Once upon a time, enterprise contact centers were known as call centers, because the telephone was the usual channel customers used to reach out to an organization for service and support. Today, the customer engagement landscape has radically changed. Thanks to the rise of digital transformation and self-service automation, organizations now have a long list of customer service and sales channels they must support – telephone, interactive voice response (IVR), email, website, chat bots, social media, SMS, even AI-powered digital voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant – the list goes on and on. Customers have a multitude of choices for both devices and channels through which to interact with businesses today – and whichever channel they choose, they expect fast, frictionless and secure service.
To meet customer expectations and succeed in today’s business landscape, organizations need to evolve their contact centers. They must start thinking of them as customer engagement centers and aim to deliver a seamless, omnichannel, customer experience no matter what contact channel the customer uses.
What is an Omnichannel Contact Center?
When discussing customer service and sales, many organizations mistakenly use the terms multi-channel and omnichannel interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. A multichannel contact center can serve customers across multiple different channels – such as telephone, email and the website – but they are treated as distinct, separate channels and often provide vastly different customer experiences. An omnichannel contact center can service customers seamlessly across any and every channel, providing a unified customer experience across them all.
As consumers increasingly adopt mobile solutions and digital voice assistants, the lines between channels begin to blur. A customer may start by browsing the website on their mobile phone, then not finding what they need, type a quick question into the web chat window. Wanting the fastest response possible, they might at the same time ask Siri to call the company so they can speak to a live person, who might then service the customer by sending a hyperlink to their mobile phone via SMS so they can quickly tap it to access what they needed. Customers don’t think about what channel they are using, they just want the fastest and easiest path to what they’re seeking. They shift between multiple channels seamlessly, sometimes using them all at the same time, and they expect efficiency and excellent customer service across them all.
Omnichannel contact centers should meet customers in the channel of their choice, integrating all touchpoints and channels into one, unified customer experience.
Why Become Omnichannel?
Transforming your organization’s contact center into an omnichannel customer engagement center may seem daunting – potentially requiring new operational processes, marketing tactics or even new technologies – but the payoff is undeniable. A study of 46,000 retail customers showed that omnichannel customers are more valuable and loyal, spending more on every shopping occasion, making more repeat purchases and being more likely to recommend a business to friends and family members, than single channel customers. A separate survey of 5,000 consumers found that the overwhelming majority (96%) say the customer service experience is an important factor when determining if they are loyal to brands. Moreover, companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to a customer retention rate of just 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.
In today’s increasingly competitive business landscape, delivering a unified, omnichannel customer experience for sales and support is worth its weight in gold for an organization – resulting in increased sales, higher profits, and greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
How to Make Your Contact Center Omnichannel
Implementing the right tools and technology solutions to make your contact center an omnichannel customer engagement center doesn’t need to be difficult. For example, new digital payment technologies make it possible for customer contact centers to enable a unified, frictionless, omnichannel customer experience for payments and purchases.
Semafone’s Cardprotect Relay+ enables businesses in any industry to quickly and easily generate secure digital payment hyperlinks that customer service representatives (CSRs) and agents can send customers through any digital channel, including webchat, social media, email, SMS, QR codes, chatbots, e-commerce or m-commerce and more. Customers simply click the link when they receive it – regardless of what device or channel they’re using – and enter their payment details for a secure payment process that is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). While the customer inputs their payment data, the system relays real time progress updates to the agent, notifying them of critical steps in the payment process, such as when the page is accessed and when the customer has begun filling in the card number, among others. Should the customer have any trouble at any point along the way, the agent will see this and be able to offer them support to solve the issue, leading to an increase in conversion rates. With no apps for customers to download, no dongles or hardware for them to use, Cardprotect Relay+ provides a unified and frictionless customer experience no matter what channel the customer prefers.
At the same time, Cardprotect Relay+ is easy for businesses to deploy, highly configurable and scalable. It is infrastructure-agnostic, integrating easily with third-party applications. When enterprise contact centers deploy Cardprotect Relay+ along with our flagship Cardprotect Voice+ solution for the telephone channel, they are able to rapidly and easily deploy a seamless payments solution across all channels, without the need for expensive hardware or becoming locked into a closed payments ecosystem like with many e-commerce platforms. And because Semafone’s Cardprotect solutions keep sensitive payment card data out of the contact center environment, securely routing it directly to the payment service provider (PSP), they make PCI DSS compliance a breeze.
The Way Forward
The future of customer contact centers is here and it’s omnichannel. Businesses need to be able to engage and transact with customers anytime, anywhere, across any touchpoint, device or channel. With an omnichannel strategy, contact centers can become true customer engagement centers – meeting consumer expectations for a seamless and unified customer experience in the channel of their choice. The results include not only a better customer experience, but also increased sales, customer retention and brand loyalty for the business – a win-win.