GETTING OMNICHANNEL RIGHT
FROM MULTICHANNEL TO OMNICHANNEL
Without a single platform or customer interaction hub, the complexity of handling multiple channels increases greatly each time a new channel, device or medium is added to the customer service mix. The only constant is that – regardless of the method they choose to communicate with the business – customers want accurate, timely information delivered in a form with which they are happy. The challenges for the business are to provide a high quality of service which is consistent across the channels and to do so in a cost-effective manner. To do this, and break down the boundaries between contact channels that has been stifling the potential of non-telephony contact, a platform is required which automatically captures, processes, routes, and reports on customer interactions and related activities based on a company’s specific business criteria, providing a view of each and every customer interaction. Customer interactions through channels such as voice, e-mail, fax, instant messaging and activities such as work items must be handled according to business-defined processes and strategies, avoiding the problem of rogue interactions that are left outside normal workflows, or favoring one channel (often, voice) to the permanent detriment of others.
The universal queue approach – which has been around for many years – can set priority levels to incoming calls, e-mails, and chats, and offers the functionality to blend inbound and outbound calls into a single queue to allow agents to move between media as required. This approach also facilitates a single view of the customer across all channels, which is one of the key ways to improve the quality of service offered, as well as improving the agent’s confidence and morale.
Such is the theory. The reality for most businesses is that the requirements of their customer base, along with the opportunity to cut service costs have thrust numerous new channels into the customer service mix, leaving them with the headache of deciding how to implement and integrate new technology, recruit and train agents appropriately, and forecast and schedule the right staff to handle these new types of interaction. The easiest and quickest option has been to treat each channel separately, having agent silos and treating each interaction as being independent rather than part of a wider customer journey. If the customer changes a channel or contacts the business later about the same issue, they tend to have to start again from the beginning.
The “omni” element to omnichannel (meaning “all”) can be understood as reflecting the customer’s experience of interacting with the business: to them, an organization’s separate internal workflow and siloed systems are not just irrelevant, they are unseen. Omnichannel requires the breaking down of boundaries, not only between channels but also the ownership and management of the various relevant business processes and departments affected by customer interactions. This is why successful omnichannel implementations will require a senior management sponsor, with the authority and remit to make changes in any and all appropriate business units.
It is important to realize that omnichannel is not simply about implementing the right technology. While omnichannel obviously involves supporting multiple channels consistently along the customer journey, it is vital to understand and create the business process workflows that occur within each interaction type, not simply across customer service channels, but also reaching into the back office, financial and order management systems, the distribution process and any other business activity that is affected by the initial customer contact.
‘Consistency’ is a concept that should be at the forefront of any discussion of omnichannel, as it is perhaps the key to a successful customer interaction, and applies to many of the elements within this strategy:
- Look-and-feel / branding across channels
- Unified knowledge base, both for the self-service and live agent environment
- Consistent pricing and stock levels available across all channels
- Single customer history, including the current customer journey and context of where they have been, updated across channels in real-time. This is particularly important at the boundary between self-service and live agent interaction: currently, the context and experience of the customer is usually lost once the move into the live agent environment – breaking down this boundary is vital to a successful omnichannel experience
- The functionality offered should be consistent where possible: for example, while it is not suitable to fill in a loan application on public social media, it is possible to carry out a web chat about a specific question on the loan application form while on the
About Evolve IP’s Contact Center: Your contact center is the lifeblood of your enterprise, so anything that you can do to improve agent results and customer experience is a major win for your business. Evolve IP’s Gartner recognized omnichannel contact center provides all of the features you need to run a world-class omnichannel contact center.
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