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The necessary evil of omnichannel communication

The necessary evil of omnichannel communication

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You just received a text from a clothing brand: SALE 35% OFF. You get an email about a furniture shipment that’s out for delivery. As you open your email, a push notification from a marketplace alerts you that the seller has finally responded to your message. 

Customers are used to receiving business communications over multiple channels, making it hard to track business communications and sometimes adding necessary friction. 

Businesses also run into the risk of spamming their user through multiple channels. Hopefully, your customer has subscribed to their methods of choice. Still, customer communications are most valuable when they add value – not only to your business but to the customer’s experience. 

You can’t really communicate your newest product offering and ebook launch in a tweet, and emails are better used for longer messages (Imagine a company sending a 280-character email to their entire list with just a link attached). 

The point is that not all communication channels are created equal, but relying only on one makes growth impossible. This is the necessary evil of omnichannel. 

An omnichannel, or multi-channel, strategy is the norm for modern businesses that understand customers are everywhere. Omnichannel establishes the importance of customer communication — across sales, marketing promotions, transactions, support, and other stages in the customer journey — so every touchpoint feels personal, easy, and connected.   

What is omnichannel communication?

Omnichannel communication, product mockup for email, sms, in-app

Omnichannel, or omni-channel, communication happens when a business delivers a consistent experience across any customer touchpoint. It is lead nurturing and user engagement where a company communicates products, offers, and support services to customers across many channels with the same brand voice and experience. 

These channels could include websites, mobile apps, SMS, social media, email, live chat, and even physical channels such as kiosks and stores. But none of these channels mean anything unless they talk to each other to provide personalized support or offer something none of the other channels can. 

For the purpose of this blog, we’ll be focusing on digital omnichannel strategy. 

What does an omnichannel communication strategy look like?

To create and execute a successful omnichannel strategy, you have to identify the communication channels you already use. Discuss with your team if there are any missed opportunities: 

  • Could you answer more support questions over social? 
  • Do you have the personnel to maintain live chat? 
  • How many leads are coming in through email?
  • Are you missing in-app messaging that could bridge the gap between business-to-customer interactions and customer-to-customer chat?

Understanding your buyers’ journey will also help you determine what your audience’s preferred channels are at each stage, which can vary from industry to industry

Once you’ve identified your channels, you must develop a brand voice. Whether you’re marketing a new product or offering support on any of these channels, consistency is key when it comes to getting customers to trust you. 

These channels should also be timely, so customers don’t message an agent and wait an hour for a response or visit your social platforms to see that you haven’t posted in three months. 

Finally, you must set, understand, and communicate your KPIs for each channel with your team. Odds are, you have some channels that reach more customers than others. Spending more time and resources on these channels might make more sense if they drive more business, but maybe you want to grow your contact list in new channels. 

Examples of communication channels

You are likely already familiar with email, social media, and SMS. And given a choice, most businesses want personal, engaging, and convenient ways to communicate with their customers that build new relationships and drive loyalty. 

This is why in-app messaging is becoming another popular communication channel for businesses to add to their omnichannel strategy because it allows businesses to have personal and ongoing conversations with customers — with customer data that stays native. 

SMS

SMS stands for short message service, and it is the most common form of text messaging. It has a 160-character limit, and can pretty much only consist of text. 

Today, SMS is not just used between friends and family, but also widely used in application-to-person (A2P) messaging, which enables businesses to contact their customers by sending a text from their application using an SMS API. One of the most common examples of this is the code your bank sends you when you try to log in from a new device.

With SMS it is hard for users to know the sender’s identity — making communication feel impersonal and difficult to trust. SMS has also become rife with phishing scams, raising concerns over its effectiveness, especially when expecting users to tap on links.

Email

Average email click rates have dropped to 1.39%, forcing marketers to think about new channels to reallocate their acquisition spends on. As a channel for support, email is too slow. If a customer interacts with a brand through a form and is redirected to an email with a 24-hour response SLA, realize that the customer is experiencing friction and will go to a competitor who provides a faster experience.  

While email is great for a lot of things, like content newsletters and longer-form internal communication, as an outward-facing channel, it has diminishing returns. 

