Quicken, an accounting software product by Intuit, was launched back in 1983. In those early days of computing, the term ‘omnichannel’ didn’t exist: the only channels were phone and snail mail and the main platform was DOS
How times have changed. Today, I’m one of five million users of QuickBooks Online, one of Intuit’s modern-day SaaS products. QuickBooks is as omnichannel as it gets: you can do nearly everything on the Quickbooks mobile app that you can on the web version. Some features are even unique to mobile, like automatically tracking mileage and uploading photos of receipts.
But here’s the thing: most SaaS products don’t have this level of feature parity. Usually, the web app is more powerful. Customers using the mobile app are likely to run into missing features, or worse, be forced to close the app and call customer support or sales. When customers can’t get things done easily on the platform of their choice, it’s bad for the customer experience, which negatively impacts growth and retention.
This article will cover what an omnichannel mobile experience means for SaaS companies, and how to put such a strategy together. I’ll also share examples of SaaS companies with impressive omnichannel mobile experiences to give you inspiration for your own.
What Is An Omnichannel Mobile Strategy?
Giving customers a unified and consistent experience regardless of the platform they’re on—with a comparable set of features and capabilities—is at the heart of omnichannel mobile strategy.
Ecommerce and retail businesses were the first to use the term “omnichannel” to describe their efforts to connect the customer experience between online platforms and brick-and-mortar stores, as well as to connect the experience of shopping across different channels.
In the world of SaaS, omnichannel takes on a somewhat different meaning.
What Does Omnichannel Mobile Mean For SaaS?
In the case of SaaS products, there are no brick-and-mortar stores to contend with. Instead, omnichannel mobile for SaaS means thinking of web and app development not as separate initiatives, but as a single seamless experience.
But unifying experiences across all channels is easier said than done.
For SaaS CX leaders, frequent challenges include:
- Adapting for multiple devices, browsers, and operating systems versions.
- Integrating data and metrics across mobile and other channels.
- Consistent branding and UX across mobile platforms.
- Understanding complex cross-channel customer journeys and dropout points.
- Continuously optimizing the mobile experience as new devices emerge.
While there’s a lot for SaaS leaders to focus on, the crux of the omnichannel mobile experience comes down to getting these two factors right:
- Ensuring feature parity across mobile and other channels.
- Allowing customers to contact you on any channel (and unifying it all).
Feature Parity Between Mobile and Web
Feature parity means that anything you can do on one channel should be doable on another.
This kind of mobile-first optimization should be the standard among SaaS companies. But many SaaS products still don’t have true feature parity across all channels. Feature parity is an issue even for heavy-hitters with serious resources, like Netflix: I recently attempted to change my billing details through Netflix’s mobile phone app and was redirected to their website. Attempting to start a live chat on mobile redirected me to their website, too.
Partially, this is a question of resources. Web apps take time to develop. Rolling out those features to separate iOS and Android native apps takes additional time, along with navigating the constraints presented by those platforms. (This leads some SaaS companies, especially startups, to avoid having a mobile app at all).
But this kind of thinking ignores the reality of the customer experience in today’s omnichannel world. Customers want options. And more to the point, they get frustrated when they run into mobile roadblocks: 90% percent of customers have had bad experiences accessing customer support on mobile.
Granted, for some industries, one platform is more important than the other: for example, food delivery and personal finance SaaS are heavily focused on mobile apps, while B2B SaaS and education tend to be more focused on the web. While this might influence how heavily SaaS companies choose to invest in one channel, customers expect an equivalent experience on both platforms either way.
Unified Communication Across Channels
There are an incredible number of ways customers can contact you: email, phone, live chat, mobile chat, website contact form, social media, and SMS (just to name a few). But unless you integrate all those methods, you’re setting yourself up for frustrated customers and an absolute customer support nightmare.
Most decent-sized brands already use Zendesk or other customer experience management software to create a unified inbox for multichannel messages. For those that don’t, a disjointed experience for customers—and a lack of full context for support reps—is inevitable. Even companies that have a unified inbox often struggle when customers call in, since phone conversations can be more complex to add to your CRM in a digestible way.
However, pulling all your communication channels under one roof for support reps only lays the foundation for an omnichannel experience—it doesn’t complete it. There are three more elements to keep in mind from a communication perspective:
- Encourage customers to use any channel: Recognize that customers will contact you however they want to, and they’ll be frustrated if their preferred channel isn’t available. Get ahead of this reality. Make it clear that you’ll be there to serve customers fully through all the channels you support. By adding a comprehensive knowledge base on the front end and a unified inbox on the back end, you’ll be able to make this offer without overburdening your team.
- Create comparable cross-channel experiences: Whether customers call, text, email—or whether they try to take action in your mobile app or web app—the experience needs to be similarly easy.
- Let customers jump between channels without losing context: Customers should be able to start a conversation via social media DMs, continue it via live chat on your website, and follow up via email. If they call in, your reps should have all of that context easily at hand. To maintain context across multiple channels and repeated interactions over time, you’ll need to store comprehensive records in your CRM.
What Are The Benefits Of An Omnichannel Mobile Strategy?
As you’ve seen, there’s a lot required of companies attempting to implement an omnichannel strategy. Even some of the biggest companies don’t get it quite right.
But whether you’re a big or small brand, figuring out your omnichannel mobile strategy is urgent.
Here’s why: 66% of customers who switch brands do so due to poor service. Most of that service-related churn is preventable, particularly if you can manage to solve customers’ issues on their first support interaction. But that’s hard to do without good mobile support: millennials and Gen Z prefer communicating via chat or texting over any other method, according to a 2021 Qualtrics study.
Until you nail your mobile support, it’ll be hard to improve your service and therefore, your retention. But once you get everything into place, you can expect:
- Greater customer engagement:
- Continuous access to the full version of your product means more interactions.
- Contextual push notifications give users a reason to return.
- Improved customer experience:
- Availability to customers on the channels they prefer improves overall CX.
- Seamless hand-off between channels reduces customer frustration.
- Enhanced sales and support:
- Tailored mobile marketing and offers increases revenue.
- Mobile access to support, knowledge base, and self-service reduces the customer support burden.
Crafting A SaaS Omnichannel Mobile Strategy
As a big fan of Calendly, the scheduling app, it pains me to say this—but their mobile app provides some lessons on how not to do omnichannel mobile:
- The mobile experience is a simplified version of the web app’s functionality. Many features are missing, and there is no access to billing or account changes from the app.
- Mobile app users have to transfer to the mobile website for customer support.
- Live chat isn’t available on mobile, and it’s hard to find on the website.
There’s no way to upgrade to a higher Calendly plan, or do anything billing or account related, via the mobile app.
To go in a more omnichannel-friendly direction, focus your efforts on across two areas: sales and support.
Omnichannel for SaaS Sales
Many SaaS businesses operate on a freemium or paid trial model, which means they need to convert customers twice: once to sign up, and a second time to pull out their wallet and upgrade.
This process gets easier once you incorporate mobile. Omnisend found that omnichannel marketing campaigns with push messages had a 614% higher order rate than single-channel campaigns; meanwhile, campaigns that made use of SMS were 429% more likely to end in conversion.
The bulk of your initial efforts should go towards avoiding churn by designing digital omnichannel experiences that help free and trial users get value fast, whether on mobile or web. Balance time-to-value with your upsell efforts by keeping your premium features available to see for free users. When users click on them, they understand what they’re missing and are presented with a nudge to upgrade.
At the same time, you’ll want to craft onboarding and follow-up sequences that make use of all the channels at your disposal—web and mobile—and nudge customers toward the action you want them to take.
All information gained from customers as a result of these efforts should flow into a central CRM for sales reps’ easy reference, as should any lead capture forms, live chat sessions, and customer behavior data.
Omnichannel for SaaS Support
In a perfect world, here’s what omnichannel SaaS support would look like:
Customers aren’t transferred to multiple reps or, if they are, they aren’t required to repeat themselves. Each time they contact your brand, customers are greeted with full context and awareness of who they are and of their history of interactions. And—crucially—customers are able to achieve these benefits no matter what channel they reach out on, with features like in-app live chat and a comprehensive knowledge base making the process easy on mobile.
For some brands, this might feel aspirational. But it’s not only possible, it’s necessary: 63% of US adults use mobile devices for customer support at least a few times per month. Meanwhile, 67% of customers would prefer to self-service using your website or app’s knowledge base rather than speaking with a customer rep.
To manage all of this, the key tools you’ll want to have in place are live chat (in-app, ideally) and a unified inbox. This becomes even more important when you consider that 67% of consumers have used a brand’s social media channels for customer support and 42% expect to be able to reach you via live chat.
3 Examples Of SaaS Companies That Do Omnichannel Mobile Well
When I book Airbnbs, I’m almost always at my computer. It’s easier to do research on a bigger screen. But when I’m looking up directions or checking in, I’m on mobile 100% of the time.
Recognizing that this natural dynamic exists in their customer experience, Airbnb has built an impressive omnichannel customer support machine. Check in messages arrive via your email, mobile app, and SMS. Customer support issues can be initiated on any one of those channels and followed up on any of the other channels, thanks to a unified inbox on the part of Airbnb support. And, as much as I like getting support from real humans, Airbnb’s first line of support is a competent chatbot that even helps deal with booking issues and start the process of reimbursement claims.
Meanwhile, Airbnb uses the mobile experience to good effect for its hosts, too. Push notifications help hosts respond to inquiries three times faster, which also results in a better experience for customers.
Rappi is a Latin American super app with over 30 million active monthly users, focusing on food, grocery, and pharmacy delivery. Like most food delivery companies, Rappi is mobile-first, though it does offer a web app with the same functionality as the mobile app.
Rappi does an impeccable job of handling customer support issues directly via mobile chat, including issuing refunds and navigating disputes. A few months back, I ordered three pizzas— but when Rappi arrived, one of them was missing. With a quick in-app chat to a support rep, I was able to explain the situation and get assurance that I would be credited back instantly for the undelivered pepperoni pie.
Firstbase, a SaaS focusing on business incorporation, is strong on the sales side of the omnichannel mobile experience.
After starting a live chat on their website, I was funneled to a bot which asked me questions and suggested relevant knowledge base articles. After requesting a live sales rep, the bot connected me to a human in under 60 seconds.
This kind of sales conversation flow is nothing new, but there are still plenty of companies that don’t do the basics. It’s exactly how B2B SaaS companies should be thinking about live chat: a chatbot that offers knowledge base articles for the many customers who prefer to self-service, while still making it easy to reach a human fast.
Mobile + Omnichannel = SaaS Success
A 2022 survey found 54% of customers would stop using a brand after just one bad experience.
That’s disheartening. But for SaaS companies working on their omnichannel presence, it should also be motivating. As a customer, when a SaaS brand takes the time to consider the user experience from my point of view—and makes it easy for me to buy or get support in a way that works for me—it’s one step closer to creating a fan for life.
As you develop your omnichannel mobile strategy, your end goal isn’t only to stop customers from churning; it’s to create thousands of small moments of customer delight driven by the ease of your experience, each of which adds up to more engaged customers, greater retention, and a more resilient business that customers love.
Omnichannel initiatives are just the start. Ready for more customer experience insights designed with SaaS leaders in mind? By subscribing to our newsletter, you’ll get the latest CX tips sent right to your inbox.