Delight Your Customers with an Omni-Channel Contact Center

Not long ago, enabling customers to contact your business through multiple channels — voice, email, web forms, fax, chat and text messages — was on the cutting edge. In this way, customers were empowered to start conversations with companies through whichever communication means worked best for them.

While companies pursing a multi-channel strategy had taken a giant step in the right direction, it turned out that they had not gone far enough. Unfortunately, each channel tended to operate in isolation, and because customers use multiple channels, that’s a problem. For instance, customers may start a conversation on chat, then call to talk with a live human being. When channels operate in silos, customers may need to repeat information they’ve already relayed, leading to disjointed and frustrating customer experiences.

The crux of the issue is that customers don’t think in terms of channels. They simply try to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Whether they reach out to your contact center via the phone, your website, Twitter, or LinkedIn, they expect a straightforward, efficient path to the answer.

Because of the failure of multi-channel solutions to meet customer needs, the omni-channel call center was born. It weaves together information from disparate communication channels into a centralized queue, enabling companies to deliver service that meets and exceeds customer expectations.

For example, in an omni-channel environment, a bank’s customers might be able to check their account balance via an app while simultaneously using interactive voice response (IVR), a telephone menu system that routes callers to agents best able to answer a caller’s questions.

How to Implement an Omni-Channel Contact Center

Given that today’s customers expect a seamless experience via multiple channels, how do you set up an omni-channel contact center?

First, define the channels through which your company will communicate with customers. This step may sound simple. However, there is a veritable smorgasbord of channels from which to choose. These include everything from text, chat and mobile apps to social messaging platforms (Facebook Messenger and Apple Business Chat) to smart speakers (Google Home and Amazon Echo.) Then, of course, there are also the more traditional communication means, such as phone, email, web forms and more.

Next, make sure you have the necessary technology to support your omni-channel initiative. You may need a customer relationship management (CRM) system, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and a customer experience management (CXM) solution.
Let’s look at the role they each play:

  • Customer Relationship Management

Your CRM system is essential for storing a treasure trove of information about customers. It goes beyond stats, segmentation and lead qualification to offer human insight that bridges the divide between channels. Thus, it enables your business to provide a personalized experience through all communication mediums.

  • Analytics

Analytics enable you to gain actionable insights from all of your customer interactions across channels in a single application. You’ll be able to use data related to customer behavior and their interactions with your business to optimize your marketing and sales initiatives and offer superior service.

  • Artificial Intelligence

AI also helps to connect the dots between communication channels, integrating data and mining it to offer customers the information they need. Also, it’s the power engine behind chat. Because AI can understand queries and respond to them rapidly, chat often masquerades successfully as a human being. Finally, AI can help route calls intelligently, shrinking wait times and ensuring customers talk to the reps who can service them best.

  • Customer Experience Management

CXM technology is the next generation in the evolution of CRM. It goes beyond managing customers to supporting a customer-focused strategy and offering relevant service. CXM is better than CRM at providing real-time actionable information that enables your organization to delight customers. Thus, it’s the icing on the cake of CRM, pulling together customer information across all channels so your company can act on it when it counts.

There are several vendors that offer technology to support your omni-channel contact center. They include:

  • Genesys

Genesys offers a cloud-based solution that integrates all customer conversations, voice and digital, into a central repository. According to a Forester study, it has proven to deliver a 158% ROI.

  • Zoho

Zoho CRM Plus connects customer communications across all channels, providing the right information at the right time so that you can personalize your outreach to them and provide quick, insightful responses. It also includes SalesSignals which provides real-time notifications of customer actions, including when they open your emails or engage on chat.

There are, of course, many more customer experience software solutions to explore.

Companies that fail to pursue an omni-channel contact center will fall short of customer expectations and, thus, cede ground to their competition. So it’s time to decide which channels your business should use to communicate with customers, assess the solutions you have in place for communicating with them and explore options to fill the gaps in your omni-channel technology stack.

If you do not have the resources to implement an omni-channel contact center, or are concerned doing so would take too long, consider working with a third-party that can act as your virtual contact center.