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BLOG: Why omnichannel customer service will be business critical for CIOs in 2014

Michael Folmer Hansen | Dec. 16, 2013
Bringing multiple sales and customer service channels together to deliver a seamless customer experience across the board will be critical to business success in 2014.

The rapid growth of digital technologies over the past decade has seen consumers become increasingly savvy in the way they purchase goods and services. And if the current rate of technology adoption continues, fuelled by the huge appetite and expectation for 24-7 connectivity, it's a trend that's set to continue.

To keep up with the consumer love affair with all things mobile, tablet or even phablet, vendors have had to improve and increase the number and performance of their sales channels, creating an 'omnichannel' approach to enable customers to buy through multiple avenues.

But while a much more cohesive and consistent purchase experience might have been developed, the key to driving continued business success - an omnichannel customer service approach - is not keeping pace. From talking to our customers we know that this is being earmarked as a major issue for CIOs in the Asia Pacific region, especially given the rising popularity of online retailing.

Bringing multiple sales and customer service channels together to deliver a seamless customer experience across the board will be critical to business success in 2014. Here's why:

Mind the gap

At Zendesk, we recently commissioned a global study though independent research agency Loudhouse, which surveyed 7,000 consumers in seven countries (U.S., U.K., Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, and Japan) to find out what they think about how businesses are performing when it comes to implementing omnichannel strategies[i].

Respondents said there remains a noticeable gap between the level of service that consumers expect and what is actually delivered. Almost three quarters of shoppers (73 percent) said they believed that brands pay more attention to generating sales across multiple channels than they do providing a seamless customer service and nearly nine out of ten consumers say brands need to work harder to create a seamless experience for customers. The particular challenge for brands is that 69 percent of respondents believe expectations for customer service are increasing year-on-year. 

These findings are important because when things go wrong for customers, they will use a number of methods of resolution - anything ranging from a phone call to customer services to an email, online self-service portals and visiting the store.

At the moment, the research says that just seven percent of consumers say they are extremely satisfied with a seamless integrated and consistent service across all channels.

Clearly there's a big gap that needs to filled.

Bridging the gap

Consumers have high expectations about the level of after sales care and support they deserve. Delivering on this expectation across multiple channels is imperative if businesses want to cultivate customer loyalty. Especially so given that, according to the research, three quarters of respondents say they would return to businesses with excellent customer service, a third would spend more money, and over half would recommend the business to friends and family.


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