What makes a top ecommerce brand stand out?
Is it the broad product selection?
The unbeatable prices?
The witty social media activity?
Each one is possible, but — more often than not — the distinguishing factor is exceptional customer support.
After all, it’s hard to offer a remarkable set of products unless you have your own production line (which is an expensive and limiting prospect), profit margins on many products are fairly thin already (so it’s tough to get prices too much lower), and social media charisma wins a lot of plaudits but might not actually sell anything.
A great support service, though, will show customers that you’re reliable and trustworthy, and eventually leave them wanting to support you — to root for your success, just as you helped them achieve theirs.
And key to this in the modern digital age is maintaining an omnichannel contact centre.
What does this mean, and why is it so important? Let’s take a look.
What an omnichannel contact centre does
Omnichannel contact centre.
It sounds quite important, but what does it actually consist of?
Well, in simple terms, it’s a hub for all customer communications, allowing the seller to keep track of all customer queries, comments, and complaints, regardless of their origin.
Think of all the ways in which a customer could ask a question: they could email you, make a phone call, fill in a contact form, tweet at your Twitter account, or even complete a provided feedback request (feedback is incredibly valuable in ecommerce).
If you had had to follow each viable communications channel on a manual basis, it would take up an enormous amount of time, and you’d inevitably miss some mentions.
Through tracking keywords and automatically categorizing mentions, an omnichannel contact centre saves time and effort for sellers and customers alike (as the latter can get queries noticed more easily).
For stability and scalability, omnichannel support must be based in the cloud, supporting numerous integrations to bring together relevant channels and platforms.
It’s interesting to look at how multichannel methods have become standard already — marketing marketing plays a core role in the cloud-based SaaS industry, for instance — as they’re getting the architecture ready for the omnichannel revolution.
What’s the difference?
Well, while multichannel and omnichannel tactics are comparable when it comes to the channels targeted (and the technologies used), they’re structured very differently: the former is built around products, while the latter is built around people.
Omnichannel support tracks the customers, following their activity and helping them wherever possible.
The precedent established by social media
Now that we’ve looked at what an omnichannel contact centre is, you might wonder in what circumstances a company could do without one.
It’s certainly convenient and a time-saver, but it also raises your costs. Why do you even need to support multiple channels?
Surely you can ask your customers to use one particular support channel, and make that a great experience.
Unfortunately, that isn’t realistic — not at this point in the ever-shifting development of the digital world.
In looking for ways to outperform each other, brands have got into the habit of being incredibly proactive with their support.
You’ll commonly see companies hiring large social media teams to hunt down brand mentions, good or bad, and offer support.
It’s tough to blame them when social media criticism can easily snowball and become enormously damaging.
But now that the average ecommerce shopper has been conditioned to expect brands to listen to them wherever they choose to comment, there’s no putting that genie back in a bottle.
All you can do is accept the customer-first dynamic and aim to take advantage as best you can.
Brand goodwill is mission-critical
Could you be successful without omnichannel support? Possibly, if you had a recognizable brand in the right niche, but you wouldn’t be able to maximize your success.
This is due to the immense importance of brand perception.
Every time you provide a great customer experience through your ever-present support service, you slightly improve your overall online sentiment, and you establish brand loyalty that will carry you through tough times.
A loyal customer will buy from you even when your prices aren’t great.
They’ll recommend you to their friends and family members. They’ll provide you with valuable feedback to help you improve your business.
But that loyalty is fragile, and it could be broken by just one poor support experience — one critical tweet that went overlooked, leading them to assume you didn’t care.
Is that a risk that you’re willing to take? It shouldn’t be. Invest in superb customer support through establishing an omnichannel contact centre, and it’ll more than return its value.
To recap, omnichannel support consists of finding, acknowledging and responding to customer comments wherever they take place, and keeping all that information stored in one location for optimal cohesion (whether a customer made a claim in a phone call in an email, it should be fully tracked).
If you want long-term ecommerce success, this is something you can’t afford to overlook.