Some organisations tend to think omnichannel means being available on as many channels as possible. But it’s the quality of engagement, not the quantity, that really counts.
Omnichannel is defined by an organisation’s ability to switch from one channel to another seamlessly, over the course of an individual customer journey.
A customer could start their interaction by WhatsApp, be contacted by an artificial intelligence (AI) enabled chatbot, before being dialed through to a human call agent. At each stage of the journey, information is passed down effortlessly – the customer never has to repeat themselves, ensuring they are carried speedily from problem to resolution.
This is the kind of experience that delights customers, builds loyalty and grows your business. Achieving it, however, requires some strategy. To be realised, omnichannel needs a foundation, and it’s a foundation that’s built on customer insight.
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Getting omnichannel right is a top priority. Customers have grown more demanding and they’ve never had more choice. If you can’t provide the support they need, then they can always go somewhere else.
Picture the scenario: after explaining their problem to a call agent, a customer is transferred to another agent with the required expertise but none of the context. To get anywhere they’ll have to explain their issue a second time. This is the antithesis of omnichannel, but it’s also an all-too-familiar experience for customers. Such a fragmented, impersonal journey only leads to frustration and a soured customer relationship.
The challenge is born out of a data dilemma. Contact centres gradually build up vast banks of customer data, but they’re often highly fragmented and siloed across several environments. Agents have limited ability to make use of it, and they certainly don’t have time to go looking!
The key to omnichannel is personalisation. To help a caller, you need to know who they are, what problems they face and how you’ve interacted with them in the past. What’s more, you need to know this no matter what channel they’re currently using.
This insight is available to you through the data you collect on customers, but only if it is easy to access. The first step in delivering omnichannel, therefore, is getting your data estate in order.
Integration is crucial. If you haven’t already migrated your assets to the cloud, now is the time. The cloud represents a secure, consolidated location for all of it. Migrating eliminates obstructing data silos and provides agents with a single source of truth for all interactions. Some might say “location, location, location” but it’s more than that, the data must be organised, clean and available too. This ensures the customer receives consistent, helpful advice rather than conflicting information from a range of sources using different data sets.
Organisations seeking a truly seamless experience for its customers should consider the power of AI. AI can play a vital back office role, automatically retrieving customer information and sharing it with human agents as soon as they pick up the phone.
As always, however, new tech investment should be treated with caution. Companies should seek a skilled technology partner to help them understand how to integrate AI and ensure it achieves ROI.
With all your data in one place, maintained and fetched automatically, you can build a virtual customer identity for each and every customer. This is a consolidated profile of all the data you have on an individual, created on the first interaction and updated with each new one, whether that’s a proactive customer engagement from you or a journey initiated by your customer. This will give context and sentiment to every future engagement.
Any time a customer makes contact, their profile can be loaded up and passed along each stage. Every system and agent can immediately see who the customer is, who’ve they’ve spoken to and why they are calling now; maybe even assign a value on how they are feeling based on their previous (recent) interactions. With this level of insight, customer contact no longer seems superficial or skin-deep – it’s the mark of a company that truly ‘knows’ its customers.