Omni-channel may sound like multi-channel with bells on, but it’s more than just a simple buzzword. Has your contact centre made the move yet?
At the time the term “omni-channel” entered the customer service lexicon, most industry professionals were still getting to grips with its predecessor, multi-channel. It should be no surprise, then, that many continue to see it as little more than an outgrowth of that. When they think omni-channel, they think multi-channel with panache.
And yet it’s so much more than that. omni-channel isn’t just multi-channel with better information-sharing – it’s a whole new way of building a relationship between consumer and brand, and one that’s becoming more and more important as the digital revolution gathers pace.
Last month, a survey from Xerox found that 54 per cent of consumers would be willing to part with more of their cash in return for a higher quality of customer care from their preferred brands. In an age where mobile and self-service are expected as standard, omni-channel is a key way for contact centres to deliver an exceptional level of service.
So what, exactly, is the difference between omni-channel and multi-channel? And how can you move your contact centre from one model to the other? Read on for a quick primer.
Omni-channel demands a 360-degree view of the customer
The phrase “360-degree view of the customer” is a bit of a buzzword, too, but it does a good job of describing the fundamental difference between omni-channel and multi-channel: the former is customer-focused and channel-agnostic, whereas the latter was channel-focused.
In the multi-channel paradigm, success meant being able to deal with one problem using your call centre, another through your mobile app, another in social media and so on. To make the move to omni-channel, you need to stop thinking in silos about the support pages on your website or the specific call centre software you use. The customer should come first, and you should recognise them as a single person regardless of channel.
You need to be where your customers are
Following on from this, the channels you use should be chosen in response to the customer’s wants and needs. If a person raises an issue via Twitter, it makes little sense to ask them to call an agent or download a native app for their smartphone – you should attempt to solve the problem then and there, and only reroute them to another channel if the issue is complex enough to justify the change in tack.
Omni-channel needs to be seamless and consistent
Finally, the easiest thing to grasp about omni-channel is that it should be seamless and consistent. When the customer makes the leap from one channel to another – from a community forum to a call with an agent, for example – there should be no noticeable disconnect. The agent should know exactly where they are in their journey, what their query is and why it hasn’t been solved yet.
This is one of the most difficult parts of omni-channel to get right, because a lot of legacy call centre software wasn’t designed to support this kind of information-sharing. With more modern, cloud-based software like Aspect Zipwire, however, tasks like CRM integration and omni-channel routing become a whole lot simpler.
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