In today’s omnichannel world, consumers want to effortlessly switch between channels such as social media, email, SMS and the web, and expect the brands they transact to move and interact with them in their chosen channel each time. That’s especially true when it comes to customer care.
Customers now contact organizations more frequently and via more channels, and increasingly will use multiple channels simultaneously. Ever more demanding and less inclined to wait, they value fast responses and are more than willing to find the answers themselves. Indeed, according to Gartner, by 2030 automated self-service will be the go-to user experience for customers seeking to obtain support and value from the organizations they interact with.
Little wonder then that customer service is at a tipping point as contact centers strive to transform their operations with the introduction of automation, AI and a raft of new digital engagement and communication channels.
According to a recent Global Consumer Pulse survey by Accenture, 78% of consumers expect customer service and support to be faster; 58% expect more digital options for obtaining service and support; and 55% expect companies to communicate and respond to them via their preferred channels.
For brands that master the delivery of a truly unified and frictionless omnichannel and round-the-clock customer experience, the rewards are golden. According to an Aberdeen Group 2018 omni-channel customer care study, companies that delivered strong customer engagement retained 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for those companies with weak customer engagement.
With customer experience set to exceed pricing and product as a key competitive differentiator between brands, here are five actionable tips to help you formulate a future-proof omnichannel strategy for the contact center.
1. Create a frictionless customer experience
As the lines between channels become increasingly blurred, customers now expect to start a conversation in one channel and continue on another channel without skipping a beat. No longer tied to a single channel, they want answers to their current needs in a manner that’s most convenient to them and expect to utilize the widest choice of contact options to achieve their aims.
Best in class organizations begin by mapping every customer journey and developing customer-care approaches that promote integration across multiple channels to deliver a truly ‘joined up’ omnichannel experience. For example, organizations should have the ability to move a customer enquiry that starts on social media or email to web chat or a phone call seamlessly, transferring data across those channels to eliminate any need for customers to repeat the same information several times to different contact center agents.
For contact centers, that means moving away from siloed activities and flawlessly interlinking their different media sessions to stay connected with customers in every channel.
2. Empower teams and instill an omnichannel mindset
Delivering true omnichannel service doesn’t just require omnichannel tools, it also requires omnichannel agents. According to Aberdeen Group, 85% of companies identified as top omnichannel performers conduct regular training of their customer care agents in the handling of omnichannel communications.
As contact centers evolve and add new channels, agents will need to be appropriately trained and re-skilled to confidently handle and toggle customer interactions across multiple channels. With many transactional calls moving to digital channels, interactions that are more complex will increasingly account for the largest share of voice calls to traditional call centers.
Empowering the super agents of the future with accurate and timely visibility of prior customer interactions and streamlined workflows will enable them to transition with ease to a new way of working.
3. Gain a unified view of customers
Implementing new digital-first communication channels and leveraging leading-edge technologies like AI-powered bots is just part of the story. To succeed at omnichannel, brands will need to bridge the gap between their CRM systems and contact center processes to deliver a 360-degree view of customers and their journeys.
Providing service agents with a single integrated view of a customer’s previous interactions, including relevant and contextualized data and transactions, will ensure agents are appropriately equipped to deliver rapid and informed service across multiple channels.
Those organizations that lack full visibility of where, how and why customers are choosing to interact from touchpoint to touchpoint will struggle to support agile customer care. It’s a difficult balancing act that requires a ‘test, learn, adapt’ approach to crafting integrated live, digital and human-based interactions into the customer journey.
4. Enable a ‘one-stop-shop’
Customers shouldn’t have to switch channels to complete a task if they don’t want to. Having to stop the conversation in one channel and engage in another to make a payment is a sure-fire way to lose their loyalty and business.
Today’s connected customers expect to pay easily across every touchpoint. Consequently, implementing an omnichannel strategy for the contact center should include making it fast, simple and effortless to transact.
Fortunately, solutions like Cardprotect Relay+ make it easy to create and send secure payment links to customers in any digital channel – including chat, social media, email and SMS – and deliver a truly unified customer experience.
5. Monitor and measure your efforts
Access to accurate data from calls and payment transactions can deliver deep insights that, when combined with data from other CRM and contact center management systems, makes it easier to analyze and improve the performance of the contact center itself and increase customer satisfaction with the brand experience.
Generating actionable real-time data, powerful solutions like Semafone’s Intelligence+ now enable management teams across the business to evaluate data on the percentage of successful payment transactions. Using these insights, it’s possible to identify customer channel transaction preferences, the peak times of day when customers are most likely to make payments, and even the optimal times to run campaigns with a payment call-to-action.
Get Ready for What’s Next…
Developing a customer-led omnichannel strategy depends on gaining clarity on where best to focus resources to optimize every individual touchpoint and understand the fast-evolving digital behaviors and preferences of customers.
As self-service increasingly becomes the norm, the contact center is utilizing other engagement approaches such as voice and AI-powered technologies to give customers what they want and achieve higher operational efficiency.
With Generation Z – the born-digital generation – waiting in the wings, Gartner predicts the contact center will face a profound shift as more and more of us delegate life tasks to our very own virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and voice-activated personal technologies. Now that’s food for thought.