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Omnichannel Contact: More Than Just a Chat Function


In the retail industry, it’s hard to go 5 minutes without someone on the business side of things mentioning the word “omnichannel.” In this environment, omnichannel means exactly what one would expect: utilizing many different channels in the pursuit of getting your products into a consumer’s hands.

This could be a situation where the consumer purchased online and wants to pick up his/her purchases at the local store; or that while in-store our consumer couldn’t find what he or she was looking for and worked with the manager to find it at another location and place an online order.

But what about customer service? What does omnichannel mean to those of us helping out our consumer with any questions about their new purchase?

Omnichannel customer service means something similar: using many different channels to connect with consumers that have questions about their products. You could help the consumer using the traditional way customer service was handled – a phone conversation – or you could converse over email or in a chat room.

Survey after survey shows that consumers prefer to have many different options open to them when it comes to getting help about their purchase. Some people call during the day; others, after work when they can have a moment to talk. Some people hate the idea of talking to an agent and find a text discussion to be most beneficial. Others are okay with the delayed responses that come via email.

But to be truly successful, however, there’s more to omnichannel than simply setting up a chat room or allowing a consumer to text an agent directly. Think back to our consumer that found and ordered his or her goods from a store location across town. What enabled he or she to do so?

Information. An integrated system that allowed the manager of one store to see that the product was in stock nearby was what enabled this omnichannel sale to take place.

It’s the same with customer service. The agents on the front lines answering the questions from consumers need information. What good is it if you set up phone, text, email and chat functions for consumers needing help if the folks on the other end of the line aren’t connected with each other and seeing the same information?

For the customer relationship to be handled properly at a sensitive time – a time when the consumer is already losing confidence in your brand – you need to know everything you can about the consumer. Has he/she contacted us before? Recently? What was the result? How did we help – or did we? Did they try texting us earlier and are now using a different channel, looking for a for a specific result?

Setting up omnichannel customer service options is critical to successfully servicing your customer base. But without a system that shares the information that’s out there and helps agents know everything there is to know about a customer, success will be limited.

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