Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of chat and even hype over the term “omnichannel”. Where the quip “now offering Omni channel services” is being dropped like names at a cocktail party, in an air of prestige, and followed by whispers of “how did they do it??”.
But as technologically savvy as it all sounds, what does omnichannel actually mean? And how is it any different from multichannel?
To explain the difference, let’s start with the simpler of the two, multi-channel. Undoubtedly you already have a multichannel system in place that includes various channels in which you interact with your customers, be it your website, your social media sites, via email, your branch or retail outlets and telephone. An omnichannel system is a layer that simply threads together all these channels. This enables customer journeys to be accessed from across multiple channels to ensure a seamless and consistent customer experience.
While, the obvious benefit to omnichannel customer service, is that it produces a consistent customer experience, there are in fact benefits that run much deeper than this.
The future of customer service is about giving customers more control and better access to operations, so they can independently manage their own experiences. In an omnichannel system, customer service or sales processes can be accessed 24/7. In this digital environment, customers have easy access to their account via their Smartphone, from any range of channels. By enabling access to service activities, at times when it is most convenient, invaluably contributes to happier customers.
Enable the customer to achieve the best possible outcome they desire in the shortest period of time. An effective omnichannel solution necessitates the automation of customer processes. The ability to create and implement intuitive workflows, enables customers to complete more activities in self-service, such as complete transactions and purchases, or even apply for a loan, potentially getting approved on the spot!
A clear consequence of optimizing the efficiency of customer interactions is the impact on reducing back-office complexities. Simpler and integrated customer journeys, in addition to the complete automation of repetitive tasks, works to enhance the range of opportunities and efficiency of digital customer self-service, and simultaneously “frees-up” customer-facing staff.
For example, one of the major issues bombarding call centers are difficulties associated with customer authentication and validation. Companies can apply automated pathways to reset passwords or validation requirements that do not take up the time of a live agent. Going one step further, companies can employ biometric authentication that includes fingerprint, voice and facial recognition. All of these can be provided via customer interaction with their Smartphone and are proven to dramatically reduce the possibility of accounts being breached.
In an omnichannel solution automatic data capture is far more reliable and accurate. An integrated platform connected to back-end systems, serves to ensure that data is up-to-date and relevant. All information provided by customers can be automatically transferred to the organization’s CRM and entered into the appropriate data fields in real time. Additionally, as this data is integrated and holistic and not derived from a series of isolated platforms, it holds greater validity as a source of information from which to optimize processes for continuous improvement and system refinement.
With omnichannel support, data accuracy is assured with the ability to fill in forms digitally. Paper-based processes can be subject to illegible handwriting and misspelling. In contrast, data entry onto digital forms is standardized and less subject to human error. Forms can be reviewed and mistakes can be rectified in real time. Digital forms can enforce rules or information guides to enhance the relevance and reliability of the data collected.
The automated pathways of an omnichannel customer experience solution not only increase customer self-service, but also serve to support live agents when supporting customers through complex activities. The automated pathways ensure time is no longer wasted by the agent as they try to identify the correct process and forms to serve a customer. Rather, agents follow process pathways that are brought to completion far more efficiently. This may include workflow processes such as business lending, claim assessments or dispute management where there are enormous cost savings to be gained.
An increasingly prioritized operational objective is to deliver the most complete experience regardless of where the customer happens to be. Whether the customer accesses the website from their home PC, the app while on the way to work or the mobile web in the branch itself, the customer should still be able to enjoy an identical experience. Furthermore, even if a customer starts an interaction in one medium, they are able to complete their activity in another medium without any interruption, picking up at the same point they concluded their previous session.
It cannot be overemphasized that building an omnichannel customer experience, does not mean re-investing in new digital technologies. Rather it means using the digital channels that have already been invested in, such as the app, the web and mobile site, the CRM etc, and threading them together in a centralized environment that supports seamless automated pathways. An omnichannel solution should maximize the value of existing digital assets and prime them towards facilitating complete service journeys.
Learn more about implementing an Omni Channel Customer Experience with CallVU’s Digital Customer Engagement Platform.