In an earlier post, The Digital Revolution, Rising Consumer Expectations, we showed how consumer expectations are changing and placing a higher priority on digital engagement with companies. We ended by detailing 7 best practices that we’ll detail here.
1) Centrally managing next generation digital interactions in the contact center
Today in most company’s ownership of digital channels is siloed outside the contact center, typically in marketing. There are multiple challenges when managed this way, including:
- Consumers typically engage a company for customer care, meaning they are engaging team focused on the brand but not directly responsible for the issues the consumer is engaging the company
- It doesn’t scale. Most marketing teams dedicate a small number of people to monitor digital channels to protect the brand reputation and don’t staff them sufficiently to actually deal with the real issues consumers are facing
- Consumers engage companies for a wide variety of issues related to customer care. Marketing staff assigned to monitor these channels lack all the necessary skills to provide timely and complete answers
- The focus of marketing when monitoring digital channels is for brand reputation, not service. However, this can undermine the brand reputation because consumers engaging the company through these channels are unlikely to get the answers or resolution they want in a timely fashion
Conversely, when customer service owns monitoring and engaging consumers through digital channels as part of an omnichannel customer service effort, these issues are addressed.
Customer service is staffed for scale, is customer focused, trained on efficiently dealing with customer care issues, can manage digital-first omnichannel interactions that include voice, and can provide feedback to sales and marketing to ensure organizational silos don’t exist.
2) Adding support for digital messaging and real-time channels
Supporting digital channels can be technically difficult. Support can lack standards, it seems like new offerings are coming on the market daily, and their use can vary by demographic (e.g., preferences can vary for younger vs. older consumers).
You need a solution that makes it easy to support all channels natively, including voice, digital, and next-generation digital channels. It needs to be simple to activate new channels through pre-integrated capabilities, and it needs to be cost-effective to enable all your agents to manage blended interactions that move easily among channels.
3) Providing a unified inbox for all channels that supports each channel’s unique capabilities
Ensuring a simple, efficient agent experience to manage digital-first omnichannel interactions is critical. A unified inbox for all channels is critical as it provides:
- Single interface: one inbox for all interactions
- Native experience: each messaging platform that keeps its native features
- Agents in control: “pulling” work in a natural flow, with dynamic prioritization
- Breaking silos: between voice and digital agents to create blended, omnichannel agents that improves operational efficiencies
4) Providing agents context to all interactions across all channels
As agents are equipped to handle blended interactions, they need to be armed with context that is maintained through customer journeys and across channels.
A customer card meets this need by providing full customer context across channels and the complete customer journey, leveraging appropriate CRM data, and providing immediate access to conversation history and sentiment.
5) Allowing customers to easily move across voice, digital, and messaging channels
When supporting true omnichannel interactions, consumers are going to expect to move seamlessly across any channel. In fact, doing so ensures the most efficient, cost-effective way to solve many problems.
Imagine using self-service channels that empower consumers to solve basic tasks and that enable them to move to a chat and even a phone call when they have more complex inquiries or encounter problems.
Some specific examples are:
- A customer calls the contact center with a billing issue. An updated invoice is shared through WhatsApp where the customer confirms and pays via the payment Gateway right from WhatsApp.
- A customer reaches the contact center via Apple Business Chat (iMessage) with an inquiry on a new bank service. In order to authenticate the new service an inbound automated call is placed. The customer authenticates the transaction through voice, and confirmation of the new service is sent via email.
Research shows that consumers want the flexibility to interact with businesses through their channels of choice, and they expect companies to direct them to the most efficient way to address their question.
Increasingly, this is going to involve multiple channels with an expectation for seamless movement among these channels. Companies that deliver this seamless movement will meet the expectations for their customers.
6) Ensuring holistic omnichannel management across all contact center operations
Supporting digital-first omnichannel interactions with your customers extends well beyond the agent and needs to be managed holistically across all contact center operations. For effective management, all such systems need to work seamlessly across channels.
Workforce engagement needs to provide quality management, coaching, and recording and scheduling tools for true omnichannel teams. Your analytics solution needs to support and provide insights across all channels. And, organizationally, you need to break down silos to ensure customer issues are worked holistically and insights are shared to all appropriate parties.
7) Incorporating AI capabilities for self-service
Self-service capabilities powered by artificial intelligence should be used to optimize digital channels. Chatbots, for example, provide containment for digital channels just as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) does for voice.
Begin with simple and repetitive use cases that generate high value. And leverage intelligent routing that understands omnichannel interactions to ensure seamless routing between live agents and self-service options.