The way brands and customer service providers interact with consumers gets more efficient but also more complex as new technologies are being developed.
Gone are the times when people contact a company using a single channel. Customers now choose from several options—email, live chat, social media, voice, and face-to-face interactions—to talk to brand representatives. Across these platforms, they expect the same level of efficiency and convenience.
Brands, of course, must make the most of this opportunity so they can reach more people and provide them a memorable customer experience. As technology blurs geographic boundaries and time differences at a fast pace, entrepreneurs must strive to keep up with the changes.
However, building and implementing an omnichannel strategy for customer support are complex tasks. Call center managers, together with brand owners, must look at their omnichannel system as a whole rather than as separate units. This outlook will serve as the foundation of a successful multichannel approach.
For a holistic view of the multichannel experience, consider these three primary elements.
It’s not enough to have an array of customer service platforms under your belt. What customers really want is a seamless experience. This means that brands must be able to handle cross-device conversations—those that take place across multiple devices. For example, customers may contact brands using social media and then later send an email to follow up on their requests. In such cases, agents must be able to keep track of the previous conversation threads that have taken place in other channels.
To do this, brands must focus on the following steps:
• Organizing the escalation procedures. In the call center, escalation processes entail transferring a conversation from one platform to another. This happens when the channel being used doesn’t match the type of customer query being raised. For example, unique and complex problems are better solved through phone calls, where agents can provide detailed instructions. Escalation may also mean transferring a transaction from an agent to a manager or supervisor, depending on the level of authority required to make the necessary decisions to solve a customers’ problems.
• Integrating the front and back office. The front office consists of people who directly interact with customers, whereas the back handles the knowledge, marketing, and logistical functions that keep the contact center running. Connecting these two will allow everyone—from agents to managers—to access the information they need to provide the services needed by customers.
• Fixing customer support bottlenecks. To make the customer experience hassle-free, you should look at the pain points that slow down your services. Analyze what’s preventing your omnichannel strategy from smoothly running by conducting surveys among customers and employees. Using the results, you can formulate solutions to eliminate these bottlenecks.
2. People and management
To successfully implement an omnichannel customer service, the agents in your team must have a special set of skills. Aside from tech-savviness, they must be able to think critically, research well, and adapt to changing scenarios quickly. The ability to personalize conversations with customers is also a must, as a way to differentiate the brands they represent from other companies.
Organizations must therefore change the way they hire their people, ensuring that new employees are truly fit for customer support roles. This means evaluating not just applicants’ technical skills and knowledge but also their soft skills.
In addition, contact centers can’t afford to have teams who aren’t coordinating effectively with one another. This will result in knowledge gaps and low employee engagement, both of which have negative effects on performance.
To keep agents productive, call center managers must encourage a people-focused culture. Their task is to enrich employees’ potential by establishing clear career paths, acknowledging good performance, and providing training opportunities designed to challenge and hone employees’ skills.
3. Technology and tools
Deploying multiple customer support channels isn’t just a way to provide customers what they truly want. Having an omnichannel strategy also lets organizations collect massive amounts of consumer insights. These insights may then be used to support and improve existing processes.
To optimize your omnichannel customer service, your processes must be carried out by advanced call center technologies. A powerful customer relationship management (CRM) system allows brands to gather, manage, and analyze customer interactions and data so they can be made accessible across departments. The database built through this tool then assists agents in delivering customer care and provides managers a sound basis for business development.
In this process, boosting your organization’s data analytics functions will be a big help. Tools that analyze raw data such as speech recognizers, statistical software, and others can automate some aspects of data analysis. This way, instead of handling raw and disorganized information, you’ll be dealing with pre-processed information, making the entire process easier.