Try Omnichannel… Again


Try Omnichannel in Your Contact Center Again

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This lovely phrase we all learned as children could come in handy right about now! Omnichannel (OC) is not new, or untried, but it is still an elusive goal for most centers.

We are in at least the second generation or naming convention. Multichannel came first, and if we’re being honest, it had the same goals (“seamless, integrated” customer experience in the channels of choice). Cross-channel was thrown in there by some. Whatever we call it, it has proved hard, for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean we give up or settle for a hodgepodge of solutions or channel gaps.

The Evolution to Omnichannel

So how do you get it right?

Start with a (fresh) vision. What should your omnichannel look like? Try a “phoenix” exercise if you can, defining what things would look like if you were starting from scratch, rising from the ashes of your current mix of channels and tools. Engage all channel owners across your ecosystem (CC, marketing, digital channels, IT). Consider various perspectives—Customers, Agents, Supervisors, Administrators, Analysts for WFM, QM, Reporting and Analytics.

Themes like visibility, access and common tools quickly emerge and align with that “seamless, integrated” mantra. Define what the vision and themes mean from a technology perspective, as well as people and processes.

With a vision in mind, you can create an inventory of your current state—channels and tools. Start with the routing and reporting tools for various channels. Then think about related tools—CRM, KM, WFM, QM, Analytics, etc. Observe the number and diversity of tools, and the gaping holes. Explore the challenges your current environment creates and how it falls short of your vision. Identify what you must use, what you could replace or retire (and when), and what gaps exist. And don’t forget to address the security needs for each channel (e.g., email and chat only when logged in on the portal for financial services).

Define a technology path to move in the direction of your vision, addressing the challenges and gaps identified. Few can truly rebuild, but you can get on a cohesive path instead of just adding the next channel in isolation. Recognize there are options for OC routing and reporting, as shown in the figure below. The first option is nirvana—all channels managed in one tool. If CRM plays a big role in your center and if you want to use it to manage digital channels, look for technologies that integrate with it. If you’re stuck using a separate routing engine for each channel, don’t feel alone. Make the most of it short term. However, to truly pursue OC, you need to start cleaning up the mess.

There are multiple paths to omnichannel, with distinct trade-offs and keys to success

Unless you have a green field or a big project, you’ll need to create a phased plan, outlining the technology changes or additions. Transform your current state inventory to a more cohesive OC environment with some combination of:

  • Buy new
  • Add Features
  • Upgrade
  • Integrate
  • Consolidate

Don’t forget the associated process and people changes, looking within the contact center, but also across your organizational ecosystem. It will be a journey to true OC, but it’s not too late to start and it is definitely time to get started… again.