The omnichannel contact center melds all channels into a seamless experience

Give your Modern Customers (and Agents) the Simplified Experience they Deserve

An Omnichannel Contact Center Makes Operations Seamless to Improve Painful Experiences

Some 70% of customers crave a seamless process when they reach out to customer service. They want to move between channels and conversations easily. Plus, they’d give anything not to tell their painful story time and time again. (And again. And again.) Your customers expect service that:
  • Is consistent across every channel
  • Requires little effort from them
  • Is personalized to their needs
They expect an omnichannel customer experience. An omnichannel contact center lets customers reach out for help how they want to. And, it lets your agents move between channels easily, so they can help your customers no matter how they reach out. Omnichannel isn’t piecing together one system for chat, another for email, and a third for calls. Then, using all those systems separately without tying together customer information and history. Forcing customers to start and stop interactions over and over again just to solve a single problem. That’s multichannel, not omnichannel. With an omnichannel approach, companies can pass context between channels. So, when Jon reaches out to replace his FitBit, your team of agents know he’s called in twice about issues, initiated a live chat for quick help, and he still has an outstanding case. And when Kelly ordered the wrong size in her new Spanx leggings, an agent can switch from call to MMS and ask her to snap a picture of her receipt without stopping the conversation.
Want to decrease costs, improve handle times, and boost agent confidence? Learn how Sharpen’s omnichannel can help.

The Role of Contact Centers in Shaping the Customer Experience

Customers want to reach out to your company and get connected to a knowledgeable agent who’s informed about their past interactions, issues, and how they like to communicate. In the contact center, customers expect that agents have the customer data they need to solve problems. They expect that when they enter personal information in the IVR, they don’t have to rehash it later while talking to an agent. The more your agents know about your customers, and the easier it is for customers to find a solution to their problems, the better your customer experience. Your contact center plays, arguably, the most crucial role in shaping customer experience. It’s mission critical to use data to fuel your agent-customer interactions. And, it’s vital to deliver on the seamless omnichannel experience customers expect. Omnichannel empowers your agents with the knowledge they need to solve problems faster. Without the stress of switching between platforms. The personalized, seamless experience your agents deliver is what makes or breaks a standout customer experience. It’s why companies with the strongest omnichannel engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies. omnichannel contact center When you don’t meet customers where they are, and still deliver the white-glove service they expect, you risk a fragmented customer experience. One that breeds disloyalty and dissatisfaction. To succeed with modern customers, your company needs an omnichannel contact center. Companies that marry an intuitive user experience with seamless integration between mobile apps, FAQs, real-time social support, virtual agents, IVR, and self-service options – along with live interaction with a customer service agent will thrive. Now and in the future. omnichannel contact centers will thrive now and in the future
See what Frost & Sullivan say are the most important forces impacting the contact center market this year (and what they say about Sharpen).

Distinguishing Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Contact Centers

Two decades ago, the most progressive contact centers were effectively blending a couple of channels – typically voice and email. Today, it’s commonplace for companies to queue and route inquiries by phone, email, social media, and chat. But simply having tons of channels for your customers to reach out doesn’t make you an omnichannel contact center. When contact centers add new channels but don’t adopt a fleshed out omnichannel strategy, that’s when “omnichannel” is really just clunky multichannel. And when you just add more work to your agents’ to-do lists. Piecemealed systems create disjointed experiences, for your customers AND your agents.
“Omni-channel customer service provides a real-time perspective of customer interactions, regardless of channel. Multi-channel is a siloed approach where contact and interaction details reside wholly or in part in the channel silo. As a result, front line staff can’t access the most current or accurate information. They are therefore at a disadvantage when interacting with customers.” – Colin Taylor (@colinsataylor), CEO & Chief Chaos Officer at The Taylor Reach Group
Omnichannel done well doesn’t just tie together a few communication channels. It bundles up your knowledge management, your analytics, your CRM, AND all those different ways customers reach out into a single, interconnected experience. Omni-channel contact center definition
Hear industry expert Lori Bocklund dive in on the importance of omnichannel and why we’re thinking too much about it. Talk less about channels and more about solving problems. Watch the webinar.

