A 2019 survey found that companies with strong omnichannel engagement strategies enjoyed 90% higher customer retention rates and 250% higher engagement and purchase rates than companies who ignored such strategies. Another survey discovered that a majority of customers used 3 to 5 channels to contact customer service, including voice, email, live chat, self-service, and social media.
Following the COVID-19 crisis, these trends are putting down even stronger roots. Before the pandemic, companies processed on average 1.5 million customer conversations per year through digital channels. In the tumultuous post-COVID world, customer interaction volumes are spiking and business continuity has become a huge pain point, which means that the need for omnichannel contact center capabilities is greater than ever.
With an omnichannel contact center at the heart of their long-term customer service strategy, firms can understand their customers’ needs, create meaningful engagements, and consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences.
To this end, here are 7 key capabilities they should look for.
1. Unified, User-Friendly User Interface
Unlike a traditional or multichannel contact center, an omnichannel contact center incorporates a critical element into its operations – customer context. Bypassing the context between channels, an omnichannel setup ensures that agents always have the most updated information about their customers’ preferences, contact information, and buying history.
Agents should understand this context and quickly access all underlying information to make every interaction meaningful. Here’s where a unified, all-in-one interface is critical. When agents don’t have to waste time searching for information in different places, they can focus on the customer and their needs. They can also quickly add communication channels (e.g. voice to chat, or self-service to email) to help resolve customers’ issues faster and better.
2. Intelligent Routing
An omnichannel contact center should be prepared to “meet” customers where they really “live” so it should route interactions to the right team, agent, or channel. It should link customer data from all interaction sources and decide the next-best actions after analyzing customers’ inquiries. The routing may involve redirecting the customer to a chatbot for FAQs, a live human agent for more complex queries, or any appropriate channel.
Ultimately, intelligent omnichannel routing results in quick solutions to customer problems without making them hold or passing them on to multiple departments – two events that customers don’t appreciate. Customers appreciate these advantages and reward the organization with their loyalty and trust.
3. Seamless Integration With Internal And Third-Party Apps
Right integration among the different channels of the omnichannel platform is critical. When new service channels pop up, they must be integrated into the environment to ensure that they work together to provide seamless customer service, without inefficient ‘silos’ and without causing business downtime.
According to one survey, 69% of customers use private/external social messaging apps to contact customer service. That’s why integrating such apps into the omnichannel platform is very important. Such integrations enable faster and personalized communications, which improves customer service delivery and ultimately boosts CSAT.
Integration helps the omnichannel contact center leverage the data and capabilities of other enterprise applications such as CRM or ERP. Agents have easy access to customers, products, inventory, pricing, and any other relevant information to help customers instantly.
4. Artificial Intelligence
According to one research study, 50% of organizations that used AI for their customer engagement initiatives successfully achieved revenue increases and cost decreases compared to organizations that didn’t use AI. The study also found that when organizations use AI with omnichannel, customer ratings improve by 104%.
AI-powered automation, voice agents, and chatbots can capture customer interactions and help guide more meaningful conversations. They can also ease the strain on support agents to do their best work as they help improve customer experiences and CSAT. AI can even flag unhappy customers and route them to a supervisor or manager so that agents quickly get the right help, as do customers. AI also plays a substantial role in helping omnichannel contact centers maintain business continuity. For example, AI-based virtual agents can work 24/7, which ensures that the customer support pipeline keeps moving, even if human agents are unavailable.
5. Social Listening
The importance of social media for brand-building, reputation management, and delivering memorable omnichannel experiences cannot be ignored. One survey found that globally, 54% of respondents had a more favorable view of brands that responded to customer service questions or social media complaints. Another study discovered that the average consumer mentions brands on social media 90 times per week. These findings drive home the point that being active on social media should be a necessary element of the omnichannel customer service strategy.
“Social listening” enables the contact center to keep an eye on social media posts and quickly address their customers’ needs. They can track social “chatter” and take part in conversations about their brand to understand what customers feel about it and take action when necessary.
6. Cloud Architecture
Gartner reports that 35% of the customer experience workforce will work from home by 2023, up from a tiny 5% just three years ago. This is unsurprising because, in the wake of COVID-19, many omnichannel contact centers have already added a “virtual” component to their workforce. This includes both AI-based chatbots and human agents working from home. And this is where rigid on-premise omnichannel setups need to give way to a flexible and scalable cloud-based architecture.
Cloud technology offers benefits like cost reduction, increased uptime, improved compliance, and data security. Every element of the contact center’s omnichannel infrastructure can be unified in the cloud – from voice, email and chat, to mobile, social media, and even AI. With this low-risk option, an omnichannel contact center gets more flexibility for its day-to-day operations and can strategically support its business continuity plan.
7. Data Monitoring and Reporting
Omnichannel service interactions can be effortless if they “follow” every customer from channel to channel and collect data along the way. This data could include their contact details, account details, complete interaction or buying history, and anything else that can help deliver better customer experiences.
A true omnichannel platform monitors data across every channel and pulls information from other connected systems for easy and centralized reporting and analysis. Timestamps, filters, dashboards, and other intelligent features can help the contact center connect with customers in more meaningful ways and offer personalized help on their preferred channel.
For supervisors and managers, data provides comprehensive insights into contact center performance to gauge their success at meeting KPIs related to CSAT, FCR, AHT, hold times, abandonment rates, etc., and take necessary actions if performance is falling below identified benchmarks. Quick actions are a hallmark of business continuity, so monitoring and reporting tools can support this goal as well.
In a challenging post-COVID world, the seven capabilities discussed here can empower the contact center and even the organization to maintain business continuity while offering unified and meaningful customer experiences. That’s why it’s worth investing in these capabilities sooner rather than later.
For over a decade, contact centers have relied on CXInfinity’s digital omnichannel customer engagement platform to deliver world-class customers experiences. Crafted for high performance, these focused solutions make customer care a delight, even in a challenging post-COVID landscape.