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Why ignoring omnichannel is bad for customers and costs

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20th Aug 2013
Contributor MyCustomer.com
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Not yet convinced that omnichannel is more future than fad? Well, according to new research from Forrester, it’s time to get your house in order if you want to satisfy consumers' changing expectations. 

The analyst firm teamed up with KANA Software to create the report Your Customers Are Demanding Omni-Channel Communications. What Are You Doing About It?, which found that three quarters of consumers move to other communication channels when they’re unsatisfied with their first contact methods.

Forrester’s study further revealed that 71% of consumers claim that valuing their time is most important thing a business can do to provide good customer service. And failure to manage service queries can be costly – half (52%) of those consumers surveyed said they would abandon an online purchase altogether if they couldn’t find a quick answer to their question.

But despite this, companies are struggling to provide consistent customer experience across multiple channels.

In its methodology, Forrester surveyed 50 customer experience decision-makers in the US from organisations of 5,000 or more employees and found customer experience to be a strategic priority for 92% of the firms, unsurprisingly.

However, this is not necessarily the main priority for the rest of the business with just 23% specifying customer experience as their main goal, the figures showed.

The report also revealed that most firms have outdated customer service technology and managerial procedures that do not adjust quickly for customer’s evolving expectations to be served consistently across a variety of service channels.

A third of companies admitted that their agents simply lack the required access to back-office systems to address basic customer questions, such as “Where is my order?” whilst 40% of agents struggle to resolve problems quickly due to poor collaboration with peers or subject matter experts, the report showed.

And in the age of the omnichannel customer, these inadequacies are proving costly with 42% of agents having to manage inquiries via voice, chat, email or social media.

James Norwood, CMO for KANA Software, said of the findings: “Successful customer service strategies require alignment across people, process and technology. 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 fulfil it improves the customer experience and yields revenue-generating rewards, including increased wallet share per customer, cross-sell opportunities and new customer acquisitions.”

Forrester concluded with some words of advice: “Companies must define their customer experience strategy and ensure that their customer service operations are aligned with and support their company strategy. Processes that customer service organizations follow must allow for effortless, personalized, and context-aware service; must be consistent across communication channels; and must allow for omnichannel communications to support customers moving between channels. The right technologies must also be chosen to empower agents to focus on delivering customer service in-line with expectations today and in the future.”

Former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy recently told MyCustomer.com that brands must harness Big Data if they are to serve customers serve customers not just through multiple channels but across channels. 

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