How To Get Better at Omnichannel Customer Engagement

Brands are going above and beyond to attract and keep their customers engaged.

Think about it. A well-timed festive offer by a brand you like brings a smile to your face and lures you to hit ‘Buy’.

Remember those points you redeemed for a great price slash?

Or the kit of goodies you received from your most loved brand at your doorstep?

(Here’s one I received recently and absolutely loved!)

Swag kit for customer engagement example

Omnichannel customer engagement is all about brands forging strong, long-term bonds with customers by engaging with them through targeted activities on a number of channels, both online and offline. These lasting brand relationships then boost customer loyalty, drive repeat purchases and advocacy while bringing down customer churn.

Moving from multichannel to omnichannel engagement

Ever since the internet has become a popular ‘hangout’ for all, customers have started engaging with brands more digitally all along the purchase lifecycle. From solution search to brand discovery, purchase, and after-sales support, customers look for answers on different digital platforms. 

A McKinsey study1 reveals that more than 50% of customers engage with three to five channels per journey they take to purchase or resolve a request. Companies launch their presence on various channels to engage with customers, including online communities, educative or user-generated content, personalized loyalty and promo programs, multi-channel customer support, etc.

While it’s admirable that brands stay in pace with customer expectations and incorporate multiple channels along the customer journey, managing conversations over various touchpoints has brought in certain hurdles to a great customer experience.

Customer interactions get siloed in individual channels, and the insights mined from these conservations stay clogged in separate platforms and tools. For example, the social media support team may be completely unaware of a query that a customer brings up for the third time after contacting the sales and payment departments earlier. Though it may look like the very first interaction to the social media team, to the customer, it’s the third time they’re repeating themselves to the brand.

Customers don’t feel heard, get frustrated, and find it hard to engage with brands due to the broken and disconnected customer experience.  

By 2022, 50% of large organizations will have failed to unify engagement channels, resulting in a disjointed and siloed customer experience that lacks context – Gartner

The challenge for customer-centric brands lies in tapping into what customers voice out at every touchpoint, integrating these insights to create a complete view of the customer, and catering to their needs seamlessly with an omnichannel customer engagement solution.

Let’s quickly look at certain brands that have deliberately incorporated an omnichannel customer engagement strategy and then dive into actionable tips to improve your customer engagement plan.

3 Examples of brands that get omnichannel customer engagement right

Though fashion and retail companies have a definite upper hand in creatively engaging with their customers, industries like banking and healthcare can also chart out distinct customer engagement initiatives, as seen in these examples. The secret lies in knowing what customers may find helpful and attractive in these engagement activities.

#1 Nordstrom – Retail

Leading American fashion retailer – Nordstorm knows best how to tackle changes in fashion and shopping trends. No, they don’t stop with just selling clothes, footwear, and bags. They sell an experience.

Understanding the emotional need of people to look and feel good in the clothes and accessories they purchase, Nordstrom offers a range of style help for shoppers on multiple channels2. Stylists give quick fashion tips, fit and color recommendations both in-store and virtually via a 30-minute video chat.

And, if you’re not a video chat person, they also have the Trunk for you. Share your style preferences and receive a trunk of related outfits at your doorstep. You can try the outfits and purchase the ones you like while returning the rest. 

Nordstorm retail example for customer engagement
Nordstorm driving omnichannel customer engagement through their various style help options

Hey, when someone goes above and beyond to make me feel good in what I wear, I’m one engaged customer for sure.

#2 Citibank – Banking

Loyalty and rewards programs that encourage repeat purchases make a great customer retention strategy. Banks extend exclusive offers and attractive cashbacks for customers who use their cards or account for completing a transaction. 

Citibank doubled down3 on their omnichannel customer engagement strategy by acting on an increase they noticed in mobile interactions, especially towards their ThankYou Rewards webpage. 

They then worked on helping customers redeem rewards ‘anywhere, anytime.’ Partnerships with payment merchants like PayPal and in-app prompts to redeem points when a customer purchases, making their rewards program successful.

Citi Bank - an example for omnichannel customer engagement in banking
Citi Bank engaging customers through their rewards program on multiple touchpoints

#3 Doctor Anywhere – Healthcare/Technology

Convenience and reliability form the basis of healthcare customer engagement. To cater to the complex needs of customers in the healthcare domain, a newly launched Asian startup – Doctor Anywhere4, with an omnichannel approach.

Though telemedicine and virtual doctor appointments gained momentum during the pandemic, the team at Doctor Anywhere soon realized the need for in-clinic visits. Customers can book virtual consultations, home care services, or physical visits to a clinic through their intuitive mobile app.

Doctor Anywhere App as an example for omnichannel approach
Doctor Anywhere offers multiple online and offline options for patient care

They also deliver medicines to patients and maintain a secure database of patient records which customers can utilize for health and wellness plans or long-term management of lifestyle diseases.

5 Tips to improve your omnichannel customer engagement strategy

#1 Respect the channel your customers prefer

Based on the digital channels that customers use daily for their casual conversations, their preferred communication channels for purchase inquiries and support vary. A digital-first customer may prefer instant messaging instead of typing out a lengthy mail. It’s wise to adapt your channel mix accordingly and not force or frustrate customers with outdated engagement channels.

Omnichannel customer engagement for Digital-first customers

If communities attract high levels of customer engagement, pushing engagement via email newsletters may drain your resources without substantial ROI. Analyzing which channels your customers like to interact with and making it easy for them to reach out to your business eases omnichannel customer engagement. 

