Delivering the Ultimate Omnichannel Experience Starts with the Contact Center
By: Brad Snedeker, Director of Innovation at Calabrio
There’s no way around it—customers want digital self-service options. Whether it’s an app-based system that allows a customer to walk in and pick up an order, or the ability to text a question about a product and receive an immediate answer, customers expect access to brands when and how they want. And this “on demand” customer experience has the power to drive repeat business. With a seamless, consistent and personalized experience across all channels, businesses can edge out their competition by increasing customer satisfaction. In fact, companies with strong omnichannel strategies retain an average of 89 percent of customers.
However, while the reward is high, the risks associated with poor execution are higher, and companies with weak omnichannel execution have a dismal 33 percent retention rate. Unfortunately, the problem goes deeper: companies know they’re not delivering. A new report from Calabrio found that while 93 percent of businesses understand the importance of providing a seamless, quality experience across all channels, only 45 percent think they are very effective at doing so. The gap between priority and execution is clear, so the question becomes: what are companies doing wrong and how can they fix it?
Calabrio’s report revealed that many companies aren’t properly investing in digital self-service to deploy true omnichannel programs, putting undue stress on the contact center resulting in a fragmented customer experience. However, by shifting focus to the contact center, organizations can close the gap to meet customers’ expectations across every channel.
Here are four ways that business leaders should be leveraging the contact center to deliver the ultimate omnichannel experience.
Understand the customer-facing implications
For most companies, setting up a new self-service channel is simple. In fact, 58 percent find it easy to deploy a new touchpoint. However, the ease of adding another channel can lead to organizations doing so without first understanding what kind of experience a customer will have. The customer journey is complex, and with every new channel comes a slew of inbound communication. On the other end of those interactions are agents in the contact center who must have the right customer information at their fingertips in order to make decisions that build brand loyalty. If the right groundwork isn’t in place, those agents will be overwhelmed or ill-prepared, and the result will be a customer experience catastrophe.
To implement a solid omnichannel framework, it’s important to take a step back and reevaluate internal processes before adding a new channel. By first mapping the complete customer journey, companies can understand which paths customers want to take and implement channels that make sense along the way. From there, they can align people, processes and technology to ensure that customers are getting a consistent, integrated experience from start to finish.
Stop the guesswork
Many organizations add new self-service options because they think that’s what customers want. While customers do want new options, companies don’t know which ones they prefer—and that’s because they’re guessing. Forty-four percent of business leaders say they offer four or more channels to communicate with their brand, but 58 percent admit they think their customers only use two or three. That guesswork can be detrimental to the entire customer experience, but the remedy is simple. By going straight to the source and understanding customer preferences through the contact center, companies can eliminate uncertainty and focus on the channels customers want.
With the help of analytics, the contact center can answer some of the most pressing self-service questions: Which channels have the most traffic? What’s the drop-off percentage? At what point do customers move from one channel to another, and when do they pick up the phone? Equipped with customer preference and behavioral insights, the contact center can adjust staffing and forecasting strategies so the right people are available at the right place and time.
Rethink hiring and training
While it’s important to look at the customer experience through a comprehensive lens, companies must understand that each channel is different and requires a unique strategy. Customers may be more likely to use emojis in text messages, but pen a lengthier note via email––both channels must offer thoughtful and unique responses that address and resolve customers’ needs. Yet, only 55 percent of companies have changed the way they hire to address these unique customer service requirements.
As digital self-service channels continue to emerge, contact centers can no longer use a one-size-fits-all strategy. Every contact center agent has unique strengths and weaknesses, and an agent with a high success rate over the phone may not have the same victories via text. From the beginning, contact centers should hire specialized agents to manage specific channels and implement training strategies to set them up for success. By empowering them with training and channel-specific analytics, agents will gain a deeper understanding of customer behavior that will increase customer satisfaction and decrease churn.
Quality assurance is king
The contact center is the one department that touches every communication channel, which is a huge opportunity to understand channel-specific and cumulative behavior. While quality assurance (QA) is a common practice to analyze conversations, the majority of contact centers haven’t installed QA beyond the phone. Leaving them to miss out on customer insights that can inform omnichannel strategies and drive business change.
When the contact center applies QA to chat, text, email, social and more, it opens up a whole new world of customer insights. Not only does it indicate cross-channel customer preferences by analyzing all conversations, it enables the contact center to measure quality and consistency which ensures a seamless, end-to-end omnichannel experience.
Digital self-service options are critical to the success of any company. They’re a convenient, easy way for customers to reach out to the brands they like the most. While those channels have the power to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty, without the right foundation, they also have the ability to torpedo the entire customer experience and send customers running into the arms of a competitor. Deploying omnichannel strategies goes far beyond simply adding a new channel; it’s an integrated, end-to-end process that requires a mix of tools, training, processes and people. The people in the contact center are on the other end of every interaction, and when they’re equipped to meet—and exceed—self-service expectations, companies can finally reap the benefits of omnichannel.
About Brad Snedeker
Brad Snedeker is the Director of Innovation at Calabrio. With over 15 years in the industry, Brad has extensive knowledge of the contact center space. As Calabrio’s head of the Innovation Center, he works directly with users to teach and develop new and innovative techniques to implement customer engagement and WFO best practices.