3 Reasons Omni-Channel Contact Centers Are the Future

As a contact center leader, your success depends upon how well you satisfy your customers’ omni-channel needs and drive consistent, measurable productivity over time.

Monitoring multi-channel performance and agent productivity is tough enough – let alone figuring out where a customer is in their journey and how you can meet them to propel them across the finish line with their arms in the air, ready to praise and evangelize your brand.

Introducing omni-channel.

Omni-channel contact centers elevate the customer experience by unifying multi-channel customer information within a common queue and providing a seamless, contextual, real-time experience on any channel, at any time.

Here are three reasons omni-channel contact centers will win in 2017 and beyond.


Omni-channel self-service simplifies the customer experience

Even though it might seem natural to focus efforts on prepping agents for telephone calls, the future of customer service is self-service.

And, the value of providing excellent omni-channel self-service will soon hold more weight than traditional voice service.

Answering simple customer service inquiries is more easily accomplished using straight-forward self-service options as opposed to a phone call or email.

Self-service essentially cuts out the middle man. If customers can get answers to their questions without taking up your time and resources, it increases efficiency on your part and satisfaction on theirs.

According to a 2015 Dimension Data survey, 42% of contact centers forecast a reduction in voice contacts, while 87% expect an increase in non-voice interactions going forward. A good deal of these will involve self-serve methods. The most popular self-service channels include online forums, virtual agents, and mobile self-service.

If agents need to step in and provide assistance, they can always do so. But going forward, more interactions will begin and end with customers helping themselves.

Self-service is a critical piece of the omni-channel puzzle. Self-service eliminates redundancies, aggravation, and inefficiencies in service while simultaneously giving customers the power to communicate with you on their terms.

Your move:

Provide a thorough and comprehensive FAQ page, which will eliminate a substantial amount of telephone inquiries.

A 2015 Forrester study found that, in the last 12 months, three-fourths of US adults had used an FAQ page – the most commonly used self-service method.

Chances are good that customers who use very similar products and services are running into very similar issues. Consider tracking the types of questions you receive – across all channels – then creating a concise portal with those questions and answers.

Your agents can use this page as a resource by directing future callers to a specific link or copying and pasting answers to common questions.

Mobile self-service is incredibly prevalent. Customers using their mobile device to browse an online e-commerce store, for example, can request a link be sent to their email if they have forgotten their password. They can automatically link their PayPal account to the company’s payment system for easy log-in across any device.


Texting works well for quick back-and-forth

According to OneReach, 64% of consumers with texting capabilities would prefer to use texting to voice for customer service.

SMS/MMS is common for personal and professional exchanges and is growing as one of the most popular customer service communication channels.

Let’s say a customer of a major national bank adds her teenage daughter to her checking account before she goes off to college. But according to the bank’s customer service representative, the change will need several days to process before it goes into effect.

The customer is told the addition to her account could take between three and five days, depending on a couple of factors outside her control.

All she can do is wait.

Instead of the customer calling the bank’s busy help desk back over the course of the next few days, the bank sets up automatic daily SMS notifications to let her know the status of the pending change to her account. This saves time and resources and increases customer satisfaction.

It’s one simple example of proactive customer service via texting.

Millennials, in particular, are partial to companies that enable and excel at customer service using texting; 77% of 18-34-year-old consumers are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text customer service (OneReach).

Though it’s only one channel, texting needs to be a part of your overall customer communication strategy and a central tenant of your omni-channel customer service strategy.

Your move:

Let’s say you’re running a customer experience management center at your company specializing in consumer appliances. You’ve been majorly ramping up resources in response to a promotional sale for a bunch of new kitchen appliances.

Based on previous campaigns like this one, you know you can expect high volume but “quick fix” service requests. You know your customers prefer texting for simple mechanical issues, so you decide to provide a “text us” option for customers who experience difficulties in setting up their appliances.

But when they text you, you’ll need all of their historical service and purchase data to be available to the representative.

The inbound text message will be automatically routed to the agent best suited for the query. Agents can then respond to the text message directly from the contact center application for easy resolution.



Omni-channel will integrate with advancements in cloud technology

Keeping up with the rate of technological innovation can help contact centers separate themselves from the competition.

What device will a customer use when they need to contact a company? Web chat, SMS/MMS, email, social media, voice, or another emerging channel?

Omni-channel contact centers will be able to seamlessly incorporate to-be-created customer service channels. Their integrations coupled with a universal queue and skills-based routing make a truly modern contact center nearly infinitely scalable.

Staying ahead of the curve as new technologies become mainstream is no easy task.

But that’s just it – omni-channel implies unlimited, all. Omni-channel customer service teams will be equipped to integrate new channels as they become available.

As we move into the future, there will be much less reliance on traditional voice-based service. Gartner expects that, by the year 2020, 85% of interactions will take place without involving a human agent.

Live video, social media sentiment monitoring, wearables, and virtual reality gadgets may become necessary service channels for some businesses within the next few years. Omni-channel contact centers are prepared to field service needs across every channel, no matter when, where, or how.

Your move:

The best (and only) way to truly ensure you’re prepared for the evolving digital landscape (and ensuing omni-channel consumer demand) will be to invest in an omni-channel contact center solution.

Customer experience is the new battlefield. Omni-channel is the path to victory.

Having an omni-channel customer service approach will allow you to adjust to technological disruptors on-the-fly as needed.

Research shows the expectation for contextual and relevant customer service is soaring.

According to Internet Retailer, companies with the strongest omni-channel engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.

The bottom line: customer service teams must be able to leverage all relevant customer data across all channels and at all times. Only then will they be able to provide the kind of seamless, contextual experience customers demand.