Also, there’s a significant cost advantage for businesses as well. When you introduce more options for customers to interact with your brand, you can switch to low-cost channels and save engagement spend. Our research, in partnership with Forrester, shows that companies can realize cost savings of $2.88 million by providing omnichannel support and shifting customer interactions to lower-cost channels like live chat.

#2 Maintain good response times across channels

The more, the merrier is true with channels as long as you’re mindful of the speed at which you respond to your customers in each channel. Different channels have different acceptable first response times based on how customers perceive a specific channel; 77% of customers5 expect responses on live chat in under a minute, 40% of consumers6 expect a reply on social media within the first hour, and the average acceptable response rate for email is at 24 hours.

When your business fails to meet the average response time of a particular channel, customers don’t feel heard. They don’t see a conversation coming through. They’re not engaged. Customers turn unhappy and brand perception takes a hit.

With the volume of comments and inquiries you receive, maintaining and managing customer interactions must be hard. An advanced omnichannel customer engagement software with powerful integrations pulls all customer interactions from email, chat, social media, and contact center into a single screen. You can also automatically route these queries to dedicated team members skilled at handling individual channels after setting agent workload limits.

Route customer queries from multiple channels to dedicated agent groups on Freshdesk Omnichannel

#3 Keep customer data easily accessible for contextual communication

Every customer interaction brings you a step closer to what a customer needs, wants, or expects. Unfortunately, these valuable customer insights often reside in silos when multiple channels are used for engagement, leading to a fragmented view of the customer.

After any interaction, customers feel that they’ve voiced their needs and expect brands to pick up the conversation without any hassles, irrespective of the team or channel they choose to communicate. So it becomes essential to hold a master record of customers’ details and make it available across support, marketing, sales, and customer success teams for a delightful omnichannel customer experience.

Also, find out how to increase retention, growth, and advocacy with Freshdesk + Freshdesk Customer Success.

Recording customer contact information along with a timeline of their past interactions with your brand helps you know your customers better. By looking at how satisfied or unhappy a customer was with their previous interactions, you can gauge their sentiment towards your brand and communicate relevantly. You also get to know which channel they use the most to reach out to you, which helps you tailor your brand engagement activities for a specific platform. 

Freshdesk allows you to enrich your customer timelines further with activity APIs that pull data from other tools like your CRM or payment solution. Knowing a customer’s recent purchases, payment modes, and product preferences, empowers your business to communicate with context across channels.

Customer timelines on Freshdesk
Give contextual support with detailed customer timelines on Freshdesk

#4 Get feedback for interactions instantly

Customer feedback is a goldmine of insights that helps you progress in omnichannel engagement. Understanding what went well or not after resolving a customer query allows you to see where you stand against customer expectations. 

Collecting feedback immediately after an interaction enables you to capture a customer’s emotion precisely. You can follow up your interaction with a customized survey form that feels like a part of the engagement process rather than a separate task for your customers.

Apart from popular survey methods like customer satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), or Customer Effort Score (CES), you can also frame specific questions to know how different interactions went. For example, you can enquire about the speed of delivery or the product knowledge of a support agent. If you want further details to boost your customer experience, tell customers how they’re helping you and get their consent before going ahead with additional questions.

IKEA requesting for detailed feedback
Specific feedback questions help in deriving useful customer insights

Posting survey forms or scheduling short calls with customers belonging to niche community forums is also another way to gather actionable feedback. You’ll find engaged customers eagerly voicing their opinions in such forums, and they know your brand better than anyone.

#5 Track engagement across channels

Once you’ve set up different customer engagement channels, it’s important to measure how your customers engage across each of these platforms. You’ll then be able to spot which of these engagement activities your customers really love and focus your efforts there while playing with a different strategy for a channel that garners the least engagement.

Sample metrics to track engagement include –

  • Number of signups for loyalty programs
  • Social media likes, comments, and shares 
  • Email open and click-through rates
  • Number of active and new community members
  • Referral code usage
  • Website traffic and unique visits

Depending on the engagement channel, you can choose and track the metrics you want to monitor. 

To give a consistent experience, you also need to keep a tab on how your team is faring in terms of average response times and resolution rates across multiple channels. A spike in these numbers indicates the need for internal team restructuring or training to keep customer engagement up. A single dashboard to view these team metrics across multiple channels gives you the ability to see all the action in a glance.

Freshdesk Omnichannel metrics dashboard
Get a consolidated view of customer engagement trends on multiple channels with Freshdesk Omnichannel dashboard

Enhance your omnichannel strategy with a powerful customer engagement platform

Customers adore brands that make them feel special and valued. Engaging your customers on multiple channels with hyper-personalized communication, targeted campaigns, and speedy support shows that you care about your customers and prioritize their interests. Intelligent and omnichannel technology helps you deliver personalized engagement at scale and grow customer lifetime value.

Freshdesk Omnichannel empowers your business to engage in meaningful conversations across every channel with your customers and delight them at every step. We have been recognized as the only ‘Visionary’ in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM customer engagement center (CEC) market, and our omnichannel solution has been called out for its strong vision in digital customer service. Read the full report by Gartner here.

Ready to deliver seamless experiences across channels to engage and delight your customers using omnichannel customer engagement software?


Originally published on January 31, 2019. Updated on November 9,2021.



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