How well does your organization execute the omnichannel customer experience? Is there awareness around it? Is it a priority?

If you answered “No,” it’s time to rethink this. As I noted in a post from this summer: You must protect [your brand] at all costs. And by the way, your customers know your brand – they don’t care about your business model. They care about the experience they (know they) are going to get when they enter an establishment with your name over the door. This applies not just to partnerships or licensees, which the post was referring to, but also to your various channels (store, online, phone, etc.) of operation.

Delivering consistent and seamless omnichannel experiences for customers must be a priority for businesses in 2014. Expectations are already there and rising. If it’s not already, make sure this is an area of focus as soon as possible.

Not convinced? Need some help selling this notion to your executives?

You’re in luck. Zendesk recently commissioned research to explore customer service attitudes and behaviors among 7,000 consumers across seven countries (Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US). I’ve captured some highlights of their research below, and you can download the full report here. Note that these are overall findings, and as we know, there are certainly variations by country. Download the report and look at the findings more closely for your country.

  • Showrooming is alive and well. 67% of online shoppers have made purchases in the past six months that have involved multiple channels, e.g., visited a store, looked at a catalog, or called the retailer before purchasing online.
  • The focus is clearly on acquisition and not on retention. 73% think brands pay more attention to generating sales across multiple channels than they do to providing a seamless, integrated customer service experience.
  • 87% say brands need to work harder to create that seamless experience.
  • Sadly, only 7% are “extremely satisfied” that brands provide a seamless, integrated, and consistent customer service experience across channels
  • I think we already know this, but it’s great to get confirmation to sell the concept: 69% believe expectations for customer service are increasing year-over-year.
  • Not convinced of that last statistic? Here’s more supporting evidence: 37% now expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative regardless of which channel they use, and 47% expect to be able to return purchases through a different channel than the purchase channel. Can your organization handle either of those requirements?
  • 64% expect to receive real-time assistance, regardless of the customer service channel they use.
  • Customers are persistent; 45% say they will try any channel open to them – and wait as long as it takes – to get their queries resolved!
  • The need for self-service is alive and well: 53% think it’s important to resolve their own issues rather than rely on customer service representatives. Hmm. Why do they feel that way?
  • 78% say a company’s reputation for customer service is important to them when choosing to buy from a particular brand.
  • Customers who have used other channels to contact customer service resort to picking up the phone if they don’t get a response.
  • Resolution expectations vary by channel: 
    • Phone: 50% expect a response immediately, and 59% expect resolution within 30 minutes.
    • Social media: 52% expect to get a response within 2 hours, and resolution within a half day.
    • Email: 62% expect a response within a half day, while 75% expect resolution within a day.
  • The most important aspects of the customer service experience, regardless of channel are speed of response (89%), speed of resolution (89%), and friendliness of representative (82%).

Note that in my experience, quality of resolution is also a key driver of satisfaction with the support experience – for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are expectations that  (a) the problem will get fixed when I call and (b) it will stay fixed.

A closing thought from the report: Fundamentally businesses must work harder to create a seamless service experience for customers [across all channels]. The customer journey doesn’t simply stop at the checkout, but carries on for many years to come.

Words after my own heart…