Your customers’ buying and support experiences highly determine whether they come back and make repeat purchases.
An omnichannel customer support strategy not only handles issues customers may have with your product but also helps you gain better insight into the customer journey and determine areas where customers are having difficulties before resolving these issues for them.
In this article, we explore omnichannel ecommerce customer support strategy in-depth, why it is crucial for businesses (especially in 2023), and the best practices to follow while planning and executing it.
What is omnichannel ecommerce customer support?
Omnichannel ecommerce customer support strategy integrates multiple communication channels to provide a seamless and consistent customer support experience across all touchpoints. It allows customers to interact with a company through their preferred channels — whether it’s social media, phone, email, chat, or any other (consumer-prefered) communication platform.
By offering an omnichannel approach, companies can provide a convenient, personalized, and most importantly a unified experience for their customers, which directly results in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Why omnichannel customer support matters for ecommerce
Improved customer satisfaction
By offering multiple support channels, such as live chat, phone, email, social media, and in-person assistance, ecommerce companies can cater to a variety of customer preferences. This flexibility allows customers to seek help in their preferred manner and at their convenience.
When customers receive assistance in the way they want, it leads to higher satisfaction levels. Plus, this easy and memorable experience compels them to keep coming back to buy from you.
Increased customer loyalty
Providing a positive and seamless support experience across multiple channels contributes to customer loyalty. When customers feel valued, heard, and supported, they are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty toward the brand.
And loyal customers are key to recurrent sales and positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Higher retention rates
When customers can easily access help and find solutions to their concerns or issues, they are more likely to stay with the company.
A smooth and efficient support experience reduces customer frustration and enhances their overall experience, increasing the likelihood of them remaining as loyal customers.
Valuable customer insights
Through multiple customer support channels, ecommerce companies can gather valuable insights about their customers. By analyzing customer inquiries, feedback, and preferences across different channels, businesses can identify patterns, pain points, and areas for improvement.
These insights can guide strategic decision-making, product enhancements, and overall customer experience enhancements.
Best practices for omnichannel ecommerce customer support
Identify customer needs and preferences
To provide omnichannel customer support, businesses need to figure out what their customers need and desire. When doing so, please give close attention to:
Customer journey mapping
To provide seamless support, businesses must have a clear understanding of their customer’s journey and the channels they prefer at each stage. Mapping out the customer journey helps identify touchpoints where customers seek assistance and enables businesses to align their support channels accordingly.
Leveraging customer data is vital for understanding patterns and trends in customer behavior. Analyzing data from various sources, such as website analytics, customer support interactions, and purchase history, can provide valuable insights into customer preferences, pain points, and expectations.
Actively seeking and listening to customer feedback is essential for understanding their needs and expectations. Surveys, interviews, focus groups, and social media polls are effective methods for gathering qualitative and quantitative feedback. Paying attention to customer complaints, suggestions, and comments helps businesses identify areas for improvement and shape their support strategy accordingly.
Utilizing customer data and feedback enables businesses to tailor support interactions based on individual preferences, previous interactions, and purchase history. This personalization can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and retention.
Provide self-service options
Customers today expect to be able to find answers to their questions and solve their own problems without having to contact customer support. That’s why it’s important to provide them with a robust self-service support system to meet their expectations and enhance their experience.
Here’s how ecommerce businesses can leverage self-service customer support effectively:
By offering self-service resources like knowledge bases, FAQs, and tutorials, businesses empower customers to take control of their support needs. This independence leads to higher satisfaction as customers can quickly resolve their issues without relying on customer support.
When customers can find answers independently, it reduces the volume of incoming support inquiries and the need for additional customer support agents. This cost-saving benefit is particularly valuable as businesses scale and handle larger customer bases.
Diverse self-service resources
Offering a variety of self-service resources goes beyond just a knowledge base or FAQs. Creating how-to videos, blog posts, troubleshooting guides, community forums, and interactive tutorials provides customers with different options to find the support they need.
Diversifying the resources helps cater to different learning styles and preferences, improving the overall self-service experience.
Empower the customer support team
The customer support team is the front line of businesses. They are the ones dealing with customers day in and day out, and they are the ones who ultimately determine if the customers leave with a happy or satisfied experience. That’s why it’s so important to provide comprehensive training and ongoing support to the customer support team.
