Omnichannel Contact Center
According to McKinsey, customers use anywhere from three to five communication channels on their path to resolving a customer service request.
Businesses need to offer multiple ways for their customers to reach them for help, or else customers might become frustrated and turn to competitors who offer their preferred channels.
Today, we’ll help you understand what an omnichannel contact center is, why it’s so effective, how it differs from multichannel, and how to use this approach to customer service to improve your customer experience.
What is an omnichannel contact center?
An omnichannel contact center is a business division where agents manage inbound and outbound customer interactions across a variety of integrated channels and guide customers to the most efficient resolution.
The most typical channels include phone call, video call, email, text, live chat, and self-service options like interactive voice response (IVR) or FAQ pages.
Below are some of the defining elements of an omnichannel contact center:
- Integrated channels and systems: All channels and systems (software, apps, tools) share data. So regardless of which channel an agent uses, they can see all relevant information. Most contact center solutions make integration simple with prebuilt APIs.
- Automated contact routing: Based on a customer’s data and rules you’ve set up, omnichannel contact centers make intelligent decisions about which agent is best suited to help a customer.
- Constant customer data collection: As customers interact with your brand via different channels, their behavior, words, and actions are saved and easily viewable.
To reduce the legwork that comes with doing the above manually, most businesses power their omnichannel contact centers on the internet with a cloud contact center solution.
Equipped with software, contact center agents can access all channels and swiftly switch between them on one interface. Agents can also view customer data, such as past interactions, which allows them to quickly get up to speed on the customer’s situation and provide fast and personalized resolutions.
Overall, customer service departments that use an omnichannel contact center are better positioned to meet the ever-evolving demands of their customers.
How does an omnichannel contact center work?
An omnichannel contact center works to improve agent productivity and customer satisfaction by bringing each communication channel and its respective data into one easy-to-navigate online dashboard.
So customers can reach out to agents in whichever manner they prefer, and when they do, the agent can easily view the customer’s personal details (name, job title, product tier, etc.), a transcript of their past interactions with the brand, and even relevant touch points along their customer journey, from e-books the customer downloaded to their recent purchases.
For example, if an agent receives a call from a customer named Sophia, the agent can quickly pull up her information and see that, a week ago, she chatted with another agent about her issue with a feature of her newly purchased water filter.
Because the agent can review the past interaction and pick up where they left off, Sophia doesn’t have to repeat herself. Because the channels are integrated, the agent can also do things like recommend they switch to a video call where they can visually demonstrate how to use the product’s feature.
Cases like this illustrate how an omnichannel contact center’s characteristics of channel flexibility and unified customer data greatly enhance the customer experience.
Difference between omnichannel and multichannel contact centers
Multichannel and omnichannel contact centers are similar in that they both offer multiple ways for agents and customers to communicate.
The major difference between the two is that multichannel contact centers do not have unified, integrated channels, whereas omnichannel contact centers do.
An agent working within a multichannel contact center who answers a phone call would not be able to see the customer’s past email messages. That data is siloed off in the email system and not visible in the call software.
If the agent worked at an omnichannel contact center, they would be able to see all relevant interactions and historical data that’s been collected across all channels because each system shares its information with every other system.
For more on the differences between the two types of contact centers, check out our guide on omnichannel and multichannel contact centers.
Benefits of an omnichannel contact center
From happier customer service agents to decreased customer churn, businesses receive numerous benefits from implementing omnichannel contact centers.
Below are some of the advantages your business will see:
- Reduced agent attrition: Agents often leave because the work is just too draining. The average attrition rate is 42%. However, when you reduce the number of unhappy customers and empower agents to succeed, they feel happier at work.
- Improved flexibility: You can tailor your customer communication to the situation. If all that is required is a text, you can do that instead of playing phone tag and talking on the phone.
- Decreased customer churn: When customers are able to connect with you in whichever way they prefer and have personalized experiences, they’ll be less likely to leave you for a competitor.
- Increased visibility: Thanks to integrated channel data and the analytics tools found in contact center solutions, you can easily run reports on your team’s performance to spot trends and bottlenecks — insights that will help you improve.
And here are some of the major benefits your customers will experience:
- Shorter wait periods:An omnichannel approach enables you to allocate resources and agents efficiently, allow for self-service, and quickly help customers.
- Faster resolutions: Since agents have access to all historical data about customers, they can pick up where the customer last left off and resolve the issue quickly.
- Access to more options: Customers can reach out through whichever channel they find most suitable for their needs or their personality.
- More personalized experience: Because agents have access to their previous interactions and personal information, customers feel like the brand cares about them as an individual.
That said, if you want to take your customer service department to the next level, creating an omnichannel contact center is an excellent first step.
