With phone contact falling from a total of 3/4 of interactions in 2007 to less than 2/3 in 2021, it’s clear that traditional call centers are no longer the beating heart of customer experience.
While call centers were once the front line of customer care, today’s communication landscape is a patchwork of email, online chat, AI-powered bots and social media, all brought together with a cloud contact center. And although inbound calls will remain, there’s certainly growing negativity surrounding outbound calls, often branded a nuisance or met with suspicion due to the rise in telephone fraud.
The answer to meeting evolving customer demands and keeping up with today’s digital natives is omnichannel. Multichannel is simply not enough, so a unified approach is necessary in order to keep your customers coming back. If you’re looking to elevate your brand with an omnichannel shopping journey, here are the steps you need to take to make it happen.
1. Move to a cloud contact center
Taking your contact hub over to the cloud is essential in the current climate. The cloud market was already fast-developing, but COVID-19 has accelerated this even more. The rise of the remote workforce has meant adopting cloud technologies earlier than planned for a lot of companies, and the outcome has been largely positive.
The pandemic has indeed highlighted the power of cloud, and cloud contact center solutions are leading the way in efficiency, productivity and performance. Choosing the right technology partner is key though, as the best platform will deliver seamless omnichannel routing to help you meet changing customer needs.
Furthermore, cloud-based technologies allow you to operate in any location and any time zone. You can hire agents from anywhere in the world, giving them effortless access and connectivity. With the increasing number of at-home agents and growing employee desire for flexible working, cloud is the only way to future-proof your business.
2. Provide support for remote teams
Simply connecting to the cloud isn’t enough if you want to make your omnichannel offering work to its full potential. The problem a lot of companies face is disparate ways of working when it comes to managing the distributed team. Often seen as a separate workforce, it can be easy to overlook remote worker needs. But every single agent is an extension of your brand, and therefore should receive the same level of support from above.
Do they have access to the same resources? Are important customer insights being shared with them? Do they have goals and targets to work towards? Are they engaged and motivated? Through the cloud, it’s possible to connect everyone, regardless of geographical location, so retailers should embrace data to enhance multichannel performance.
Reporting and analytics is the area to focus on if you want your teams to understand customer trends across all channels. Help them see the bigger picture and keep them involved in your in-house activity, and you’ll be able to build an informed front line that have the tools to work together.
3. Make it easy to collaborate
Training your teams in omnichannel delivery is more than just getting them up to speed with different modes of communication. It requires a shift in attitude – ultimately, a change in work culture – because collaboration is a vital step in the journey.
Your customers don’t care if your social media team isn’t the same as your call center staff. They don’t care if every single agent in your organization is working from home, without direct access to one another. They see your brand as one single entity. Therefore, if they told Bob on Facebook that they haven’t received their order, they expect Sarah on the helpline to know about it.
A joined up approach to customer contact is vital for today’s demanding millennial or Gen Z shopper. They want seamless interactions, and they hate repeating themselves or wasting precious minutes talking to multiple agents. Research by NICEinContact tells us that 72% of shoppers now expect companies to know their purchase history, regardless of method of communication (eg: phone, chat, social or email). This makes collaboration key in ensuring customers are satisfied.
4. Use bots to free up your agents
Research shows that workers with a high level of engagement have 22% higher productivity. But there are many other benefits of improving employee engagement, including better workplace performance, lower absenteeism, increased loyalty and higher staff retention. All of these things contribute to a better contact center facility, with more satisfied customers in an omnichannel world.
This is why freeing up your agents is important if you want them to manage multiple channels successfully. Chatbots are a great low-cost way to do this, ensuring your customers are looked after at any time of day. They’re ideal for answering simple queries, providing speedy resolutions without taking up agent time.
The same NICEinContact report reveals that while 67% of customers prefer human agents, 33% prefer self-service. And with today’s advancements in conversational AI, it’s easy to reduce the workload of employees, giving them more time to focus on high-quality interactions.
5. Use data to empower your workforce
In order to create a fully-functioning omnichannel contact center, one that delights the customer no matter how they decide to get in touch, data has to be at the heart of what you do. From customer data, you can learn more about what makes them tick, spot important channel trends, and discover which channels work best for which demographic.
By looking at interaction analytics, you can improve decision-making, hone your staff training, take faster action to resolve issues, and create role-tailored information to empower your workers. Data can also help you eradicate siloed business processes – one of the biggest factors holding companies back.
Omnichannel delivers lower cost per interaction, which can be further reduced through automation, data and smarter ways of working. By ensuring your team is informed, you can help them improve first contact and retain customers proactively.
The shift from multichannel to omnichannel is upon us, and will be the foundation for optimizing customer experience. To carry out all these steps, businesses must choose the right technology partner. A complete cloud contact center solution can bring platforms and people together; and AI and automation, analytics and seamless channel routing will be the heart of your operation.