In today’s market, customers expect speed. They’ve become accustomed to fast responses and communication, especially over digital means of contact. In today’s world, especially with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic having taken hold, there are plenty of consumers who engage entirely digitally with your business from start to finish. As any decent marketer will tell you, having more touchpoints and means by which consumers can initiate contact with you is better than exclusively using one platform. People stick to what they’re used to, and when presented with the option of learning how to use a new system or platform and going elsewhere, many will opt to move on and choose another brand. For this reason, it’s vital that you have as many ways of contact as possible – this is called the multi-channel contact approach.
Of course, such an approach isn’t without its problems. Often, you’ll need to blur the lines between the two, for instance, if a customer phones in with an inquiry that will take time to gather the information to answer it’s more convenient for them to email them the reply than phone them again. However, with lots of channels and lots of information having to be accounted for, things can be lost in translation – after all, the person who takes a phone call may not be the same one who writes the email reply.
The Omnichannel Approach
This is where an omnichannel contact center comes into play. Omnichannel takes the idea of integration to the next level. Meaning you’ll store the information obtained via communication channels within a singular database. For obvious reasons this requires someone to translate the information into a storable form and as such doesn’t seem that relevant when you can obtain answers to queries there and then but remember, people often ask the same questions so having a database of answers at your fingertips is very useful indeed.
The other use of an omnichannel contact center is those times when you cannot answer all of your customers’ inquiries in the span of a single conversation. Which happens far more often than the inverse. In this case, information about what has been asked, what has been said and the overall direction or purpose of the conversation can be pulled out by the next person to engage with that particular inquiry. It’s a great way to improve the customer experience. As nobody likes repeating themselves to several different people in order to get an answer. But also saves your people time as they no longer have to spend time asking things someone has already asked.
Customer Expectations from An Omnichannel Contact Center
Customers are at the center of the omnichannel philosophy. Everything you do should be geared towards helping them have a better experience with your business and what it is that they want from you. Which parts you focus on will depend entirely on your target demographics. If you market towards older generations, email and telephone are likely to be your main platforms. If you aim towards the younger generations, you’re more likely to use websites, apps, and messaging services. However, you need to keep in mind that these are rough generalizations, and you should always check your platforms’ traffic levels to see where to put your focus as time goes on.
Customer expectations will vary based on your services and business size. However, there are a handful of expectations that you can guarantee will be relevant:
- Automation to direct towards the right channel or person
- Data protection
- Cross-platform support
- Rapid dissemination of detailed information
- First-contact resolution, highly important to younger generations who value their time
Among those points, perhaps the most relevant to the omnichannel approach is the ability to retrieve information quickly and efficiently. Both when dealing with customer inquiries and within the business itself. If a problem arises that has been encountered in the past, it’s a simple thing to delve into a properly set up database and find the solution waiting there for you.
How To Implement an Omnichannel Approach
Setting up an omnichannel contact center requires planning, especially in the case of larger organizations. In order to implement this approach, you first need to create a means of storing and retrieving data. This can be as simple as a shared document or spreadsheet across a drive that can be accessed by all your personnel, or as complicated as cloud database software. It’s entirely down to your needs and the amount of data you think you will be required to store as it’s often the size of the database that slows down a connection, rather than complexity.
Once you have your database, the next important step is to store information in a standardized format. You might be able to read back perfectly your own scribbled notes or shorthand. But it can be guaranteed that someone else will have difficulty doing so. By keeping the data in a standardized form, it is readable by anyone who accesses the piece of information. Thus allowing for a seamless transition between one employee handling a certain case and another. Another helpful tool is tagging, by which you can flag certain properties of your data. In order to assist someone looking for information on those properties in the future, a definite time-saver.
An omnichannel contact center isn’t as daunting as it sounds and can be useful to any business ranging from a handful of employees to a worldwide conglomerate. The omnichannel approach isn’t new as an office worker or organizer will tell you but has a new meaning when applied to the digital world. It’s all about time and the customer experience, with the ability to retrieve data saving both you and your customers time and effort in day-to-day affairs.