Who should use an omnichannel contact center?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a large or small business, product-based or service-based, B2C or B2B. An omnichannel contact center is likely a smart choice for your customer service team.
This form of contact center streamlines and personalizes the customer support process, thereby giving customers a seamless experience with your brand, even during contentious situations like product malfunctions or incorrect charges.
A few of the industries that are embracing omnichannel contact centers include retail, e-commerce, tourism and travel, logistics and supply chain, and real estate.
Some use cases include companies wanting to decrease churn, improve customer behavior analytics, and foster better working environments for their agents.
Compared to call center or multichannel contact center software, omnichannel contact center solutions also provide far more customer-satisfying features, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Features of effective omnichannel contact center software
Omnichannel contact center software gives you access to multiple, integrated communication channels, data analytics tools, and various other features designed to help your team provide exceptional customer experiences.
Below are features to look for when evaluating omnichannel contact center software:
- Multiple channels: From one platform, agents can use multiple channels, including voice, chat, text messaging, and more.
- Channel switching: Agents can change channels midconversation without causing a disturbance or creating a new ticket.
- Intelligent contact routing: You can create rules and workflows that intelligently route customers to the most appropriate agent for their given situation.
- Self-service options: Interactive voice response and AI-powered chatbots empower customers to self-assist, thereby freeing up time for your agents to tackle more complicated needs.
- Unified agent desktop: At a glance, agents can see helpful information like a customer’s conversational timeline, CRM data, past agent notes and customer dispositions, and current sentiment.
- Reporting and analytics: A live activity dashboard, automated customer feedback requests, and prebuilt reports help you monitor team-wide and individual performance as well as uncover bottlenecks in your customer service process.
- Monitoring and coaching: Set up metrics and KPIs to track and record agents’ calls so that you can help them improve.
Because it’s hosted by a third-party and designed for nontechies, omnichannel contact center software like Contacto makes it impressively easy and affordable to implement an omnichannel approach.
Strategies to improve CX with an omnichannel contact center
When you have an omnichannel contact center, you can deploy many strategies to improve the overall customer experience in a cost-effective manner.
One of the most impactful strategies is enabling agents with real-time collaboration via software. Contact center software often comes with features that help agents find answers and get help during their conversations with customers.
For example, many offer call whispering, where an agent can ask for someone on their team to hop in the call and provide support. The assisting agent can hear the customer and talk to the agent, but the customer cannot hear the assisting agent.
An omnichannel contact center solution will also typically enable you to create templated answers or automated suggestions that reps can access during chat or email conversations. That way agents always provide a great response that is based on your team’s best practices.
But agent-enablement is just scratching the surface. Here are some other strategies you can use to enhance the customer experience:
- Build optimized customer journeys: Using behavioral data, create customer journeys that will satisfy customers. For your typical requests, decide when it’s best for a customer to see an agent or stay with the chatbot or IVR.
- Personalize every touch point: Train your agents to leverage CRM and historical data to make the customer feel like they’re talking to someone who already knows them.
- Collect feedback and adjust: Consistently request feedback from customers and monitor their preferences with an eye for dissatisfaction. And adjust your protocols to meet newfound needs, whether that means adding a new channel or sending people from IVR to a real agent earlier in the process for a specific issue.
An omnichannel contact center is a powerful tool when it comes to helping your customers. If you implement the above strategies, you’ll certainly receive an outstanding response from them, whether that’s in the form of positive online reviews or increases in retention rates.
Omnichannel contact center best practices
As the adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Here are some best practices to follow when running an omnichannel contact center that will help you get the most out of this approach and its technology.
- Use a cloud contact center solution: This software enables agents to access all your contact center channels and features from anywhere, as long as they have internet. It also saves you time that otherwise would have been spent on maintaining and updating systems since the third-party provider is responsible for the software’s operation.
- Leverage AI functionality: AI-powered chatbots and IVR can pull customer data like past orders or delivery status to provide customers with a fast resolution to their issues.
- Provide consistent service across all channels: Train and coach all agents on your team’s overall customer service philosophy and on each channel so that customers have a wonderful experience regardless of how they interact with your brand.
It’s also crucial that you never let technology get in the way of human-to-human interactions, which, more than anything else, have the power to connect your customers with your brand on an emotional level.
Omnichannel contact centers can help you improve your customer experience, increase agent productivity, and use data to consistently work toward optimizing your company’s customer service performance.
Of course, adopting a new approach to customer service can be difficult, especially if you’ve been doing it another way for a long time. Fortunately, certain tools out there make it easy to change.
Designed with agents in mind, simple-to-use cloud contact center software like Contacto can be rolled out in a matter of days so that your agents can start impressing customers across multiple channels as soon as possible.
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