In the past two years, customers have not only flocked to channels like Web chat, social media and online self-service, but their expectations for quality service across these channels have skyrocketed. Failing to provide customers with personalized, consistent service across digital channels and traditional voice, provokes customer frustration with negative consequences for business metrics such as retention and profitability. And just adding new channels for the sake of adding them is not sufficient. This has set the customer service industry abuzz with discussions of how to provide the holy grail of customer experience: that is the omnichannel experience.
But what is omnichannel? Omnichannel is simply multichannel done right. It includes:
- Viewing the multichannel experience through the eyes of your customer, so that it’s seamless, consistent and contextual.
- Anticipating that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution.
- Deploying the right technologies to make the transition between channels as convenient and enjoyable as possible.
The term omnichannel has now stood the test of hype to provide useful strategic insights. Omnichannel reminds us that adding new channels in a siloed manner simply will not do. Instead, channels must be added in an integrated manner. Contact centers must recognize a customer’s identity regardless of the channel they use. Interaction history from digital channels must be visible to phone agents. Failure to do so has negative consequences. For example, when a customer calls about the email they sent yesterday and the phone agent is unaware of the interaction, the result is customer frustration and increased service costs.
It’s possible to turn this into a positive situation by seamlessly blending Internet-based service requests into a universal contact routing engine. In this solution, agents have visibility into prior customer contacts across channels, supervisors have unified real-time and historical reporting tools, and all customer contacts are managed according to consistent business rules. The result is effective, personalized interactions that lead to long-term positive customer relationships.
Integration of information from back-end databases and CRM systems is also essential. With this data incorporated into routing decisions and displayed to the agent, customers receive the appropriate level of service regardless of channel.
The journey from multichannel to omnichannel has become increasingly imperative as technologies such as mobile services and social media place increased influence in the hands of the average consumer. Consumers possess powerful computing clout in their pockets with mobile smartphones. They expect to resolve service issues in their spare moments with instantaneous access to information. The results of these interactions – whether positive or negative – can be immediately broadcast over social media channels.
So what are you waiting for? Omnichannel is essential to keep customers happy. It’s no longer optional, and the tools are available. It’s time to move from siloed to integrated channels.
To learn more about how to create an omnichannel experience, check out our new eBook, Omnichannel Is No Longer Optional.