Customers making contact expect a company to wrap together all forms of communication from traditional to social. A truly omnichannel solution allows customers to easily continue receiving assistance when they cross channels and simultaneously provides context to live agents.1
In the retail space, omnichannel is defined as a seamless shopping experience from the store to e-commerce. In the contact center industry, omnichannel is a seamless experience from one support channel to the next. Before reaching out to customer service, 56% of U.S. adults will have already searched online help and forum channels.2 By the time they connect with a contact center, customers expect the care representative to understand what steps they have already taken. They also expect human ability to solve their challenges better than a machine or online community; otherwise, they wouldn’t be calling to begin with.
Consider your smartphone. It remembers previous searches and builds a profile for you, pushing relevant content based on your history. Customers expect the same sort of history to be available at the contact center. They want to be recognized, not caught in the cycle of repeating themselves only to learn that the frontline agent either cannot solve the issue better than the app could, or worse, doesn’t possess the baseline capabilities the app does. It’s crucial to have a solution that brings it all together in a meaningful way that doesn’t add significant length to the interaction.
Many companies are making heavy investments in customer-facing digital technology, but oftentimes, integration with the contact center software is overlooked, resulting in a multichannel solution that doesn’t allow for the seamless experience of true omnichannel excellence. In many cases, multiple systems are still required to achieve one result. Without proper redesign and integration, what’s left is a solution that causes more harm than good, leaving the burden on the call center agent to resolve a complicated case.
As you create a list of what is important to you in an omnichannel tool, look at your existing infrastructure to determine if you’re ready for the leap. Ask yourself the following three questions to best position yourself for success.
1. System consolidation:
How many front-end and back-end systems are contact center agents currently using to research customer accounts and case history?
If the answer is more than one, it’s a good idea to consolidate the existing systems prior to integrating with digital technology. Multiple systems lead to increased customer effort and longer resolution times. Remember, the more history the front line is armed with, the more intuitive and streamlined a CRM system should be for an exceptional customer experience.
2. Multichannel platform integration:
Does your CRM platform interface well with web-based technology, and are you capturing the customer touchpoints at the self-service stage?
If the answer is no, either prioritize a facelift of the existing system or consider using a system integrator to bring the various channels together. When customers begin interacting via app, web, social media, and AI, the details of these touches must push to the front line for a cohesive experience and customer response. With important customer journey details in one platform, you can arm your care team with the necessary history for a truly robust and empowered customer experience.
3. Employee experience considerations:
Now that your most basic contacts are handled automatically, what is your strategy and budget for enhancing the more complex task skills of your front-line agents?
- As employee expectations become more complex, training investments will be critical to ongoing success. Consider what concepts, such as routine system changes, can be easily adopted through online content delivery. While even the best Learning Management System will not replace the need for facilitator-led content, moving simple content to employee self-service can certainly augment the facilitator efforts. This leaves time and space for more in-depth strategy and procedural changes to be delivered live in a classroom environment.
- As you pave the way for front-line employees to take on additional responsibilities, make sure your compensation and efficiency expectations align with the skill set required. The new call types will require additional expertise and research time, especially tasks previously handled by a Tier 2 agent. As skill requirements gain complexity, you will invest in agents’ knowledge and adjust compensation to align accordingly with the heightened expectations and to prevent employee pool burnout. This will also ensure you are attracting the right level of talent for the job. With self-service channels resulting in reduced contact volume, the funding to provide necessary compensation adjustments should be readily available.
With awareness and attention to these crucial details for a seamless integration, you can confidently forge onward in your quest for automation. Developing a framework to address these three critical areas will help you avoid common pitfalls, leading to true omnichannel leadership.
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- 1. “Omni-channel experiences,” Aspect, https://www.aspect.com/solutions/call-center/omni-channel-experiences.
- 2. Leggett, Kate, “Your Customers Don’t Want to Call You for Support,” Forrester, March 4, 2016, https://go.forrester.com/blogs/16-03-03-your_customers_dont_want_to_call_you_for_support.