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Omnichannel customer service more fiction than reality?

It's received wisdom that customers should get service wherever they are -- email, social platforms and so on. So, why is that so tough to achieve?

In customer experience, the buzzword these days is omnichannel: the ability to reach customers in whatever channel they occupy at the moment, even if they suddenly move from Twitter to make a call to the company's call center. And with the bar for customer service getting ever higher, companies are now expected to be able to make these transitions without missing a beat and with all the necessary customer data at the ready.

But even though it's received wisdom to provide service to customers wherever they are, this concept has been tough to achieve in practice.

"It's far from reality because it isn't entirely realistic," said Marshall Lager, a principal at Third Idea Consulting LLC. "And it's often not necessary." Some companies, he said, won't ever use Twitter or Facebook to communicate with customers. "Do I really need to invest company resources on the off chance that a customer might contact the company through Twitter? [The company] needs to be aware, but … [doesn't] need to worry about it."

Both vendors and users need to do some work to bring omnichannel closer to reality. Vendors need to create integration among these channels, and user companies need to decide not only which channels are most important but also to plan for omnichannel strategies from the outset.

"If you try to tie [channels] back together after the fact, you're going to be in for some trouble," Lager said.

Marshall LagerMarshall Lager

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