Consumer Preferences are Changing: Why Call Centers Need Omnichannel Communication Technology
2020 effectively opened the door to new expectations when it comes to consumer communication and customer experience. As social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders motivated people to limit public exposure, it certainly didn’t limit the opportunities to innovate our communication methods. Consumer communication is evolving into a ‘digital preferred’ format. In fact, Salesforce reported that 55% of customers — including 68% of millennials and Gen Zers — prefer digital channels such as live chat and social media over traditional support methods such as calling a customer support helpline.
Not only do these customers expect multiple support channels, but they expect the communication to remain consistent and personalized among all of these different touchpoints. Customers want to spend less time providing background information and waiting for an appropriate support member, and want more high-quality, efficient and personalized support. The big question is: as customer expectations increase, how can contact centers keep up?
Omnichannel communication technology is the future of call centers. Call centers need to have the ability to not only connect and unify customer support platforms into one single touchpoint for agents, but also gain access to data and insights that allow for customers to be directly matched with a representative experienced in addressing their individual needs. In this article, we’ll discuss how call centers can leverage omnichannel communication technology to align with the digital shift.
Unified customer data allows call center teams to maximize and streamline their customer experience efforts. With omnichannel communication, call centers have access to a client’s history of service needs from every communication channel they have used. A smooth customer journey leads to satisfied consumers. Data assists call centers by providing the customer’s complete service history. While we all have different preferences for communication, omnichannel allows for all communication methods to be baked into your customer service strategy. Some consumers prefer to use live messaging, while others like talking on the phone. Other consumers want to communicate over social media or email. Whatever the preference is, companies should ensure that those methods are able to be utilized for customer to call center agent communication and support. However, some customers change their preferences based on their current situation. Is the customer at home when they need support? They may prefer to call the service number. Do they have a free moment at work? Perhaps they’d send an email. Gathering siloed data from each communication method does not portray a customer’s full journey and therefore, agents aren’t able to fully understand a customer’s needs without complete data and insights.
Contact centers using an omnichannel strategy have complete information on the customer and can easily understand their needs. The agent can instantly view what assistance the client needed previously and who they spoke with, helping them understand their issue and direct them to the right support more efficiently. According to a recent Microsoft State of Global Customer Service report, 36% of respondents felt the most frustrating aspect of a poor customer service experience is an agent that lacks the knowledge or ability to solve the customer’s issue and 31% said it is having to repeat or provide their data multiple times.
With unified data and omnichannel technology, all touchpoints are connected and customer data is provided to ensure minimal effort is required to achieve high-level support.
Increased revenue, customer retention, recommendations and brand awareness are just a few benefits companies receive when providing a positive customer service experience. A customer experience is more than customer service or even the product itself; it is a customer’s holistic view of the company based on the company website, online platforms, products and service and their interaction with company support teams. Omnichannel contact centers are equipped with technology, automation and information that can not only align all of these customer experience components but also improve performance and quality during customer support interactions.
Quality and performance improvements are not possible without detailed insights and the ability to efficiently automate processes. That is why omnichannel communication technology is crucial to improving customer experience and satisfaction; the capabilities provided with this technology effectively gives contact centers the power to perform tasks faster, better and more efficiently.
When omnichannel is integrated into a contact center’s strategy, information, messaging, branding and efficiency are aligned throughout every messaging channel utilized by customers and agents. For example, customers can utilize support through text messaging and live chat, while still receiving the same high-quality service in the same amount of time and the same amount of personalization.
Personalization is a customer experience component that is often overlooked. However, personalization has been shown to increase trust and positively impact buying patterns. Prior to omnichannel technology, personalization was a component that was challenging to provide to each customer; it required more effort, more time and to be candid, more care and thought from call center agents. Not to say that omnichannel communication technology alleviates the need for genuine agents and hard work, but this technology makes these ‘added bonus’ components such as personalization much more obtainable. But how does omnichannel technology make personalization more obtainable?
Here’s one example: A customer bought your product in September of last year and they have been having trouble with technical issues since the purchase. They called the support helpline in October seeking assistance and spoke with a technical support agent named David. The issue arose again in December, in which they used the live chat feature. With omnichannel communication technology, the agent has direct access to the customer’s personal data and history of support. Automatically, they can see that the customer previously had technical issues and talked with David who gave her the assistance and resolved the issue. From the customer’s first live chat message, the technology can instantly route them to David, whom she had previously talked with. The agent, David, has data and insights on his last interaction with her, and is then able to personally work with the customer to resolve their issue again. The process is not only streamlined due to automation and technology, but the customer is also being connected to an agent that genuinely knows who she is, her situation and how to help. Personalized customer support can build strong relationships between the customer and your brand, leading to a beneficial customer experience with minimal effort required from both the customer and the agent.
As industries advance in their technological capabilities, customers are being exposed to new and more efficient ways of getting what they want and need without putting in the effort like they used to. In order to keep up with the evolution of these preferences, call centers need an omnichannel communication technology. This strategy puts the customer experience at the forefront of its focus while using insights, data, automation and call tracking software. Not only does an omnichannel strategy streamline the service process, but it ensures call center agents are equipped with the technology, tools and information required to deliver exceptional support to the customer through any communication touchpoint that best suits their preferences.
We’ve seen customer preferences greatly evolve over the past year, but the future holds many opportunities to further alter customers’ expectations from call centers. The vast capabilities that omnichannel technology provides can only prepare call centers to evolve alongside these current and future consumer preference shifts. To ensure that your company and brand is satisfying your customers, omnichannel communication technology is a great place to start.
Todd Fisher is co-founder and CEO of CallTrackingMetrics. Todd founded the business in
2012 with his wife, Laure, in their basement and together have grown it into a Inc. 500-rated,
top-ranked call management platform serving over 30,000 businesses around the world.
Todd developed the initial software and as the CEO he continues to be the driving technical force of the company. Prior to CallTrackingMetrics, Todd co-founded SimoSoftware before selling it to RevolutionHealth in 2005. In 2009, Todd helped co-found Captico LLC, providing online software solutions for small businesses looking to accelerate their marketing and online presence.