It’s 2017. Happy New Year!
2016 was a definitional year for, “What is omni-channel compared to multi-channel?” Quite simply: multi-channel means using more than one channel to achieve the same goals and omni-channel means using any number of channels, in any sequence, with consistent, continued customer journeys facilitated by context across all channels. There is a big difference. Multi-channel forces customers to start over each time a different channel is used. Companies will continue to use both terms, but those working to normalize channels, journeys, and actions will achieve the best results for their customer experience and business outcomes.
Throughout 2016, VHT facilitated many such discussions via webinars, trade shows, and direct customer interactions. Overall, a majority of the 97% of enterprises without an implemented and successful omni-channel strategy are aware of the opportunity, the challenge it brings for successful implementation, and the need to pick a path: build or buy.
Should you consider building or buying what is needed to implement today’s expected, standard functionality to remain competitive in the marketplace and relevant to your customers? Beware the quick answer: there is a lot to consider.
Every company has an interest and need to make changes. “When this occurs, or the opportunity exists,” and “Do this set of actions as a result.” Dashboards and reports are expected tools to enable continual results optimization. Managing goals of enhancing customer experience and achieving desired, positive outcomes – two net gains for the business – as one process is extremely intriguing to contact center, IT, and marketing teams. No company wants to be limited to silo solutions within their channels or systems.
And, in today’s highly-competitive and fast-changing environment, speed to change is driven by ability to recognize moments of opportunity and ability to execute change.
Let’s break that down: “speed to change” is the key to gaining new customers when the opportunity is right, proactively servicing customers in both self-service and assisted-service channels by seeing the need and sharing the context across channels, and in retaining customers by seeing when problems are building and reacting when they exist in the best possible manner. If speed does not exist for any of these business needs, it is much harder to succeed.
“Ability to recognize moments of opportunity” refers to capturing events from all relevant channels and systems in your marketing, customer care, and supporting environments. Calls into the contact center, scheduled callbacks from the website, direct interaction in a branch location, ATM transactions, service via kiosks, mobile application usage, CRM workflow triggers, and many other direct and indirect actions can be interpreted as events. These events should be sent to a centralized solution built for the express purpose of analyzing for next best action (NBA) or next best offer (NBO), which leads to the final component of the speed to change equation above:
“Ability to execute change” means ACTION. Action must be taken at the right time, in the right channel(s) or system(s) with an orchestrated process focused on enhancing customer experience and achieving desired outcomes.
All of this must take place in an easy-to-manage process with a unified user interface. It is not realistic to build solutions that continue to distance business users from making the changes. Build versus buy consideration point: Make this a win-win scenario where IT can empower all business unit consumers to make the changes they need with the “safety” IT is accountable to deliver.
In summary, the equation for success is, quite simply: Speed to change = Recognition of moment of opportunity + Take action with ease of user interface
With that in mind, careful consideration of build versus buy approaches can be evaluated more discretely with regards to ability to truly succeed, and to appreciate the aspects of “on time” and “on budget.” With enough time and money, anything can be done; but, with limited time and money, careful deliberation must take place.
Breaking down the speed to change equation to its core components, we can first discuss recognition of moment of opportunity. Sales. Retention. CX enhancement. Increased self-service. Whatever the business objective, the need to see the moment of opportunity is the most important element: without it, there is much less opportunity to navigate to positive outcomes. Instead, the process is minimized to points of obvious reaction (e.g. a customer clicking “cancel account” is an obvious reaction; comparing plans, contract due to expire in X days are moments of opportunity). Build versus buy consideration point: Does the solution have the ability to send ALL pertinent events to a centralized point for analysis to determine moments of opportunity?
Next, we have “take action with ease of user interface.” This component requires careful consideration due to the multitude of action options across systems and channels, the work it may typically take to integrate across platforms to take such actions, and, last but certainly not least, the need for a simplified, consolidated user interface built to empower business users to make needed changes quickly and quality-assured. In other words, the solution must allow IT to expose controlled change ability to business users by building the interconnections behind the scenes and leveraging the user interface to selectively expose what may changed and by whom. Build versus buy consideration point: Does the solution have a repeatable approach to integration and action instrumentation across any channel or system, from any technology vendor or proprietary development, and does it have a single user interface with controls for business users to execute changes? And, don’t forget about CX: you may have the ability to trigger the right workflows and update the CRM, but are you giving the customer what they need, from their perception, at the right points in time?
Many enterprises have instrumented open source libraries or complete solutions to deliver omni-channel solutions with context across channels and systems. Others have purchased vendor-specific technologies intended to deliver the desired functionality. At VHT, we appreciate these investments and propose, whether building or buying, to continue to leverage existing investments and to normalize each event and action at every opportunity. Ultimately, empowering the business teams to make the changes they need to achieve desired outcomes and enhance CX is key.
Building a solution with all the considerations above is absolutely something that most companies can do. However, as pointed out at the beginning of this post, only 3% of enterprises have successfully done so, to date. This is due to resources, existing project workloads, multiple business units needing to accommodate, lack of centralized capability to overlay existing investments and technologies, and the need for centralizing the user interface across many platform capabilities.
Buying a productized, repeatable solution for achievement of speed to change success has value compared to exclusively building. In fact, we see customers implementing either a complete buy solution, with all the platform capabilities needed to deliver solutions focused on enhanced CX and achievement of desired outcomes, or a hybrid of already-built solution elements bolted onto buy approaches.
Specific thoughts to consider:
- How fast can you build and continue to build? Can your customers wait?
- Do you have the expertise or focus?
- Have you been successful at building before, and can you continue to be successful?
- How are you capturing and storing data?
- How do data events trigger actions across your channels and systems?
- Do you have the ability to take actions, or just store the data?
- What user interface do you have in order to make changes quickly?
- Do you have integrated reporting and dashboards to indicate success?
- Do you have a firm estimate on the level of effort required to build versus buy?
Lastly, if you are exploring the path to buy versus build, or to establish the hybrid of both, as mentioned above, VHT Navigator is a solution to consider for all of your omni-channel CX, customer care, and marketing needs with the following considerations:
- Enable your IT teams to achieve success with ever-growing omni-channel and Internet of Things applications by using Navigator as an overlaying solution to all existing channel and system resources
- Extend control to business users via an easy-to-use, consolidated user interface
- Rely on repeatable, proven deployment methodology to implement initial use cases and interconnections to channels/systems
- Utilize Navigator’s perpetually evolving roadmap with a focus on customer experience enhancement and achieving desired business outcomes
- Dedicated team of product management, engineers, quality assurance, user interface design, and field subject matter expertise to continually identify and instrument innovation
- Highly-scalable: start with only three VMs/servers and add more as needed
- Direct, 24/7 product support
- Future-proof solution: any number of channels/systems as your environment changes
- Hosted or premise-based deployment options
- Proof of concept in the cloud for initial use case(s)
- Navigator does three major things to deliver the solutions you need: capture events, analyze for action, and navigate to desired outcomes (CAN), all through a simplified user interface