Better Service Requires an Omnichannel Contact Center

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While almost all businesses (96 percent) understand the importance of having an omnichannel contact center, many are still striving toward that goal, according to the latest research from Contact Center Week Digital.

Along those same lines, customers in 2019 continued to complain about having trouble finding the right channel to engage with companies, multiple transfers between channels, long wait times, and the need to repeat information when transferred from one agent to another or from one channel to another, CCW finds.

These problems are only growing throughout 2020 as companies struggle to accommodate increased customer contact volume.

CCW’s research also finds that a full 87 percent of companies plan to offer customers true channel choice, but most aren’t there yet.

To help companies in that endeavor, CCW analyst Matt Wujciak, author of the report, offers six basic steps in the development.

The first is to understand the importance of the voice channel and human factors like empathy during interactions.

“Human connection through the voice channel is the most efficient way to achieve personalized care, increase customer service, and [optimize] retention rates,” Wujciak says.

Agents struggle to deliver, though, because often they need to toggle between screens and applications or lack access to artificial intelligence during calls. As a result, they need to take notes, slowing call handling time and decreasing customer satisfaction scores.

Wujciak also advises companies to incorporate live chat into their channel mix. Though many companies have chatbots, many of those are used on only a single channel rather than across channels, leading to fragmented contact centers.

Omnichannel, cloud-based chatbots better enable contact centers to share rich media across channels to give customers all of the information they need in a single location via automated self-service, CCW says. These chatbots can also be outfitted to deliver personalized dialogues and brand inclusion, allow companies to connect with customers regardless of location, and offload most mundane calls so agents can focus on tasks requiring human interaction.

Wujciak also suggests extracting data from email, calling it a gold mine. From email, companies can track how and when customers engage with messages and the types of messages they prefer. Hashed emails provide valuable data about subscribers and their unique habits and needs.

It’s also important to incorporate social media marketing and customer service, according to Wujciak. Social listening enables companies to determine where customers are spending time online and to track and analyze internet conversations that mention them and their brands. Individual comments aren’t as important as customer patterns and trends, which Wujciak says will make customer data more actionable. As a result, companies can improve not only their service and support but also their marketing efforts.

“It’s vital that a customer interaction that starts on a social platform can easily transition to another channel in your contact center and transition back as needed,” Wujciak said.

An equally important channel is SMS messaging, which Wujciak says is one of the best ways for companies to take advantage of consumers’ high mobile usage. He points to the more than 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, with 48 percent of them using their devices for search and 80 percent of searches resulting in purchases.

SMS messaging can play a huge role in increasing sales, he adds, and the results can be quickly realized, as text messages tend to be opened immediately (usually within three minutes of receipt).

Consumers also respond well to messages that contain some kind of call to action, so Wujciak suggests creating videos that incorporate a call to action. Video, he says, offers benefits not available via text or audio, but to be most effective it should be used across channels.

It’s also critical that videos be compressed as much as possible to capture the limited and fleeting attention of modern consumers. “The beginning of each video is crucial for driving clicks and, ultimately, converting those clicks into sales. When we have a definitive call-to-action plan, such as user experience-friendly hyperlinks, displayed in the video message, we create a viable stream for more traffic, click-through rates, consumer interest, and trackable and actionable data for an IT or customer service department to aggregate,” Wujciak says. 

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