Companies that excel in engaging customers across channels—including web, mobile, social media and in-store—retain more than twice as many customers as companies without effective cross-channel customer care strategies, a new study says.

It pays to consistently communicate with customers across retail or business-to-business channels, Aberdeen Group Inc. says in a new study. It finds that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.

Key to the former group’s performance is regular training of customer service agents, effective management of customer data across channels, and finding out if and when customer miscommunications occur in one or more channels, Aberdeen, a unit of Harte-Hanks Inc., says in the report, “Omni-Channel Customer Care.” The study is based on a survey of 305 companies conducted in May and June.

Aberdeen identified 20% of study respondents, or 61, as “top performers,” or those with omnichannel customer engagement strategies that produced the following aggregate performance metrics as of June 2013:

Average 89% customer retention rate, compared with 33% for the other 80% of respondents;

Average 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared with 3.4%;


Average 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per customer contact, compared with 0.2%.

The study also finds that the top performers score higher than the other companies in several areas of managing customer communications across channels. Aberdeen reports the following practices of the 20% of study respondents identified as top-performers:

85% conduct regular training of customer care agents in the handling of omnichannel communications, compared with 66% among the other 80% of respondents;

77% store customer contact data across multiple channels, compared with 48%;


77% route customer inquiries to customer service agents with specific skills related to customers’ needs, compared with 42%;

69% identify topics repeatedly addressed by customers across channels to find where communications need to be improved in specific channels, compared with 42%.