Omni-channel customer service is having a moment. It’s still too early for everybody to be interacting with companies through online chat portals, but also too early to expect them to give up the telephone (and even the fax machine).
The majority of businesses claim to provide an omnichannel experience. But in reality, they don’t, even if they use multiple channels to communicate with customers. The reason for this is that multi-channel is where a company offers a few different ways of getting in touch, whereas omnichannel is where those methods work together in unison.
Although it is difficult, some companies are managing it. Here are the brands that nailed the omnichannel experience.
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Chipotle is a Mexican restaurant chain that wants to go big, rather like Dominos did in the early 2000s. But to do so, it needs to deal with a few bugbears that customers have with the restaurant industry in general.
A significant bugbear is having to order online but then having to wait for the order to be delivered once a customer arrives at the restaurant. It makes the online ordering part pointless.
Chipotle has tried to get around this through a cleverly integrated app. They allow not only specific customers, but also their entire teams, to order ahead and then be sat down and eating within minutes of entering the restaurant.
Bank Of America
Bank of America is still developing its omnichannel experience. But it is doing well – at least for a bank. From VOIP fax delivered to email accounts, to the ability to pay in cheques remotely, the bank is making headway to becoming a genuine omnichannel institution.
Perhaps the most significant innovation is the new app the bank offers, which allows customers to pay their bills without any of the usual hassle involved in setting up payments.
Virgin Atlantic operates in a high competition, low-margin market segment: transatlantic flights. As a result, the company needs to find ways to differentiate itself.
Right now, it’s trying to do this by offering personalised customer service. We’re not talking targeted emails here: rather the ability of individual customer service employees to have relationships with individual customers across time.
Currently, Virgin are trialling a process that will allow them to give customers a point of reference. Rather than ringing up the call centre, hoping that they get the same person, the company actively makes sure that each colleague has a list of active accounts. Far better than just ringing up and hoping for the best.
Starbucks is probably a contender for the most inspiring omnichannel experience in the world right now, thanks to its world-famous app. The original purpose of the app was to provide customers with tangible rewards every time they bought a coffee. But it’s gone way beyond that.
You can order coffees while you’re on the way to the coffee house, top up your balance, and simply collect your drink in the store. It truly integrates the mobile experience with the process of buying a coffee, a daily chore for most busy people.