Brands may aspire to be omni-channel—but most are still only multichannel. But what’s the difference? Omni is Latin for all—and when we talk about omni-channel, it really means all customer channels are integrated. That integration is what makes every interaction with your brand a seamless customer experience. Multi, on the other hand, means many. And in the world of customer experience (CX), that means there are many channels for customers to connect with—physical locations, phone, chat, email, social, websites—but not all are integrated.
Fewer than one in three consumers agree that brands make it easy to switch between different channels, and yet 81% of consumers want different channels to be available to meet their needs, according to BT’s report “Autonomous Customer 2015: On Hold for Intelligent Customer Service.” It’s clear a gap exists.
In bridging that gap, brands often overlook the power of the contact center—an excellent tool for integrating customer touch points. And with ever-increasing innovation in customer experiences, that integration is key for delivering on customer expectations. It’s estimated that even within the next year, consumers will interact with up to nine different contact channels when engaging with a brand (Dimension Data’s “2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report”). And the majority of those nine channels often process through the contact center.
Bridge the Gap
Here are five steps that can help you bridge the gap with your contact center.
1. Assess what you do best.
That sounds pretty simple, right? Not always. Most organizations actually focus on what they do poorly instead. Reverse the thought process and take a hard look at what your contact center does really well so you can duplicate it across other channels.
If answering the phone creates a more intimate and connected experience for the customer, how can you apply that idea to a phone, chat, or social media interaction?
An omni-channel experience means customer interactions must be consistent across every channel and every touch point. With over 74% of customers today interacting with at least three channels, you can’t afford to take a backseat approach to consistency—or you run the risk of alienating your customers. Figure out what you do best and maximize it across every channel.
2. Listen to what your customers are saying.
Most contact centers use recorded phone calls to assess customer interactions. While that’s a good practice, it can certainly use improvement. Your process should capture feedback as close to the actual interaction as possible, preferably using the same channel the customer used to contact you.
The right program will open up a wealth of information about what you’re doing well and what you can do better. Then you can measure if your customer feedback agrees with the strengths you identified in step one. To go even further, assess how each channel is either enabling or hindering customer loyalty and the omni-channel experience. Then you’ll understand what changes need to happen across channels to ensure each one is adding to your entire brand experience.
3. Provide rapid service recovery.
In our gotta-have-it-now culture, speed is essential in every aspect of a brand interaction—but especially when it comes to service recovery. We are all consumers and know what it feels like when a brand fails to resolve an issue. Plus, 82% of customers indicate the No. 1 reason for a great customer experience is having an issue resolved quickly, according to Fonolo’s “10 Customer Service Statistics You Need to Know.”
And often the contact center is the last chance for brands to resolve an issue. That means brands absolutely must have an internal process to record, track and resolve customer issues that come through the contact center—and respond to time-sensitive feedback. Part of your customer listening strategy should be closing the loop when specific scores, criteria, or key words in customer comments arise. Brands that can resolve most customer issues in near real-time stay ahead of future issues—and retain customer loyalty in the process.
4. Take action on contact center reporting.
Your brand’s reporting platform should be readily accessible, role-based and actionable. And your reporting data should provide key measures, trends and focus areas—and seek to improve performance at every level in the organization.
Customer satisfaction remains the most important measure when organizations evaluate their contact center performance, according to CCW’s “Executive Report on Performance & Agents” (2017). Robust, dynamic reporting capabilities will uncover opportunities to coach agents, improve training, increase speed of problem resolution and streamline consistency of service.
And Dimension Data’s report shows that 71.5% of contact center leaders agree that using analytics to determine where service opportunities lie allows for better agent performance and customer experience overall.
5. Take action on brand-level insights.
Action is the most critical step in any business strategy. To leverage the contact center to its full potential, a brand needs to see beyond agent or center performance an focus on trends in feedback. At a minimum, that means reporting data should integrate with other channels to show a complete picture of the customer experience. This is where reporting moves from simply tracking key measures to understanding key insights.
By integrating the data across channels, brands can better understand key drivers of customer satisfaction. Data captured in the contact center—customer effort, first contact resolution and customer sentiment—is often valuable in other areas of the organization. If a customer attempts to resolve an issue using FAQs on the brand’s website without success, then walks into a store to find the answer, only to be sent to customer service—the customer has already accessed three channels before resolution is underway.
With a CX measurement program capable of capturing resolution attempts, effort and sentiment, a brand can use these integrated touch points to gain key insights on where to take action. And that’s why moving from multi-channel to omnichannel is worth the effort.
Every organization wants to win in two major ways: reducing costs and improving loyalty. More than three quarters of organizations (77%) indicate that an improved customer experience helps reduce costs to the organization, according to Dimensio Data. And BT reports that 88% of consumers say they are more loyal to organizations if it’s easy to do business with them. Leveraging your contact center to take your brand from multi-channel to a robust, holistic omni-channel experience is the first step to achieving these goals.
is vice president of CX solutions for Service Management Group. He has extensive leadership experience in contact center, client services, customer experience, employee engagement and operations across leading retail, consumer goods, healthcare and technology companies. He developed a process to bridge the gap from multi- to omni-channel utilizing the contact center as the hub of information, enabling a nearly seamless experience for customers navigating from the web to a store.