There are few things that companies can do to make sure the customer support team is always prepared to dazzle the customers with the best possible experience:
Product and service training
Customer support team members should have a deep understanding of the offerings, features, and benefits. This knowledge enables them to provide accurate and helpful information to customers, resolving their queries and issues effectively. Regular training sessions should be conducted to keep the team updated on any changes or updates to the product(s).
Communication and empathy training
Support reps should be trained in active listening, clear and concise communication, and conveying empathy and understanding. These skills help build rapport with customers, make them feel heard, and contribute to a positive support experience.
Omnichannel support training
Training should be provided on handling customer inquiries and issues across different support channels, including phone, email, live chat, social media, and in-person interactions. Each channel may have specific nuances and requirements, and the team should be equipped to provide consistent and high-quality support across all channels.
Ongoing feedback and coaching
Continuous feedback and coaching sessions are crucial for the growth and development of the customer support team.
Regular performance evaluations, individual coaching sessions, and team huddles can provide opportunities to address challenges, provide constructive feedback, and recognize achievements.
Set up customer support metrics and KPIs
To know if you are really giving your customers the best possible experience, you need to measure the effectiveness of your customer support.
One way to measure customer satisfaction is by setting up customer support metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). By tracking specific metrics, you can get a clearer picture of your customer support team performance, required improvements, and identify the gaping holes that are leaving a bad taste in your customers’ minds.
Here are some key metrics and KPIs that ecommerce businesses can track to gauge the support team performance:
First contact resolution rate
It measures the percentage of customer inquiries or issues resolved during the initial contact.
A high FCR indicates that the customer support team effectively addresses customer needs without requiring additional follow-up interactions. Tracking FCR helps identify areas where improvements can be made to increase the team’s efficiency and effectiveness.
Average handle time
This metric measures the average time it takes for a support rep to handle customer interaction, including call duration, chat duration, or email response time.
Monitoring AHT helps identify opportunities to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and reduce customer wait times, leading to a more efficient support experience.
Customer satisfaction score
It is a direct measure of customer satisfaction with the support experience. It is typically obtained through post-interaction surveys or feedback ratings.
Tracking CSAT helps gauge the overall satisfaction levels and identify areas where the support team can improve to enhance customer happiness and loyalty.
This is the time taken by the support team to respond to customer inquiries or issues across different channels. It is particularly relevant in an omnichannel context where customers expect prompt responses.
Monitoring and optimizing response time helps ensure timely support delivery and a positive customer experience.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS measures customer loyalty and likelihood to recommend the company to others. It provides insight into the overall customer perception and sentiment toward the brand and its support.
Tracking NPS helps businesses assess the long-term impact of their customer support efforts and identify opportunities to turn satisfied customers into brand advocates.
Proactively identify and address customer issues
Customers today expect a seamless omnichannel customer support experience. To meet these expectations, you need to proactively identify and address customer issues across all channels.
Here’s how you can do it:
Monitor customer feedback channels
Actively monitor various channels where customers provide feedback — such as social media platforms, customer surveys, review websites, and customer support tickets. This enables you to identify and track customer issues and concerns in real-time.
Capture and categorize customer issues
Collect and categorize customer issues based on their nature, severity, and frequency. This helps you gain a better understanding of the common pain points and areas that require (immediate) attention.
Respond on the same channel
When addressing customer issues, it’s important to respond through the same channel where the issue was originally reported. This demonstrates your commitment to providing personalized support and shows customers that you are attentive to their preferred mode of communication.
For example, if a customer tweets about an issue, you should tweet back with a resolution. If a customer leaves a negative feedback on your website, you should comment back with a resolution there itself.
Provide timely and personalized resolutions
Respond promptly to customer issues and provide personalized resolutions. Tailoring your responses helps you address each customer’s specific concern and ensure the resolution is clear, helpful, and actionable.
Follow up and close the loop
After providing a resolution, it’s important to follow up with the customer to ensure their satisfaction and confirm that the issue has been fully resolved. This demonstrates your commitment to their satisfaction and builds trust and confidence in your support process.
Implementing an omnichannel customer support strategy for your ecommerce business can help you:
- enhance customer satisfaction by providing seamless and consistent experiences across multiple channels like email, live chat, social media, and phone. Customers can choose their preferred communication method.
- improve customer service efficiency through centralized management of interactions, allowing support agents to access customer data and history easily. This leads to quicker issue resolution and personalized support.
- increase customer loyalty and retention by building stronger relationships. Consistent support across channels boosts trust and enhances the overall customer experience.
- get valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling your business to make data-driven decisions for targeted marketing and improvements.