you and your customers contact each other, via your website or e-commerce site, through tele-sales or phone calls to branch stores or head office, via your trade counter or retail store, or on email or social media, your customers want the exchange to be consistent, personal and intelligent.
Omni-Channel Commerce: What Goes Wrong?
This 2016 survey of more than 1700 consumers in the UK and mainland Europe, the US and Australia shows that 98% use more than one channel to engage with suppliers, with the average number of channels being 5.6. A third use more than 7 channels. However, only 24% of these consumers had seamless experiences, the rest reported challenges in switching from one channel to another.
Whilst the survey respondents were customers of telecoms, financial services and insurance providers, these issues are no less real or important for suppliers in the distributive trades.
Key challenges that frustrate customers include:
- Inconsistent information: for example, product codes on the website don’t match those in the printed catalogue. Telephone sales staff aren’t aware of an offer that was made via an email campaign.
- Information, actions or account history don't transfer between methods; for example, tele-sales staff offer a discount that doesn’t appear when the order is placed later on line. A customer wants to use the e-commerce site to duplicate an order that was originally made in person via the trade counter, but only the online order history shows up.
- More than one sales person works on the same issue: for example, a customer places a complex sales order including work orders than need to be fulfilled. When the same customer calls back with another instruction, they have to repeat all the original details to a new sales person.
The research revealed the top five omni channel customer service experiences that customers enjoy are:
- My issue is resolved immediately (51%). Customers don’t want to wait. However they have chosen to approach your company, there is something they need, and it’s likely to be preventing them from getting on with their business.Resolving their issue immediately may be as simple as having the right information on your e-commerce site. This means not only ensuring that the site is up to date at all times, but also structured so that the information can be easily found.
- The rep already knows what I need and provides me with an immediate solution (49%). Whilst your sales staff can’t actually be clairvoyant, they can appear to be if they have access to up-to-date, detailed customer information, such as account profile and order history, responses to marketing campaigns, credit information, personalised offers and discount information and targeted upselling and cross selling suggestions.
- The rep knows what I already did in a self-service channel (42%). This requires you to take a customer-centric view of all activities, not a product, branch or sales centric view, and it requires customer account information to be updated in real-time.
- My information / actions are forwarded from department to department (42%). So accounts are aware of a returned order, and don’t invoice for it; marketing are aware when the key decision maker changes role; delivery drivers know when customers have introduced a new goods received procedure.
- My routine needs are answered proactively (40%). You proactively contact customers when you are aware of a problem, before they have a chance to contact you. You remind customers about a quarterly order – and proactively check whether they want a duplicate order for their new branch. You proactively email a quotation before the customer has got off the phone.
Combining these experiences with a reliable and fully integrated ERP system, you will be able to offer your customers the best service possible.
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