‘Omni channel interaction’ is the new buzzword going around customer contact centers, but although serious business owners know they should be implementing it, there are still many who haven’t quite got it right, and they could be losing valuable customers because of it. Worse still, some businesses claim to offer omni channel interactions without really understanding what they are.
Omni channel does not mean every channel
Some business owners mistakenly believe that an omni channel contact center is one that has a presence on every channel possible. This can be very damaging for a business because valuable resources are taken away from critical business operations and used for setting up and running channels that no-one – neither employee nor customer – particularly wants or needs. For example, if you run a law firm, you probably don’t need an Instagram profile!
A real omni channel interaction is one where a customer seamlessly switches between multiple agents and self-service checkpoints, using various different channels, without having to repeat information. In fact, it is really the company that is omnipresent behind all of the channels they are using to reach out to their customers.
Mobile devices and multi-channel capability
As technology converges, applications become more sophisticated and networks provide faster and more reliable connections, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are becoming powerful tools for interacting with businesses. Customers can now contact businesses by phone, SMS message, social media comment, live chat platform and more.
Businesses have to be ready to respond to the customer’s preferred mode of communication and pick up the conversation from where it was left the last time.
The continuous conversation
To provide a true omni channel experience, business owners need to think beyond channels and focus on keeping that customer-company conversation going whatever happens. This requires deep integration between all departments so that relevant data is stored and shared, available instantly so that the customer’s question can be understood within the overall context of their journey. Not only will that prevent the frustration of having to start from square one in each interaction, it will also make it easier for agents to spot an opportunity to up-sell or cross-sell.
Empowering customer service agents
Of course, the data is only one half the story; the customer service agent also has to be able to quickly understand and analyze that data to rebuild the context. They also should be as empowered as possible to help prevent multiple calls to various departments about the same issue – frustrating for the customer and inefficient for the business.
By looking at customer feedback and surveys, common issues can be identified and, where possible, self-service tools (for example FAQs or Knowledge Base articles) created. This should cut down on inbound calls and help give agents more time with those customers who do have complex questions.
Ultimately, the omni channel contact center is one which is always there for the customer providing an efficient, consistent service no matter when, how or why they choose to access it.