Article : The Omni-Channel Challenge
The multi-channel subject has become an omni-channel discussion. Customers today expect a unified service experience over multiple channels with different touch-points. Nevertheless, many companies fail to live up to these expectations.
Customers today no longer rely on the knowledge and advice of the seller next door. Instead, they actively gather information about various offers before making a purchase. Thanks to unlimited online content and social networks where users share their experiences worldwide, that’s mere child´s play. More demanding customers expect the best and most convenient service - every time and everywhere - including the use of their favorite channels and self-service options.
And if these needs change, customers do not hesitate to switch the channel. They no longer follow a linear path to purchase and often bring their own devices into the mix as well. Nevertheless, they expect a seamless crossover incorporating previous interactions, e.g., the contact center agent must know about the email the customer sent the day before.
Neglecting an Omni-Channel Strategy
Reality can jolt the customer into a rude awakening. When switching channels, a customer may need to explain his concern again and again. Different channels may fail to deliver a consistent customer experience. Even worse, some channels may be unable to fulfill a customer´s requirements at all; some may be limited to online or in-store service.
Unaware of the customer’s previous interactions, agents may recommend unsuitable products or services, and the frustrated customer will share this joyless experience on social media, either before or after switching to the competition.
The Value of an Omni-Channel Strategy
To avoid hemorrhaging customers, companies must refrain from viewing their channels as distinct silos. Instead, they should align and synchronize channels to deliver a high-value customer experience whether in-store, online or through mobile devices.
Companies must implement a channel-centric strategy focused on customer needs and behaviors. The evolution from multi- to omni-channels brings about numerous, long-term advantages. According to the report by the Aberdeen Group, "The Business Value of Integrating the Contact Center Within Your Omni-Channel Strategy," companies with an omni-channel strategy increase their customer retention rate (+7.1%), positive mentions on social media (+5.5%), customer lifetime value (+4%) and the number of quality SLA´s (+2.5%). They also decrease the number of transfers per call (-4.0%) and agent overtime costs (-4.3%).
These benefits grow when integrated with a contact center, improving IVR completion rate (+10.6%), customer retention (+9%), customer lifetime value (+5.8%) and agent utilization rate (+3.5%). They also decrease the time spent by supervisors assisting contact center agents (-7.8%).
Implementation of Omni-Channel Strategy
To successfully implement an omni-channel strategy, the company must take a customer-driven approach. Understanding customers and their complete interaction and purchase history will help the company provide the most relevant information. And personalized attention will make the customer feel valued.
This approach might require new, targeted marketing techniques. But the integration of an omni-channel strategy goes beyond channels to incorporate all business functions.
In terms of agent interactions, customer requests must be routed based on the complexity and nature of the issue. Contextual routing means the customer will be connected to an agent with the skills to solve the matter.
Second, the agent selected must be supplied with all the necessary information in a manageable way. The agents’ desktops should be integrated with other enterprise systems (like CRM or ERP) to avoid spending too much time searching for relevant information on multiple screens. All agents should receive conversation guides as well as information about the customer´s previous journey over multiple channels.
After implementation, evaluation of the service level should go beyond a channel-by-channel analysis to consider the customer journey as a whole. Workforce optimization solutions must capture and reproduce the customer history across different channels to determine service quality and final satisfaction.
Analytics solutions must foster insight about customer requirements and experiences in order to identify weak points and optimize the omni-channel strategy step by step. By matching customer feedback in parallel to internal service-level evaluation, a 360-degree view of customer experience can be generated.
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About Verena Wissel:
In 2011, Verena Wissel joined ASC as a Product Manager to identify and analyze customer needs for quality management software and speech analytics. She holds a Masters degree in information science and engineering from the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Germany.
ASC is a worldwide software company with a variety of solutions to record, analyze and evaluate communications. All multimedia interactions in contact centers, financial institutions and public safety organizations are documented and analyzed. The content of communications becomes transparent, critical information is generated and market trends are revealed, providing real-time business intelligence for immediate management action. With subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, the United States, Brazil, Japan, Singapore and Dubai, as well as certified and vastly experienced distribution partners, ASC’s ambitious projects span more than 60 countries. Headquartered in Germany, ASC is a global player with an export quota of almost 70 percent and a worldwide service network.
Published: Monday, May 18, 2015