Gary Barnett, CEO, Semafone
It’s no longer an option to have one single channel for customer service and support. The days of a traditional ‘call center’ that solely focused on telephone communications are well behind us. Thanks to digital transformation, the top enterprise contact centers now support self-service automation and multiple channels of customer service and sales – via telephone, interactive voice response (IVR), email, website, chatbots, social media, SMS, even AI-powered digital voice assistances like Alexa and Google Assistant. No matter which communication channel they choose, customers expect a fast, frictionless, and secure experience… and great service.
Organizations that haven’t already evolved their contacts centers must start thinking of them as customer engagement centers – a hub that can provide customers with a seamless, omnichannel customer experience no matter what contact channel the customer uses.
Many organizations mistakenly use the terms multi-channel and omnichannel interchangeably when discussing customer service and sales – 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 these channels are serviced separately and often provide vastly different customer experiences. An omnichannel contact center can service customers seamlessly across any and every channel, and provide 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 webchat 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, providing a unified customer experience.
The Benefits of 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 essential factor when determining if they are loyal to brands. Moreover, companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, c°mpared 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.
Transforming Your Contact Center
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. These types of payment solutions enable 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. When researching and selecting this type of technology make sure the provider has flexible APIs so you can easily integrate with existing contact center applications and payment service providers (PSPs).
With these types of solutions, customers can 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 link is opened and when the customer has begun inputting their payment card number, when fraud checks have been completed, and when a payment has been successfully processed, 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, these types of digital payment technologies offer a unified and frictionless customer experience no matter what channel the customer has chosen to use.
The Future of Omnichannel Contact Centers
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.
Semafone provides secure voice transactions for contact centres and retailers taking Cardholder Not Present (CNP) payments. The solution allows a call - and the call recording - to continue as normal whilst the customer enters their credit card information using their telephone keypad. For complete security, Semafone's patented technology masks the Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) tones from the cardholder's telephone and replaces them with a flat tone so they can't be recognised by the call centre agent or recorded on the call recording system. By ensuring all card data remains segregated and by removing Sensitive Authentication Data (SAD) before it hits the call recorder and the contact centre infrastructure, the contact centre is taken out of the scope of PCI DSS, protected against the risk of opportunistic agent fraud and the associated reputational risk.
Published: Monday, September 23, 2019
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