Live-chat

With live chats there is an expectation of agents to be ‘live’ on the chat — putting a huge burden on your business. On the other hand, if the customer gets distracted during a live chat, the chat might time out, disconnecting the customer and making them wait for the next available agent only to repeat their issue. 

Because live chats are typically session-based, even though a customer might have been a customer for years, every time they start a new chat, it’s like meeting the customer for the first time. 

That said, live chat can be useful for easy-to-answer support questions.

Chatbots

Chatbots are software applications that simulate human conversation. Chatbots follow a set of pre-determined rules or questions that mimic real-life interactions to answer customer questions or lead them to an asset on your website or app. 

Chatbots can be guided through logic or AI, and are used in many use cases from support to content marketing. Chatbots are great for web, and sometimes mobile marketing, but exist as an in-platform channel. 

Social media

Everyone knows the power of social. From Instagram leading to an increase in brand-fueled UGC to Duolingo taking over TikTok, social exists as a right-of-passage marketing channel that few modern brands are immune to. 

Some businesses take to social as an added support channel, with HubSpot being a great example of this. 

Social gives brands the opportunity to interact with their audience in a way that’s personal and brand-relevant. The hard part is getting people to listen. 

Push notifications

Coupled with in-app messaging, push notifications can bring users back into your app and remind them of what’s left in their cart, alert them of a promotion or delivery time, or bring them back to socially engage with other users. 

If users have their push notifications on, they can receive notifications from your app at any time. Push notifications are a great alternative to SMS, as they allow for media-rich communication and can side-step federal messaging regulations and costs. 

In-app messaging

In-app messages are messages delivered to your users while they are directly active in your mobile app. Usually, in-app messaging features rely on push notifications to bring users back into the platform. 

In-app messaging connects businesses with customers in a personal way, creating a sense of connection — that immediately inspires confidence and trust in the business.  

Why is omnichannel important? 

Paying attention to multiple channels and delivering a consistent customer experience across the board is difficult. But as messaging experts, we can’t sit back and tell you to only focus on one. 

More consistent customer data

To gain consistent customer data, businesses can use an omnichannel communication strategy to track and analyze customer interactions and preferences across all channels. By using a variety of channels, businesses can gain a more comprehensive understanding of their customers and their needs. This data can be used to improve marketing campaigns, personalize the customer experience, and make informed business decisions. 

For example, by tracking customer interactions across multiple channels, businesses can identify the most effective channels for engaging customers and tailor their communication strategy accordingly. By using an omnichannel approach, businesses can gain a more complete and consistent picture of their customers and use this data to make more informed decisions. 

Improve CSAT metrics

An omnichannel communication strategy can help businesses improve customer satisfaction metrics through convenience, personalization, speed, and improved customer support. 

By providing customers with multiple options for getting in touch with the business and addressing their concerns, businesses can make it easier for customers to interact with them and resolve issues, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty. Customer data, then, can help further personalization within customer service interactions. 

Meet customers where they are

Nobody wants to shout into the void. Bringing business communications directly to customers is the entire point of an omnichannel strategy – but for this to be successful you not only have to consider where your customers are, but also how they are. 

The tone of a social post can vary greatly from that of a push notification or SMS message. Knowing what your customer is expecting out of a channel, in addition to occupying that channel in the first place, is the key to engagement. 

Higher return on investment (RoI)

Better customer relationships lead to increased sales, improved customer retention, enhanced marketing efficiency, and cost savings.

It’s no surprise, then, by effectively reaching and engaging with customers through multiple channels, businesses can increase sales and revenue. 

By using customer data to tailor marketing campaigns and focus resources on the most effective channels, businesses can enhance marketing efficiency. 

In-app messaging works with your omnichannel communication strategy

The channel comparisons: Push notifications vs email, SMS vs in-app messaging, SMS vs email, are unlimited. For a modern customer messaging strategy, an omnichannel point-of-view is the way to go. 

At Sendbird, we’re big on how in-app messaging amplifies customer engagement, increases sales, and eases communication. Businesses that add in-app messaging to their omnichannel strategy utilize the importance of messaging to the modern consumer. 

Give our messaging demos a try today, and see Sendbird in action.

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