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How can you consistently meet customer expectations by providing the best possible customer service during each interaction? To deliver the seamless experience that customers expect, your agents need to be available on the channels that customers prefer, whether that means web chat, phone call, email, social media, or SMS.
An omni channel contact center integrates all of these service channels into one coherent platform that boosts agent productivity and satisfies customers. Above all, the omni channel approach is about enabling convenience on both sides of every customer interaction: Customers get to select the service channels through which they want to connect, while contact center agents get a consolidated real-time view of the customer and are able to more easily provide answers.
An omni channel contact center is a contact center that combines all of the major communication channels an organization’s customers use into one integrated and cohesive platform, one that is easy for customers to access and for agents to navigate. It can handle interactions at each stage of the customer journey, from initial product consideration through ongoing support.
“Omni” comes from a Latin root meaning “all,” and true to its name, an omni channel contact center is built to be all-encompassing. It not only supports numerous channels but also creates context between them, like in this hypothetical sequence:
Omni channel contact centers support all modern digital channels — live chat, social media, voice, email, and text message —and they are usually based in the cloud for maximum scalability and flexibility. An omni channel customer experience may span multiple channels, like in the above example, or involve just a single channel that the customer prefers.
Like the omni channel customer experiences they deliver, omni channel contact center solutions are seamlessly integrated and designed for convenience. Though omni channel customer contact platforms vary, they generally have at least the following core capabilities:
Omni channel solutions let agents see everything relevant about customer interactions across different channels, in real time. With Telesystem Omni Channel Contact Center, for instance, agents can see all of this information in a single pane of glass, without needing multiple monitors to accommodate a bunch of separate windows. This setup also lets call center agents switch between multiple channels to suit the customer’s preference, boosting agent productivity and improving customer service experiences. All communications channels are managed from one place, similar to unified communications solutions. This solution saves time compared to the discrete, separately managed channels of older call centers.
Where should a customer’s phone call, text message, email, or social media post actually go? An omni channel experience depends on the inbound communication going to the best available human agent or other resource at the current moment. Omni channel routing will analyze each customer service inquiry, provide supporting context around it, and then decide where to send it. Such routing may involve chatbots and FAQs for certain types of interactions that might not require the intervention of a live agent, along with escalation as needed for more complex questions. It might also use IVR for precise user verification. No matter the exact flow of the customer interaction, customers should be able to switch between channels in an omni channel platform without needing to repeat much or any information, which is a common source of frustration. Overall, omni channel routing leads to quicker and more satisfactory answers to customer inquiries.
Many customers prefer to text businesses instead of calling them. Compared to email, SMS also offers higher response and open rates as well a quicker response times, making it as beneficial for organizations as it is for customers. When a customer texts an organization, the omni channel contact center can use keywords to perform accurate routing and then let contract center agents respond to messages via two-way texting. Agents can also communicate via live chat and email. For chat, an omni channel platform may integrate a variety of common messaging services, including Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter Direct Messages, among other options. Meanwhile, email interactions benefit from the same keyword analytics and routing that shape other communication channels.
Omni channel contact centers give organizations the ability to see what customers are saying about them on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. In addition to this social listening, an omni channel approach may enable direct routing of a customer interaction from a social media page to a contact or call center. Considering how central social media has become to the customer journey — more than one-quarter of people ages 16-64 use it for product research, per studies from GlobalWebIndex and Facebook — it should be deeply incorporated into customer service workflows, which is possible in omni channel contact centers.
Contact center agents and their managers benefit from the comprehensive visibility within an omni channel solution. The dashboards in an omni channel contact center may provide centralized insights into specific topics and channels, agent performance, and historical trends. This data can in turn help in making decisions about what topics to prioritize in terms of agent coaching and updates to resources such as knowledge bases.
Omni channel contact centers aren’t the same as multichannel contact centers, although there are some similarities.
A multichannel contact center is simply any contact center in which there is more than one communications channel. For example, an aging call center that recently added digital channels like live chat would technically qualify as a multichannel contact center, but not as an omni channel one, because it lacks:
These limitations have tangible costs.
Most importantly, a customer navigating a multichannel contact center might run into problems with having to repeat information to agents on different channels. The Salesforce State of Service report has consistently found that consumers are frustrated by multichannel service experiences, with 76% of them expecting consistent interactions but 53% saying that it felt like teams don't share information and that the experience wasn’t personalized.
In contrast, omni channel contact centers provide a more integrated experience that not only incorporates multiple channels but also applies a consistent logic and technical infrastructure to them. All channels flow through the same routing architecture. Moreover, customers should feel the difference in having all channels connected in this way. Their omni channel customer experience should be one in which they don’t have to frequently repeat the same information and can feel like the contact center agent knows them to some degree, based on historical data about previous interactions.
Ultimately, an omni channel contact center is worth adopting because it facilitates better customer service and outreach, which in turn fuels competitive advantage.
To break down the benefits more granularly, the top reasons for taking an omni channel approach include: