What is true omnichannel?
A true omnichannel contact center is hard to come by these days. Yes, some have multiple channels, and they may even contextualize customer interactions using historical data points gathered from those channels. But do they do both?
Smart brands know that engaging with customers means staying up to date on the latest and greatest trends in communication. Adding more communication channels is step number one for shaping the modern contact center, but it doesn’t stop there. 62% of contact center leaders state their biggest challenge to evolving is managing the integration with their existing systems. When new channels are added as stand-alone applications they become even harder to tie together.
There are many cloud contact center platforms that bundle service channels like phone, text messaging, email, and webchat. But they stop short of offering the full picture. Integrating the kind of intelligent routing, data analytics, and workforce optimization with those channels of choice is true omnichannel.
True omnichannel is unified and panoramic. It’s defined by three main criteria:
- It delivers all the communication channels customers want to access on their mobile device
- It gives the agent the ability to track and learn from customer interactions
- It incorporates those insights into actionable improvements for the contact center
True omnichannel ties these threads together. In doing so, the contact center can continually improve the customer journey by offering personalized experiences in real-time.
So how do you expand beyond traditional outreach methods like voice and create a true omnichannel contact center? In this post, we define what is omnichannel and what is not. And what you need to get there.
For more tips on getting true omnichannel, read our 5-point tip sheet.
Offering more than one communication channel is just table stakes these days for contact centers. While voice still remains a necessary component to issue escalation, many customers start their journeys on self-initiated digital channels.
Closing the cross-channel gap is the biggest hurdle to attaining true omnichannel in contact centers today. According to Deloitte’s 2019 Contact Center Survey Report, only 11% of respondents said their customer experience is identical across channels. Compare that with the whopping 54% that reported they are diligently working to close the gap as the experience is different across channels and the problem becomes clearer.
Because customer contact history remains in silos with often fragmented channel-specific operation centers, customer interactions are fractured as a result. But that’s only half of the problem. From a cost perspective silos are expensive. Really expensive. For example, if one department handles web chat and the other manages email it’s difficult to collectively report on the performance of both departments. This translates into duplicated efforts, with each department reporting on the same metrics. As the Harvard Business Review noted in 2016, the biggest problem isn’t collecting data, it’s getting access to it. Connecting departments equates to serious time and cost savings that can positively impact the bottom line, freeing up more time to engage with customers and focus on providing a connected customer experience.
Dividing people from process and technology is a practice from a bygone era. In today’s hyperconnected world operating in isolation causes problems. Drive a better experience and make better decisions with an all-in-one platform that aligns consumer demand with operational efficacy. The true omnichannel contact center has these four things:
- Create a unified multichannel experience.
Marrying web chat, text, email, and voice in one fell swoop gives customers the options they demand. 95% of consumers use a mobile device so giving them the ability to connect with your brand in any way they’re comfortable increases the likelihood they’ll return. In fact, 79% of people say they’re more likely to visit a website just because it offers digital or self-service options! With stats like these, it’s hard to ignore the fact that customers not only enjoy using webchat, they’ve come to expect it.
- Improve front office/back office communication flows.
Many contact centers overlook the key role that customer service processes play in gathering essential information streams for the rest of the business. The Livevox [U]Series provides the connective tissue for both front and back-office operations with an integrated ticketing system that makes it easy for agents to track the status of an issue across every stage and department no matter what channel the issue was raised on.
- Respond to consumer behavior and create personalized experiences.
Each new channel and application addition magnifies the challenge of maintaining a unified experience for both customers and the agents that service them. At the root of the problem is disconnected data. The interaction that occurs between a customer on an email string may not be accessible to the agent when speaking with the same customer. This disconnect also makes for redundant interactions that require customers to rehash the same issue over and over. A true omnichannel solution with a Universal Customer Profile lets an individual’s contextual information follow them from channel to channel.
- Improve NPS scores.
The NPS Score, or Net Promoter Score, is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the likelihood of a customer to recommend a company or service. Conventional wisdom and practical experience from our own lives show that loyal, happy customers who are able to resolve issues quickly with minimal hurdles are the ones willing to make recommendations.
The inability to see across all channels makes it virtually impossible to manage and drive multichannel performance, and most importantly, multichannel ROI. With a true omnichannel platform you ensure you’re delivering a universal experience across all touchpoints by unifying customer data through a single pane of glass.
The omnichannel customer experience
Now that we’ve covered the features that define omnichannel customer service, let’s take a look at what it means from the customer’s perspective by putting yourself in their shoes.
Let’s say you’re the customer, and you’re on vacation. Those poolside pina coladas are really doing the trick, and bills are the farthest thing from your mind. But all of a sudden, ding! You get an SMS alert that your mortgage payment is due. Good thing, because it would have completely slipped your mind. You tap a convenient link in the text message and submit your payment in a few swipes.
That alert got you thinking–there’s enough money in your checking account to cover the mortgage and that fancy dinner you had planned for tonight, right? Best to double-check. You call your bank’s 800 number and within a few seconds of uttering the words “check my balance,” you’ve received reassurance that ordering the filet mignon won’t result in an overdraft fee. Phew.
Everything is smooth sailing until you head to the bar for another round. The bartender comes over with a weird expression and you instantly know something’s wrong. Your card has been declined. Arg! It’s probably because you’re in another country. You really need to make sure your funds aren’t locked up, but the last thing you want to do is sit on hold waiting for an agent to help you.
That’s when you remember your bank’s website offers live chat. You hop on and within seconds, you’re chatting with an agent, who can see you just placed a call to check your balance. They look into the declined card issue while you make your way back to your lounge chair, and by the time you get there your card is unlocked. That was easy.
Three issues, three different communication channels selected by the customer, one smooth experience that didn’t interrupt a vacation. Good thing your bank has omnichannel customer service, right?
Omnichannel experiences go beyond simply being available on all channels. Instead, the goal is to provide an experience that supersedes the channel, so that the platform the customer chooses is irrelevant to receiving the same great, uninterrupted service.
The benefits of omnichannel customer service
Hopefully, it’s pretty clear how providing omnichannel customer service positively impacts the customer experience. But that’s far from the only benefit.
Reduced Inbound Call Volume
For most companies, voice support is the most expensive customer service channel to provide. Offering alternative options helps deflect incoming call volume and increases the number of self-service resolutions, which results in lower overall costs.
Improved Customer Retention
An omnichannel strategy enables you to respond to customers faster and more effectively. This means that when they run into an issue that could compromise their business, agents are able to meet them on the channel they turn to first and avoid further frustrations, improving your chances of retaining them.
Ability To Reach A Wider Audience
Younger customers don’t think twice about contacting a company via social media, while older customers might feel more comfortable with getting answers from a live person on the phone. Busy parents might find text messaging to be the most convenient option, while professionals who are tied to their desks all day might prefer to correspond via email. Offering seamless service on all channels–and between them–helps you reach a wider audience and avoid getting boxed in by the type of support you provide.
Greater Customer Lifetime Value
Omnichannel marketing gives you the opportunity to have more touchpoints with customers, on the platforms they’re most likely to engage with. This boosts conversions and over the life of the customer relationship, leading to greater value and in turn, stronger revenue.