Multi Channel Customer Service: Strategies, Benefits & Challenges

By  
Himani Trivedi
Modified on 
October 18, 2022
7
Min Read
Contents
Multi Channel Customer Service

A decade back, social media apps like Instagram became popular as a way to stay digitally connected to your near and dear ones. Since its inception, platforms have Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have seen many transformations and upgrades. With the recent surge in online consumerism, it was only natural for these platforms to shift towards a more eCommerce-centric approach. This shift has brought forth a change in the way online businesses look at their customer experience. Ecommerce businesses are incentivized to gauge their brand image in terms of social currency accumulated over a number of channels. 

An eCommerce business cannot survive solely on one channel anymore. The discovery of new products has evolved in the last five years. Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok have become the default shoppers' choices. A multichannel experience, which used to be a differentiator, has become the table stake in the eCommerce industry. Your customer needs to talk to you NOW. And they want to do it on their preferred channel. 

But multi channel customer service brings with it its own set of benefits and challenges:

Benefits of Multi channel Customer Service 

In an increasingly-service centric market, customer satisfaction is becoming the key differentiator for growing businesses. Customer expectations have increased over time and multi channel customer service is one of the many new benchmarks in the industry. 

Multi-channel Helpdesk
Multi-channel Help Desk

There are several benefits of multi channel customer service. The most important ones are-

Brand Awareness

Multi channel support, especially on social media, is directly tied to customer engagement. When people interact with a brand on these channels, they expect to see an empathetic friend, sharing updates, thoughts, and even experiences. With an established online presence, a business owner opens up conversations about customer problems, the solutions you offer, and the issues your existing customers may have. 

So brand awareness and multi channel customer service go hand-in-hand. With an established online presence and subsequent brand awareness, people find it easier to connect with your brand on a human level and reach out with their problems. This brings us to the second benefit:

Visibility

I’ll admit that I'm an Instagram addict. I spend a couple of hours scrolling through it, and I can vouch that Instagram ads have single handedly halved my savings!  Since I use this one platform, being able to find the stores that suit my preferences is a big win. And I’m sure it’s the same for businesses who are able to reach their target audience through these platforms. Opening up to multiple channels also allows you to tap into a new pool of potential customers. 

Ease of Use

Convenience is one of the most apparent results of multichannel presence. Customers find themselves spending their time online on various platforms. To be able to use these platforms to communicate their concerns is a big check in terms of customer satisfaction

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Challenges of Multi channel Customer Service: 

Multi channel support isn’t all roses. Setting up a multi channel customer service comes with its own set of challenges.

Multi channel support can be difficult to configure and even more difficult to keep pace with. Even channel prioritization can be a little tricky. A 2001 research study by Forrester showed that 62% of leaders think self-service is the most important channel of customer service. There are two plain reasons for this- 

  1. Customers love to have control and find quick answers to their queries. 
  2. One of the most cost-effective ways to offer customer service.

However, most businesses fail to utilize this channel to their advantage. Consider an eCommerce business that sells pet products- food, hygiene products, and accessories. A website visitor is piqued by the slashed prices and contacts the store to see which food would be best for their dog, who is allergic to lamb. 

There’s no filter on the site, so they shoot a message on the chat, and the AI Bot replies “This pack is the best choice for dogs aged 6-10 months”. It’s not the response you want to hear. 

The struggle with AI/chatbots that do not offer the answers customers want. In other instances, there is an overwhelming number of FAQs leading you down a “link spiral”. What’s worse? 20 tabs later you realize it doesn’t offer you the information you are looking for. 

In fact, research by BT in 2006 pointed out that more channels will increase the number of interactions a customer has with your customer service reps. 

Not only does this frustrate your customers, but it also leads to increased interactions. If the aim was to find an efficient and cost-effective solution- multi-channel support ends up being neither. 

It also affects the business in the long run. When a customer has a bad experience and ends up switching channels to get the point across- they either want to change businesses or look for your competitors. If you have a more substantial presence and more loyal customers- your problem doesn’t end there either. 

When customers have a terrible experience with one channel, they tend to revert to their old or preferred ways of communication like the phone support. This means all the time and money you’ve spent on utilizing other media are going to waste. 

Are you keeping toe-to-toe with your competitors, who can provide support on the other communication channels?

Inefficient multichannel support harms your overall customer satisfaction and their perception of your brand. 

In this way, the value of your customer service is measured by the weakest link in the chain 

To strengthen your customer support, you need to streamline the channels and make sure that the quality of service (in terms of speed and effectiveness) is translated through all the communication channels. 

Omni channel customer service helps achieve just that:

Multi-channel vs. Omnichannel Customer Service

Multichannel and omnichannel customer service are terms used very interchangeably. However, there is a big difference between the two- 

Multichannel customer service is very channel-centric. It focuses primarily on the customer journey through one interaction. The method is widely popular but it is siloed and tends to create an inconsistent customer experience. It is also overwhelming to keep up with this form of customer service. 

Omnichannel customer service is a customer, experience-centric model. It creates an umbrella for all customer communication channels like live chat, phone support, and social media platforms. It is a cohesive model that helps unify all customer communication and streamline the customer experience. 

Omnichannel customer service strategy has an edge over multichannel because of the increased first call resolution. With the right integration and complete customer context provided by omnichannel customer service, the agents can significantly reduce their handle time. 

It also empowers agents with more customer history and deeper context, allowing them to avoid redundancy and have meaningful interactions with customers. It reduces their workload and helps them concentrate on revenue-generating opportunities, which impacts their performance as well as work satisfaction. Having well-planned omnichannel customer service improves agent retention due to these reasons. 

Another benefit of omnichannel customer service is that it helps centralize data and acts as a CRM as well. It allows you to better understand your customers and improve customer service through more targeted selling and data-driven offers. Omnichannel support helps build a better customer profile. 

Omnichannel customer service is an effective customer support system. It helps create an ecosystem. Where businesses can observe the customer interactions to make them more problem-centric rather than channel-centric

Suppose, the data you collect from customer service helps you identify the maximum complaints about warranty. You can utilize the self-service flows to address the more commonly asked questions about warranties. These should be listed first. 

Read Also: Ecommerce Customer Service Best Practices

Conclusion

Multichannel customer service has become the new norm in the ecommerce industry. It allows businesses to cater to their target audience on various platforms and expand their reach. It offers their customers a sense of convenience and allows ecommerce businesses to derive value from different platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Live chat and phone support. If you're looking for a cohesive customer support approach that allows you to excel at multichannel customer service you should book a demo with Richpanel today!

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