Hello, I am iRis, your iCXeed concierge. Ask me anything about iCXeed, provide a quotation for service, schedule a meeting, or subscribe to our newsletter.

Omni-Channel Customer Experience: Streamlining Interactions Across All Channels

Article Reading Time: 7.5 - 12 minutes. read

Written by

Dan Fresco

IT Director, iCXeed

Published on

March 20, 2023

Share

The Transformation of Customer Experience with Technology 

As technology continues to advance, the way that we must be prepared to interact with our customer has evolved considerably.  Think about.  Forty years ago, the primary channel of communication was the telephone.  Computers were still in their infancy and messaging was limited to pagers that could only display numeric characters.  Everything came through the phone, even fax machines relied on phone lines.    

In the context of customer experience, contact centers were an innovation.  Prior to the emergence of contact centers, customers were reliant on interacting with regional or branch offices for customer support.  Most interactions could not be successfully resolved over the phone, so a physical appearance may have been required for the interaction.  Contact centers changed this by centralizing customer support over the phones benefiting from economies of scale, consistency in practices, and enabling more and more capability of interaction resolution via the phone channel.  

One could argue that the original digital worker in this era was the introduction of an interactive voice response (IVR) before a customer could reach a human.  Companies invested in tremendous amount of IVR capability which enabled customers to resolve issues without speaking to a person and it presented a more cost-effective and efficient approach to customer experience.  Customers initially welcomed these changes until the investment led to a perception that these systems prevented access to support representatives and created delays in resolving issues.  The value equation for the customer changed, as the IVR was no longer accretive to an excellent customer experience but seen as a blocker to the access of resources required for resolution of a customer inquiry.  

What changed?  The emergence of the internet enabled many self-service functions that negated the initial value of IVR systems. Customers can access their account data, transaction history, billing statements, and account balances all online.  Eventually, they could change their billing plans and adjust their customer record without the need for a phone discussion at all.  So when customers who adopted online access started to need to interact with a live person for resolution for a more complex issue, they were treated as if they started step one of calling the service support team.  The problem is there was not a way to know and differentiate between the customers that already attempted to resolve their issue online vs. customers who started their journey entirely from the phone channel.  Customers became frustrated with the lack of context and personalization in the experience.  

The internet ushered in many more communication channels such as messaging (i.e., SMS, iMessage, Meta Messenger, and WhatsApp).  The company response was to simply add it as another channel of support for customers.  However, these channels were never connected so what happened on one channel was foreign to the support teams of the other channel.  We define this stage as multi-channel customer experience.  It is the ability to service a customer in many channels, but it does not provide for a single pane of glass view from a customer perspective.  Each time the customer interacts in a different channel, they need to restate their issue and the history and context of the problem in order to receive adequate support.  

Omni-Channel Customer Experience: Streamlining Interactions across All Channels

The next evolution is omnichannel. Omnichannel is a customer experience strategy that aims to provide a seamless, consistent experience for customers across all channels, such as the company website, social media, email, phone, and in-person interactions. This is important for businesses because it can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, increase sales, enhance customer service, and improve data analysis. An omnichannel approach can also make it easier for businesses to engage with customers, streamline processes, and increase efficiency. By adopting an omnichannel approach, businesses can provide a positive, convenient, and consistent experience for their customers, which can lead to increased sales, customer loyalty, and long-term success.  

But legacy systems that were deployed to support multi-channel prevent an efficient omnichannel as solution.  To deploy omni-channel successfully, a unified platform like Amazon Connect/Engage is required.  It is much more difficult to orchestrate different multi-channel platforms to maintain continuity as a customer shift from channel to channel than it is to deploy a singular solution for all channels that enables out of the box continuity in channel shift.  This may seem like an expensive deployment; however, initial implementation fees are now very low reducing the barriers of transition and unifying channels delivers considerable savings to businesses through increased efficiency of customer interactions.  Not to mention, customers demand this.  Digital-first companies are delivering these solutions at inception and customers are now holding all companies to this standard of service.   An omnichannel approach is important for businesses because it allows them to reach customers through a variety of channels, which can increase their overall reach and visibility. This can be particularly important in today’s digitally driven world, where customers expect to be able to interact with businesses through a variety of channels. By providing a positive, consistent experience for customers across all channels, businesses can improve customer loyalty and increase sales. An omnichannel approach can also make it more convenient for customers to interact with a business, which can be particularly important for busy customers. 

