In this final post in our omnichannel series, we asked our panel of industry experts to pinpoint the most important thing for leaders to understand about developing an omnichannel strategy.
Previous posts in this series have offered key insights on the top challenges that contact centers face when transitioning their strategy from multichannel to omnichannel, the important first steps to take on your journey, how to prioritize customer channels, how to track the customer’s experience through multiple channels, which metrics will ensure that all channels are aligned with the omnichannel strategy, which elements of the contact center QA process will need to be reevaluated to monitor performance across channels, the impact on the contact center agent’s job and skill sets, and what types of internal resources are needed to implement an omnichannel strategy
What is the most important thing for company leaders to understand about developing an omnichannel strategy?
Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President of Strategy, OpenSpan:
From the company executives to the employees that are handling interactions, there must be a clear understanding of WHY an omnichannel strategy and what success looks like. Why is important to the business? Why is it important to customers? And finally, what is each individual’s responsibility for executing and delivering world-class customer experience… no matter the channel.
Vice President, Strategic Marketing, inContact:
Technology and people. That is the absolute and most important thing. Technology can’t solve it alone. People are the ultimate integration tool, but can’t solve technology problems.
If you have two systems on your screen it is a human integration issue. It used to be—we’ll just add more people. This is no longer the case. Margins are too tight and we need our agents to be efficient so they can be freed up to handle the customer and listen instead of juggling nine screens. We can’t use people to integrate these systems. Do not rush into omnichannel. Create a system and environment that allows agents to spend time in the most effective way possible and provide an effortless, standout customer experience.
Director, Product Management, USAN:
Almost any omnichannel vendor in the market can solve the problems of yesteryear, but few solve today’s most pressing challenges.
The goal of an omnichannel strategy is not only to provide reactive service to customers as they move among communication channels while retaining the customers’ context, but also to determine the next best action, information or process to proactively engage with the customer.
This approach is typically referred to as “persistent predictive automation.” It can be thought of as a concierge service where the organization establishes processes to proactively reach out to the customers to assist them when there is information or advice to deliver. A holistic approach like this can often differentiate an organization from the competition.
Vice President & Practice Leader, Customer Experience, Verint Systems:
The most important thing for leaders to keep in mind is that it is a journey and not a destination. You need to identify what your customers are doing today, but also continually monitor and understand what channels they’re using on a periodic basis.
The channels are changing. Think about the interactions that you’re conducting on your smartphone today, and what you’re doing with chat and SMS—these are things that you may not have thought possible five years ago. Who knows what new channels will be added in the next few years? Look at the rise of wearable technology—there are many different ways for us to interact that we didn’t even think about several years ago.
If you think you have an omnichannel strategy today, that’s great—but don’t think that it’s going to stay the same for a long period of time because the technology is changing and people’s preferences are changing. You have to keep on top of what the channels are, how they change and how they’re going to evolve.
Vice President, Product Marketing & Solutions, Five9:
First, this is absolutely inevitable. Don’t fight it. You need to figure out how to do it.
Second, it affects your bottom line. You’ve got to do it in order to become competitive. You need to be looking at how you can make this happen, because your competitors are.
There is a great study by Watermark Consulting (The 2014 Customer Experience ROI Study) that compared seven years of stock performance for customer experience leaders versus laggards. They found that the leaders increased their stock price by 77% while, for laggards, it declined by 2.5%. Forrester conducted a similar study. So the data bears it out—if you invest in this, it does affect your bottom line. You have to be able to present that business case to your executives.
Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Genesys:
Think about a comprehensive channel approach rather than a point solution. You can get to a certain level of optimization with a point solution, but that only solves part of the customer’s problem, and they’re going to continue to interact over other channels.
Sometimes the new channel solution is a very shiny object, so beware of overinvesting in it. For instance, would you rather have the best chat point solution or be able to ensure that you can pass along the information contained in that chat so that the next interaction, no matter which channel, is informed about that last interaction?
Director, Global Contact Center Consulting, Interactive Intelligence:
It must be viewed from the customer experience perspective. Too many omnichannel strategies fail because they were approached as technology projects, focused on contact avoidance, assumed a customer desire that did not exist, attempted to drive complex or emotional interactions to unsuitable channels and a myriad of other reasons all related to lack of due diligence. This stuff is complex. Don’t underestimate the level of effort required to do it right.
Innovation Center Manager, Calabrio:
Omnichannel is ALL about customer service. The focus of omnichannel for company leaders shouldn’t be the technology behind it, but on servicing the customer. Omnichannel is communicating in the mode in which a customer is coming to you, and understanding how you should respond. Agents/staff must be able to provide that service to the customer, and deliver a consistent service experience regardless of mode.
To read the full Q&A panel with more insights on the omnichannel evolution and how it will impact your center, download the article here.