More Digital Channels Can Come with Pitfalls for Contact Centers, but Omnichannel Can Help

By Catherine DeStasio | September 30, 2019

When companies open new lines of communication for customers through digital channels, the goal is to increase convenience and improve customer experience (CX), but if not implemented thoughtfully, it can also create unintended frustration. The frustration comes when customers using multiple channels have to repeat information several times before an issue is resolved. Getting it right takes a fully integrated, omnichannel approach that gives agents a complete historical view of transactions across channels.

Without an integrated view, more channels means poor CX, which hurts brand reputation and, ultimately,  the bottom line.

Repeating Information Has Long Been a Top Complaint

People hate having to work for good customer service. When they’re forced to repeat basic details, they’re spending valuable time without making progress toward resolution. The problem is so prevalent that a Consumer Reports survey found that 66% of respondents identified repeating information as one of their top service frustrations.

Before the digital age, the problem was caused by interactive voice response (IVR) systems that didn’t pass collected data to agent desktops, and phone networks that couldn’t share information across a cold transfer. But today, as communication channels proliferate and markets demand increasingly convenient service, the problem goes beyond the phone queue.

According to research by Vanson Bourne for Serenova, 68% of people use multiple channels to interact with one company, which is exacerbating the problem. To combat this, organizations must utilize an omnichannel approach in which agents and customers alike can seamlessly pivot from channel to channel and across devices, with all the data, context—and experience—intact.

Omnichannel Integration Pays Off

As a major CX upgrade, omnichannel also benefits the brand. Nemertes Research’s 2018-2019 Digital Customer Experience Study of almost 700 IT and corporate leaders found that businesses that implemented omnichannel saw measurable improvements in key metrics:

  • 7% increase in new customers won
  • 5% improvement in customer ratings, such as CSAT and post-call surveys
  • 4% increase in use of self-service
  • 2% increase in digital sales

Omnichannel can achieve results like these because it follows the customer from channel to channel, collecting data along the way. As people shift from social media to chat to a live agent, their history and account details go with them. They no longer have to start over at each point. As a result, service interactions become effortless, resulting in better CX, higher customer ratings and stronger brand reputation.

Omnichannel contact centers win more customers by connecting with them where they are, like chat or SMS. Customers can move seamlessly from social interactions to sales pages to order status updates, which can increase online sales and self-service usage because it never leaves people trapped in automation. If consumers get stuck trying to place an order, for example, they can click a button and ask for help without giving up the progress they’ve made because an agent will have that customer’s history at his or her fingertips.

Omnichannel Improves Service across Channels

Turn chatbots into chat geniuses.

Chatbots are terrific for handling quick questions, and people generally like them until they hit the limits of their knowledge and send customers to the phone queues. However, chatbots integrated with agent desktops allow consumers to stay in the chat channel when they need help. The logged conversation transfers to an agent desktop as soon as the customer requests a live person. The representative picks up where the bot stalled without a missed step.

Bots can even be programmed to suggest a live person when the conversation strays beyond its templates or they note frustration. The customer never has to repeat information or switch to a phone because agents will have access to all the needed data and context in one single place.

Map online journeys.

The course a customer charts through a website or mobile app reveals what they’re considering buying, how they maintain their accounts and what information they want about products or purchases. With these details, agents can take service to the next level.

For example, if agents know what webpage someone was browsing just before a call, they can quickly pull up relevant product information. Or if the caller bailed out of a purchase or web form, the agent can complete the transaction without starting over—reducing customer frustration and possibly recovering a sale. With screen share and video chat, agents help people learn to use self-service, navigate the website or customize mobile preferences.

Leverage CRM for smart routing.

Omnichannel capability links customer data from all sources of interactions. And when other applications like customer relationship management (CRM) tools are integrated with customer service systems, the call router can use customer details to send them to the best agent or department the first time.

For example, the CRM will indicate whether someone is a high-value customer. The router can then send them to an agent with the experience to work with VIPs. It will pop relevant background data along with the call so the agent can treat the caller with personalized service. Agents don’t have to ask for basic information like phone or address. They can easily access recent purchases or recently closed trouble tickets that might be motivating the call. As a result, it takes less time to deliver a customized experience to the customer.

Omnichannel Success Requires Careful Planning

Nemertes Research found that 21% of companies surveyed had already added omnichannel support and another 49% have plans to add it in the future. Omnichannel’s clear advantages are driving these initiatives, but many groups face delays from lack of budget or resources.

While implementing omnichannel capabilities seems like a daunting project, the data proves it’s worth the effort. And companies who act fast will capture clear and quick benefits.

Learn more about the Nemertes Research 2018-2019 Digital Customer Experience Study here.

 


Catherine DeStasio is Content Manager at Serenova.