There is nothing more frustrating than repeating your account information or personal details during a customer service session with a company. Whether it is moving between service representatives on the phone or moving between channels (e.g., live web chat to phone), these experiences stick out like a sore thumb and are one of the top service irritants for customers.

Until a few years ago, most companies offered only one or two service engagement channels to customers. But with the digital explosion and desire by customers to engage with businesses anytime, anywhere using any device, this no longer the norm. A study by Zendesk finds that almost two-thirds of customers expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the customer service channel they use—and this number continues to rise.

 Multiple Engagement Channel Options

There are benefits for companies that offer multiple engagement options, too. According to a Frost & Sullivan study, those offering omnichannel engagement—telephone, email, and live web chat—time to resolution for customer support issues is faster than those using only phone and email channels. Retention rates increase at the same time, which concurrently improve profitability. Considering that a five percent increase in retention can improve profitability by 75 percent, this is a notable business difference.

Recognizing the business value of omnichannel customer service experiences, companies have rushed to embrace multiple engagement channels. Yet, this hasn’t come without its problems. Integration of the engagement channels is near the top of the list. A study by Econsultancy and found that only 22 percent of companies offer integrated customer service experiences. This number includes large enterprises that run their own contact centers, and thus the percentage for small businesses is most certainly lower.

Integrated Customer Experience Means Business Growth

The business case for creating an integrated customer service model is myriad,  but the most important statistic is the fact that customer retention rates skyrocket to 89 percent compared to 33 percent for organizations that lack integration. Startling numbers are also notable from revenue and cost perspectives. Organizations with integrated customer engagement see a 9.5 percent increase in revenue year over year compared to 3.4 percent of those without.  Similarly, companies with integrated customer engagement decrease their cost-per-customer interaction by 7.5 percent annually compared to .2 percent for those without integration.

Customers want and expect great customer service experiences. A recent study found that customers are willing to pay up to 30 percent more for great service experiences. And it isn’t mere words; over half of those customers say they paid more for a product over less expensive options in the past six months because of the service.  Yet, a study by Econsultancy, found that only 22 percent of companies offer integrated customer service experiences. This number includes large enterprises that run their own contact centers, and thus the percentage for small businesses is most certainly lower.

Multiple Channels + Integration = Great Customer Experience

For small businesses seeking to deploy their own service engagement models, going alone may not be the best choice; the vast majority of solutions small businesses elect to implement are siloed and not cross channel.

The result: customers that transition between each of the channels experience a disjointed interaction, whereby their information and history of interaction does not follow them. They must repeat information and customer service agents retry many of the same troubleshooting measures previously attempted. Not only does this increase support costs and elongate the time required to remediate service issues, but it also directly impacts customer retention and loyalty (viz., advocate or detract). 

As an alternative to going it alone, small businesses can look to business communications services providers such as Davinci Virtual Office Solutions that deliver fully integrated engagement experiences, regardless of whether your customers are emailing, talking, texting, or chatting with you. Using scripts, an active database, and technology connections (which are customized to meet the needs of each of Davinci Virtual’s customers), our staff can answer your sales and service calls, emails, texts, and chats, giving your customers a personal touch that makes a lasting impression.

Patrick Spencer, contributing author.