By Amit Khanna, Head of Technology, WNS Global Services
As digital adoption continues to rise, outdated contact center systems are unable to deliver the level of service required to stay competitive. This has created today’s most significant customer service challenge and opportunity: the ability to meet growing customer expectations while also streamlining systems infrastructure.
Fragmented customer journeys result in missed sales opportunities, higher operating expenses and customer churn. Additionally, the current lack of integration is not just limiting customer engagement, it is also causing substantial IT challenges, hindering workforce efficiency and preventing businesses from obtaining crucial analytics to enable data-driven business decisions.
The impact of siloed communication channels and fractured customer experience (CX) is widespread and calls for broader adoption of an omni-channel approach to customer engagement.
Defining a High Impact Omni-channel CX
The term ‘omni-channel’—also used to define multi-path purchase journeys— has a broader meaning when it comes to customer engagement. An omni-channel CX approach is driven by the gathering and utilizing of context and relevant customer data across all engagement channels. It covers the entire customer lifecycle across marketing, sales, service and distribution. Digitally mature customers prefer a higher degree of self-service and control over their interactions across channels. They expect a customized flow of options and questions rather than pre-set interactive voice response (IVR) menus.
As the demand for seamless and personalized customer journeys has firmed up, companies have increasingly turned to omni-channel CX platforms to transform their contact centers. These platforms enable the critical integration of customer engagement across voice, chat, messaging, e-mail, social media and mobile apps. They leverage big data, analytics, artificial intelligence and automation to deliver context and personalization capabilities at scale.
However, a complete transformation to an omni-channel model may not be feasible at one go. Businesses will need to prioritize the must-have, high impact features first.
As the demand for seamless and personalized customer journeys has firmed up, companies have increasingly turned to omni-channel CX platforms to transform their contact centers
In our experience, the following are some of the leading features (not in order of preference) that enhance customer delight and deliver the highest benefits:
Co-browsing: According to the Customer Experience Board, over 90 percent callers have either visited a company’s website or are actually on it when calling for assistance. Co-browsing helps agents capture customer details as well as their screen journey and deliver in-context guidance.
IVR integration with internal and external systems: Data privacy and protection are high priority parameters for all businesses. Integrating IVR or chatbots with external systems such as payment gateways or internal ERP and CRM systems eliminates the need for customers to reveal sensitive information to human agents while completing a transaction or retrieving information.
Personalized call routing: Using embedded analytics, Company Telephony Integration can not only identify calling customers, it can be configured to transfer the call back to an agent who has served them previously. High-value customers who find their calls in a queue can be transferred directly to supervisors. Customer calls pertaining to completion of registrations or bookings can be transferred directly to distribution partner companies.
Open-ended self-service: According to a market survey, 75 percent of customers feel that self-service is a convenient way to address their requirements. Configuring customer contact systems for more open-ended communication goes a long way in enabling this. For example, a message sent out to inform a customer about a delayed or canceled flight can also include a link to their booking record online, enabling further direct action.
Personalized outbound engagement: While bursts of outbound messaging for promotional and pre-emptive messaging is the norm, personalized and predictive messaging opens up opportunities for greater impact. For instance, birthday or anniversary greetings with personalized offers can impact a customer booking.
Social media engagement: Customers are increasingly taking to social media as the first channel to air their queries and complaints. When companies fail to respond promptly or at least within the first day, it has high costs.
Chatbots: Chatbots have become critical in helping companies deliver consistent levels of service at scale. Configuring chatbots to service straightforward requests for information or execute simpler tasks across chat, messaging, social media and e-mail can improve first-time resolution rates significantly.
The trend we see ahead is a business landscape where there’s greater focus on adopting a mobile-oriented contact center strategy which leverages native mobile applications in seamless transitions to contact channels. While this strategy is already in play, we still don’t see widespread adoption across businesses.
That omni-channel contact centers save costs and improve critical business metrics like Net Promoter Score is accepted wisdom. But what companies are now waking up to is the fact that strong customer relationships and loyalty can open up the traditionally ‘service-only’ channel as a potential source of revenue.