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Omnichannel is a buzzword that has been used so often over the last two decades that its existence is taken for granted by customers and its meaning has been obscured by brands. By 2022 it’s second nature for businesses to offer multiple channels—SMS, email, and web— alongside self-service and even a charming chatbot.
Omnichannel was a directive concerned with the addition of channels. Multiexperience is one focused on the connection of those channels. But, what is the meaning of multiexperience and how will you know when you have it?
In this 2021 Gartner® research paper, analysts proposed a vital shift in thinking when it comes to offering great CX that conceptualizes a new way to address digital channels and interaction modalities. The special report is available in full and summarized below.
The omnichannel landscape as it is
As a response to continuing customer demand for more and better access to the web and digital touchpoints, customer service leaders have added channels piecemeal in a rush to satisfy these needs and quell high inbound volume without realizing the aggregate impact on their overall user and customer experiences.
Without realizing it, customer service leaders have been creating their own obstacles to greater and more precise personalization, self-service, and automation.
The result has been mushrooming of data barriers produced by the lack of channel relation and seamless application connections.
Business leaders now find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to remediating these challenges because typical omnichannel platforms require costly integration projects to properly link everything needed for the mutliexperience.
They also find themselves without a source of truth for all customer interactions and information. On top of that, traditional omnichannel thinking also fails to account for a key component of CX: the agent experience.
Because we now conduct business across so many touchpoints and in a combination of so many mediums, be it in person, online, over the phone, or on a mobile device, Gartner® says omnichannel thinking needs to be expanded beyond simple channel offerings. After all, what is a channel these days? Our customers come to us with the same assumptions about their experience regardless of where it takes place: they want transactions to be smooth, simple, seamless.
According to Gartner®, this means CX leaders need to reinvent customer support strategies from the inside out by going beyond channels and getting the integrations and infrastructure in place that creates a standardized experience no matter the channel.
The multiexperience landscape as it could be
First, what exactly is a multiexperience landscape? According to Gartner®, multiexperience refers to the various permutations of modalities (e.g., touch, voice, and gesture), devices, and apps that customers interact with on their digital journey across the various touchpoints with a company.
If omnichannel was about orchestrating stand-alone interactions on a channel-to-channel basis each with its own set of customs, best practices, and anticipations, then multiexperience is about blurring the lines of “channel thinking “ by asking ‘what is a channel?’ in an effort to synchronize all modes of interacting with the customer so that every moment is consistent.
CRM is the glue that binds channels to choice in a multiexperience model
Gartner® predicts that successful multiexperience companies will build and examine all aspects of their business and operations through the eyes of the customer. They’ll go through the hard work of breaking down their own siloes and ensuring that the customer can move through their journey online and in-person without friction or frustration. The first step in doing this is finding the right CRM.
The internal disconnect between channels, agents, tools, and customer experiences is too often perpetuated by outdated technology stacks. The CRM system should ideally be the technological link between each function in an omnichannel model, but it often only makes the situation worse by reinforcing siloed thinking.
Focusing on how your CRM can act as a unifying tool that breaks down silos across touchpoints will set up the groundwork of multiexperience unity and create the potential for a more refined treatment of the customer via mechanisms that integrate information across systems, modalities, and touchpoints.
Multiexperience starts with a shift in investment focus
Here are some examples Gartner® recommends investing more time and energy into when defining a multiexperience strategy:
■ Encourage self-service. Your customers shouldn’t have to call you. Make it easy to find solutions on your website via a knowledge base, a chatbot, an FAQ page, or an intelligent IVR that doesn’t always lead to the need for escalation and agent intervention.
■ Swap first-time resolution with issue avoidance. in the multiepxerience model, the best customer interaction is none at all because you’re so easy to work with they’re empowered to answer questions and find resolutions on their own. Encourage agents to proactively send SMS and email follow-ups that include promotions tailored by previous behaviors or interactions.
■ Focus on agent EQ. Teach agents how to actively manage customer interactions with psychological and behavioral practices when issues are escalated to them. Deploy EQ-like practices with AI-driven self-service through remotely guided assistance or in-app prompts to mimic the human element when customers resolve issues themselves.
■ Prioritize quality over efficiency. Give agents more control over how to handle ad hoc
interactions. Move away from time-constraining metrics like average handle time by applying multiexperience design principles to the tools agents use to reduce their effort in delivering a quality customer experience. Examples of multiexperience design include using voice commands and speech analytics for note-taking or call dispositioning instead of stopping and typing.
Moving from a channel-thinking mindset to a multiexperience one means expanding CX strategies from digital-only journeys to hybrid experiences that incorporate every avenue of transacting.
For a limited time, you can access the complimentary Gartner® research in full. Download the report in its entirety here.
Attribution & Disclaimers
Gartner®, Transcend Omnichannel Thinking and Embrace Multiexperience for Improved Customer Experience, Jason Wong, Don Scheibenreif, Gene Phifer, 28 June 2021.
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