The contact center has been continuously evolving since its inception more than 50 years ago. While technology has advanced tremendously, one thing has remained constant – customers’ expectations for quality service. Today, that means providing a seamless customer experience across multiple digital and voice channels. To make this happen, contact centers must move beyond multi-channel service to an omnichannel approach which requires new system capabilities, as well as a commitment to offering this more robust level of customer experience.
Omnichannel Customer Experience in Action
An omnichannel customer experience requires gathering context and information across all engagement channels throughout the entire customer journey for the purpose of increasing sales, customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. The key drivers for this level of service are customer demand and technologies, such as social media, smartphones, and mobile apps. Consider that a customer might look at a product on a web page and then ask a question about the product over web chat. Next, he or she may call the customer service voice line to obtain additional help while reading information about the company on their Facebook page. With omnichannel capabilities, a contact center agent can view each interaction from the first website visit to ongoing engagement on social media channels. This enables the agent to provide a more seamless, personalized experience based on the context and information throughout every step of the customer journey.
The Challenge of Making the Shift
For many companies, service is now their key differentiator. It takes more than just a quality product and fair pricing. Customers want to start their journeys on once channel and complete it on another. Sometimes, they even want to use several channels simultaneously. They also want personalized, hassle-free interactions regardless of the channel they choose. Although most companies identify the need for delivering an omnichannel customer experience, far fewer have achieved it. Developing omnichannel capabilities is no simple task. Most contact centers do not have the infrastructure to provide contextual transfers from mobile, SMS messages, social media and other digital channels. Some try to work around this limitation by relying on their CRM solution. However, CRM solutions are not designed to incorporate voice interactions or information provided by the customer on an IVR.
Multiple Solutions for Delivering an Omnichannel Customer Experience
Yet, there are solutions to gain omnichannel capabilities, and companies have a variety of choices available. There is the option of working with an existing infrastructure vendor to embed specialized components. Companies can also bring in outside consultants or use their own IT team to do customized integrations. However, both of these options can be costly, time-consuming, and even negatively impact SLAs.
However, there is an alternative way to develop the necessary omnichannel capabilities needed to stay competitive. VHT offers an over-the-top technology that integrates with existing infrastructure and doesn’t require a rip and replace approach.
An Omnichannel Roadmap
Every company that is considering making the move to omnichannel needs to start with closely evaluating service-related goals, budget and timeframes. From there, an omnichannel roadmap can be created to guide the way. It will be important to carefully review digital engagement to identify and correct any processes or systems that don’t support new goals and objectives. Channels and touchpoints also need to be connected to support an omnichannel experience which requires breaking down channel silos. Self-service is also a vital part of an omnichannel customer experience. Thus, it’s necessary to evaluate how and why customers are using self-service to develop new strategies to support their needs. This includes ensuring there is seamless integration between self-service and assisted-service.
Supporting Employee Success
Making the transition to omnichannel requires agents to have a wider set of skills and tools, including a unified desktop to view every interaction. This entails making a culture shift, as well as providing training on how to use new tools and applications that compile content and context. Along with agents, the entire company, including executives and management, needs to be fully committed and aligned with omnichannel goals and objectives.
The reality is that there has been an explosion of digital channels in recent years. Customers naturally expect a consistent experience across all of them. Companies that are able to meet their customer expectations of omnichannel service will be better positioned to sustain competitiveness. Those that continue to struggle with disparate channels will find that this level of service will become increasingly unacceptable in the eyes of their customers. In other words, making the omnichannel is not just a good idea, it’s an essential strategy for remaining viable in today’s competitive marketplace.