5 Reasons to Implement an Omnichannel Cloud Contact Center Platform

1. Customers are looking to channels like chat, social, and self-service to solve their needs.

These days, our phones serve as an extension of who we are. We use them to consume information, buy our dog food, email our bosses, and connect with the world. In fact, the average US citizen has 37 mobile apps installed and spends five hours per day on their phone.  Our world is mobile first. So, it makes sense then, that customers turn to mobile options, first. More than 6 in 10 U.S. adults turn to channels like chat, social, and self-service picking up the phone to dial a customer service line. Consumers want service on their terms, with minimal wait time. Waiting on stand-by or on-hold for an available agent is frustrating for 80% of consumers, according to OneReach. Even worse, more than two-thirds of customers will only wait on hold for two minutes or less. People are more reliant on themselves to find answers to their problems now more than ever. Just last week I watched YouTube videos to learn how to start my car with a dead key FOB. Watching the video got me to a resolution in less than two minutes. If I would’ve called customer service, I might not have even reached an agent by then. And these changing tides are why some 77% of consumers aged 18-34 have a positive perception of companies who offer quick channels, like texting, for customer service. Texting is among the best methods to nullify these issues, and though it’s only one component of an omnichannel strategy, it’s perhaps the most important integration right now. Investing in a platform that lets you deliver service tailored to modern customers gives you a leg up on the competition who’s still tied up in the spiral cords of desk phones.

2. An omnichannel contact center makes your agent experience better.

In 2020, the demand for an omnichannel customer experience will be amplified by the need for near perfect execution. Customers reaching out for help already stew in a state of frustration. The customer who’s about to boil over, the need to solve problems. Now. Plus, the pressure to keep an eye on dozens of other metrics is enough to make your agents crack. These factors put extreme pressure and demand on contact center teams to produce. It’s no secret that customer service agents don’t have it easy. On a daily basis, agents deal with dozens of consumers who experience a range of different issues. They have to be prepared (and equipped with the knowledge they need) to solve a diverse set of problems. On top of all that, agents have to meet these tough demands while flipping through tons of screens and using systems that don’t share information. Deloitte found 65 percent of company leaders say overwhelmed employees are an urgent or important workplace trend. To lift some of the burden off the shoulders of agents, contact center leaders are turning to omnichannel contact center solutions to consolidate their toolsets. If agents have to mollify the constant frustrations of customers and problem-solve for increasing complex issues, they need tools that help them. Not tools that add more work and frustration to their plates. That’s why last year, 60% of contact center leaders planned to measure agent effort. They could chart its impact on customer and agent experience. Then another 40% of contact center leaders put reducing agent effort on their priority list.

How can they do it?

With omnichannel tools that wrap every channel, and all needed customer data, into a single interface. Zoom out: Simply adding more channels doesn’t mean you make your agent experience better. “Omnichannel” with pieced-together systems really just makes service harder on agents.
Learn 9 business impacts of a better agent experience, like lower turnover and higher CSAT.

3. Omnichannel contact centers integrate with modern tech and tools.

Omnichannel cloud contact centers are scalable, agile, and robust enough to integrate with new technologies as they pop up in the market. The most advanced omnichannel contact centers work like large rivers with tributaries from various pools where customer data lives. When new service channels pop up, developers and IT pros can integrate them into the omnichannel environment. So you still have a single interface to house all your channels and customer data. And, you get an update to your contact center platform without downtime that harms your service. With tight integrations and open APIs to share data, true omnichannel contact centers make it easy to operate and make changes to your system on the fly. As you invest in new systems or add more channels, your agents’ workflow doesn’t have to change. Then, no matter which channel customers use, agents will be able to see all relevant historical information collected across every channel. In our modern tech world, it’s hard to predict what channels and technologies will affect the market next. You need a nimble omnichannel contact center that can adapt with you as the world changes around you.

