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Published September 10th 2015

Guide: The Challenges and Benefits of Omnichannel Customer Service

Good customer service makes good business sense.

Today’s switched-on consumer won’t sit on their hands if they suffer a sub-optimal experience with a brand.

A well maintained public image and reputation can be trashed within 140 characters.

An angry customer can create a throw-away account on Reddit to slam bad service. Zero star reviews and stories of suffering through endless phone calls with poorly trained staff can be posted online within minutes.

Even if the organization is not at fault, these public indictments are part and parcel of today’s consumer landscape.

The visible public contract nature of social media channels means that, for many, they’ve become the go to place for getting a response from a brand – with some aggrieved customers (and even non-customers) paying out for social advertising to amplify the reach of their consternation.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 9.30.01 AM


Influencing the 91%

We actively share, seek out and trust peer reviews, with online opinions being the third most trusted source of product information – 74% of consumers identify ‘word of mouth’ as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. And we’re not just talking B2C here;

  • 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth when making their decision to buy. [USM]
  • 61% of IT buyers say that colleague recommendations are the single most important factor when making a buying decision. [B to B Magazine]
  • 56% of B2B purchasers look to offline peer reviews as a source of information and advice – jumping to 88% when online sources are included. [BaseOne]

So as consumer choice widens, so does the competitive set for many businesses – and when it comes to differentiation of brands and products, perception of whether an organization provides a good customer experience can be a deciding factor.

Today, we simply expect more from the companies we interact with: 64% of us expect to receive real-time customer service, regardless of channel, and 78% consider a company’s customer service reputation important when choosing
to buy.

Not only that, don’t make the mistake to assume consumers are loyal. They’re not.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 9.46.19 AM


Despite all of this mounting evidence, the focus for many organizations has been on reaching and acquiring new customers through social, rather than taking the opportunity to service their existing clients more effectively – thus retaining them.

These service models are desperately antiquated in a world where customers want to choose their preferred methods of contact – and can make their issues go viral within hours.

Money talks

Strategically aligning customer service centers with digital channels is saving businesses substantial amounts of money. This is where the big numbers come in.

The IPA reported in 2013 that telecoms giant BT (British Telecoms) had saved $3.1m per year by adopting a more social media-centric approach to their customer service.

Social customer care costs less than $1 per interaction. Compare this with $6 per phone call and $2 – $5 per email – it’s not hard to see where the savings mount up.

Proving the ROI of social customer care is not a hard sell.


Customer service is a key differentiator. Good social customer service reduces churn, drives loyalty and has the ability to increase customer value through the sale of additional products and services.

So why aren’t more businesses moving to a social-cetric model? Because it’s often not simple to create change. Transformation in organizations is a pain point, with experts at McKinsey reporting that 70% of transformation programs fail.

But the tide is changing.

Many organizations are re-calibrating and focusing increasingly on using social for customer retention, proof of the customer experience and increased advocacy through happy customers.

The challenges and implications

The challenges to an organization choosing to make the decision to service customers online will differ from business to business.

A true omnichannel approach is not just opening up new channels for your customers. It is the design, delivery and management of consistent experiences and service levels through combinations of channels used in a customer journey. This takes coordination, time and investment.

The way consumers expect to be able to contact a business is constantly evolving – text and video channels are experiencing current growth – Periscope, Instagram, Vine, WhatsApp, Line, Snapchat; and adding channels can add to costs.

There is a requirement for good leadership and a holistic vision to brand and servicing. Organizations should aim for reducing demands for customer service by fixing things through listening more effectively and simplifying customer journeys to cut down unnecessary service requests.

Despite these challenges, there are businesses doing this exceptionally well.

In the Social Listening in Practice: Customer Service guide, we examine these challenges and implications in detail and offer an in-depth 13-step plan to create a social customer service strategy, as well as studying the brands who are leading the charge.

If you want to learn more about the benefits and impact of social customer service, simply download the guide for free. It makes good business sense.

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