Omnichannel is a word that irritates me. I hear it as industry speak, jargon, a made-up word. And all of this is true. However, it doesn’t take away from the importance and value of understanding and acting on omnichannel communication to create customer service excellence.
Omni comes from the Latin “omnis”, meaning “every, all”, and channel is a way, path or method. The majority of us are already involved in omnichannel communication with our customers – email, text, phone, website forms, etc.
What’s important is to test these methods ourselves and stay current on our customers’ preferences. My all-time favorite way of testing both sales and customer service strategies is to experience them myself, which I’ve done in the three stories I’m sharing this week.
What’s been my recent omnichannel experience as a customer? And how have I learned more about customers’ current preferences?
Last week was hectic in terms of online webinars and coaching sessions. In four days I was on-camera for over 12 hours, all of it being recorded and sent to clients for future reference. Except something went wrong for two of these recordings.
It was toward the end of my day on Tuesday. The recordings from two one-on-one coaching sessions that had ended at noon were still not available for download. This was highly unusual; I needed help. Online resources, including a chatbot, weren’t helpful. I entered my question into live chat where I was connected with Marjurette. She was amazing.
What made this experience extremely valuable to me was her straightforward and clear style of communication. When she knew that research was needed, she gave me a time frame, saying, “Please give me 3-5 minutes” and then “I’m still analyzing this, thank you for your patience. Please give me 3-5 minutes to further check on this for you.”
As I was in the midst of organizing supper and needed the flexibility to move away from my screen, this created a straightforward and seamless experience. I also appreciated that at no time was I left wondering if Marjurette had disappeared, forgotten about me. I knew, right from the beginning of our chat, that my situation would be resolved. It is evident that Zoom has put tremendous effort into analyzing, creating and training their live chat team.
According to April 2022 statistics published by ChannelReply, millennials prefer live chat over all other customer service methods. Not chatbots though – 40% find them totally unhelpful.
At the end of this month, we’ll be having a quiet celebration at my house. It will be two years since our caregiver, Helen, arrived and we are incredibly blessed by her presence in our lives. (As many of you know, my husband, David, has early-onset Alzheimer’s.) Helen comes Monday to Thursday at 10 am and takes David out – to a beach or a park, to visit friends, or drop off donations at various charities. They walk (and walk), eat lunch and generally have a lot of fun, returning home around 3 pm.
Last year we celebrated with her favorite cake (a perfect and elegant carrot cake from Delectable Desserts) but this year she’s been quite firm that, because all the walking is allowing her to lose weight, she doesn’t want cake.
What to do? Well my nickname for her is “Captain Adventure”. I went online and found a useable black, gender-neutral icon with a cape and added “Captain Adventure!” underneath. I then headed over to Vistaprint, found the right t-shirt, uploaded the design and then … hesitated. I’m not a graphic designer. What if this t-shirt arrived with the icon all blurry and horrid? I picked up the phone.
The first thing that impressed me was how quickly my call was answered. The second was how easily Melanie was able to view what I submitted. She took interest in the story of why this t-shirt was important and she confirmed that the final product would look fine. I was able to place my order with confidence – and didn’t incur additional design expenses for one t-shirt.
Next to live chat, phone conversations remain the most popular with 66% saying it’s their preference. This is a decrease from 76% in 2019 according to ChannelReply, but still incredibly significant. Of course, as The Phone Lady, I’m very pleased!
While we may not consider ourselves “customers” of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), how this government department communicates with us certainly has a huge impact on our businesses – and our emotional well-being.
Back in January, I received a notice that one section of my 2019 business return was being audited. The problem was that I had completely missed seeing this email and my response to the audit was due at the end of the previous month. Uh oh.
I immediately picked up the phone. The numbers given were all in British Columbia, meaning a four-hour time difference. I reached the voicemail of André, left as succinct a message as possible, asking him if I should proceed with responding or if it was already too late.
He called back and got my voicemail. Rather than simply leave his phone number, he commented on the clarity of my message, let me know that he had extended my deadline and gave me details of what do to next.
We went back and forth in this way several times in the next 60 days, only speaking to each other in real time once. The result? My reply to the audit was received, reviewed and approved by CRA. No additional taxes owing for 2019. Whew!
ChannelReply’s recent stats don’t specifically mention voicemail, and I’m well aware that many businesses and individuals consider it an unnecessary aspect of their communication strategy. They are wrong. Voicemail supports, supplements and even serves to complete an excellent customer service experience.
I found all of the stats and information provided in ChannelReply’s post valuable. We know that loyalty and trust depend on communicating effectively with our customers. And we know that referrals and repeat business rely on our continued diligence in this area. Staying updated on customer preferences is essential.
Consider your answer to this question: When did I/we last audit our customer service channels and experiences? If you haven’t done this in over a year, it’s time to make it a priority. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can help – book a discovery call here.