4. No two customers are alike. And they seek help differently, too.

Customers settle service needs in different ways. Some need their hand held while others want to fly solo, never calling in for help. (I’ll raise my hand to that.) Nonetheless, customers all seek the same thing: a fast, effective solution to their problem. An omnichannel contact center lets you personalize the experience based on how your customer wants to reach out. And, it helps you unify communications, so you create a consistent experience across every channel. Let’s face it. The world is shifting. Channels are diversifying. And customers seek help in new ways every week. As a previous manager of a Facebook page, I can’t tell you how many times I got messages from customers who needed help but didn’t want to pick up the phone to get it. That left the customer service experience to me, a marketer without all the technical product knowledge of my peers, a crop of well-trained, knowledgeable agents. Omnichannel gives the control back to your contact center. Voice is still a critical channel. But, as more customers look to different channels, omnichannel becomes increasingly importance. Especially with data showing customers gravitating toward digital channels. Gartner expects that in the next year, customers will stop relying on voice as the primary mode of communication with businesses. They’ve even predicted that 85% of interactions will take place without involving a live agent. New omnichannel contact center stats support digital channels like self-service over voice Today, 42% of contact centers forecast a reduction in voice interactions, while 87% expect an increase in interactions on other channels. Whether they’re shopping online, calling about car repair service, scheduling a vacation, or checking a potential fraud charge on their bank account, customer service interactions happen in all shapes and sizes. Contact center teams must address and prioritize every channel as voice becomes less of a favorite.

We’re not there yet

Let’s consider the mindset and service of an online shopper – you, sitting on your couch with the TV on while you search for those shoes you’ve been eyeing. You’re likely shopping from the comfort of the couch because… well… it means you don’t have to leave the house. Or fight crowds. Or change out of your sweatpants. But, when you have a question about how those shoes fit, or how you can expedite delivery, you don’t have a person in a physical location to turn to. That said, you’ll seek information from the ecommerce site’s FAQs, a live chat window, or maybe even an email address. Current state, more often than not, all these channels aren’t offered. Or, they don’t answer the right questions. In a survey of 7,000 online shoppers, two-thirds said they used more than one device to shop – but only 7% of these shoppers were satisfied with the experience. And, 55% of U.S. adults say they are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question. Out of 7,000 online shoppers, two-thirds used multiple devices, but only 7% were happy with the experience If companies start operating in an omnichannel headspace, they can provide better service and boost revenue. They can add tools like web chat or self-help to their websites. Because after all, 70% of your customers expect it.

5. Omnichannel consolidates your data for better reporting.

An omnichannel contact center strategy lets call center managers get a comprehensive look into the performance of their team. Instead of looking at performance by channel and across disparate systems, an omnichannel solution bundles up performance data across all channels and every team. First, you have to pick the KPIs you want to measure. Then, outline your benchmarks. What does success look like for your contact center? Do you want to get higher CSAT scores? Decrease Average Speed of Answer? What about improve FCR? Set comparative benchmarks for success. Then, the right omnichannel contact center platform does the work for you. A true omnichannel platform monitors data across every channel and pulls info from other systems for easy reporting. You can do things like:
  • Measure the origin, hold time, and length of calls across all channels;
  • Monitor customer self-service journeys on your website, IVR, and mobile app;
  • See how many inquiries came in via social media, chat, and other self-service channels;
  • See which specific channels customers use to contact your call center over time;
  • Use a universal, integrated queue and retire disparate, channel-specific queues that separate agents.
The most successful companies use omnichannel insights to measure, report, and analyze their data. They gather intel direct from their platform to inform their decisions on where to allocate resources, streamline operations, and improve agent performance. An omnichannel contact center gives you the puzzle pieces (and the box with the picture on it) to put together your 360-view of customers. With customer experience as a competitive battlefield, omnichannel is the weapon you need to win.
Want all these omnichannel benefits wrapped into one, user-friendly platform? We can help with that. See for yourself.
We originally published this post on November 30, 2016, and we updated it for tone and new insight on November 14, 2019.