The Benefits of Omni-Channel 

  1. Improved customer experience: By providing a seamless, consistent experience for customers across all channels, businesses can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers are more likely to have a positive experience and continue doing business with a company that they feel understands their needs and provides a smooth, convenient experience.  
  2. Increased sales: A positive customer experience can lead to increased sales. Customers are more likely to make purchases when they have a good experience with a company, and an omnichannel approach can make it easier for customers to complete purchases through their preferred channel
  3. Greater customer engagement: An omnichannel approach allows businesses to engage with customers through a variety of channels, which can help to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty.  
  4. Enhanced customer service: By providing a variety of channels for customers to contact a business, an omnichannel approach can make it easier for customers to get the help they need. It can also allow businesses to track customer interactions across all channels and provide personalized support.  
  5. Improved data analysis: An omnichannel approach allows businesses to collect and analyze data on customer behavior across all channels. This can help businesses to better understand their customers and make informed decisions about their marketing and sales strategies.  
  6. Increased efficiency: An omnichannel approach can streamline processes and make it easier for businesses to manage customer interactions, which can lead to increased efficiency and cost savings.  
  7. Cross-channel consistency: An omnichannel approach ensures that customers have a consistent experience across all channels. This means that if a customer starts a conversation with a company through one channel, such as social media, and then switches to another channel, such as a phone call, the company should be able to access the customer’s previous interactions and continue the conversation as if it was one continuous interaction. This can help to reduce frustration for the customer and improve their overall experience.  
  8. Personalization: An omnichannel approach allows businesses to collect and analyze data on customer behavior across all channels, which can help to personalize the customer experience. For example, a business might use data on a customer’s past purchases and browsing history to recommend products or send personalized marketing messages. This can help to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction.  
  9. Improved communication: An omnichannel approach allows businesses to communicate with customers through their preferred channels, which can help to improve the overall customer experience. For example, if a customer prefers to communicate through email, a business can ensure that they are able to receive updates and support through this channel.  
  10. Increased customer loyalty: By providing a positive, convenient, and personalized experience for customers across all channels, businesses can increase customer loyalty. Customers are more likely to continue doing business with a company that they feel understands their needs and provides a good experience.  
  11. Increased competitiveness: In today’s digital age, it is important for businesses to be able to meet the expectations of their customers in terms of the channels and methods through which they can interact with the company. An omnichannel approach allows businesses to provide a variety of channels and options for customers, which can make them more competitive in their market.  
  12. Improved customer retention: By providing a positive and convenient customer experience, businesses can improve customer retention. Customers are more likely to continue doing business with a company that they feel provides a good experience, and an omnichannel approach can help to build loyalty and long-term relationships with customers.  
  13. Greater flexibility: An omnichannel approach allows businesses to be flexible and adapt to the changing needs and preferences of their customers. For example, if a customer’s preferred method of communication changes, a business can easily adjust to this change and continue to provide a good experience.  
  14. Enhanced reputation: A positive customer experience can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, which can in turn enhance a business’s reputation. This can help to attract new customers and increase sales.  
  15. Improved brand awareness: An omnichannel approach allows businesses to engage with customers through a variety of channels, which can help to increase brand awareness and reach a wider audience. This can be particularly effective if a business is able to create a strong, consistent brand identity across all channels.

Importance of an Omni-Channel Approach 

By providing a variety of channels for customers, businesses can offer the most convenient channels to customers to obtain resolution.  And customer journeys can be personalized and contextualized.  For example, one can bypass that IVR because we know why the customer is now using the phone channel and we can fast track that customer to the point of resolution.  Even better, we can even prevent the customer from having to call at all and can schedule a time when we can interact with the customer directly.  Now this is the level of service that is the bar of expectation.    

Orchestrating these journeys is now simplified and more of a “ready-out-of-the-box” approach with technology solutions.  However, maximum optimization comes from integrating these solutions with front-line customer service teams to identify opportunities to further optimize omnichannel experiences.  Think about it as an out-of-box deployment may be effective for 70% of customer interactions, but if you want to get to 85% or 90% effectiveness that will require the expertise of subject matter experts who regularly support customers to partner with technology teams to get this incremental improvement. 

RELATED RESOURCES

Removing the Mango Jam from Customer Experience

Read more

Is Your Contact Center Engine Purring?

Read more

The Work Behind Artificial Intelligence: High-Quality Knowledge   

Read more

Dan Fresco

IT Director, iCXeed

Dan has 8 years management leadership experience in the customer experience and business process outsourcing industry working in technology. It is his responsibility to ensure that business operations are supported and empowered by a robust IT system. His experience includes the day-to-day management of IT infrastructure, hardware, software, security, and compliance to ensure operational readiness for customer experience delivery teams.