The 4 Obstacles to Delivering Omnichannel CX

Omnichannel CX is a strategy designed to provide customers with smooth and seamless customer journeys, regardless of the channel that they choose to use to engage with an organisation. In this blog, we highlight the four main obstacles that will prevent a business from delivering a truly omnichannel customer experience.

The way customers interact with organisations is changing.

Across sectors, digital transformation is broadly shifting customer engagement away from traditional channels and towards online platforms. From apps to AI assistants, it can be easy to get caught up in the race to unveil the newest platform, with the latest gadgets and gizmos!

While the proliferation in channels has undoubtedly created more choice for the customer in terms of how they interact with you, these channels have grown in silos, organically and independently from each other. This means problems can arise when a customer begins a journey in one channel but wants to complete it in another.

Customer journeys are often complicated and can take place across multiple channels and involve numerous touchpoints. Yet despite this 31.5% of organisations don’t have a formally defined channel management strategy.

How well defined is your customer contact channel management strategy?
Contact Babel, The Inner Circle Guide to Omnichannel Customer Contact 2016

A lack of integration across these different channels can cause significant break points. Customers can be faced with the choice of starting their journey again in the new channel and repeating information already submitted or, walking away from the sale.

The challenge for organisations is to connect the dots and facilitate a seamless experience for customers who want to forge their own journey.

The 4 Obstacles to Omnichannel CX

While agents can often operate in multiple channels, the fact that these channels operate in silos means that should a customer want to change the way they are interacting with the organisation, the history and context of their enquiry is lost.

By contrast, omnichannel contact centres enable customers to communicate across channels, with all the relevant contact history and information available to the agent throughout the customer journey.

We previously looked into the risks of broken customer journeys, both in terms of increased customer frustration and drop off. But despite the pitfalls of siloed channels and the benefits of an integrated approach being well known, only 12% of organisations believe they are operating on an omnichannel basis.

Is your contact centre multi-channel, multi-modal or omnichannel? (by contact centre size)
McKinsey, Customers’ lives are digital – but is your customer care still analogue

This is partly because the implementation of omnichannel schemes is often hindered by some common obstacles. It is worth noting these barriers before beginning a transformation project, in order to plan around and minimise their influence and maximise success. So what are the four main obstacles to delivering omnichannel CX?

1. Organisational Silos

Although organisational structure varies from company to company, separate teams are often responsible for the running of different channels, products or services. Although this means simple journeys that remain within particular siloes may function well, the problem is that this can mean no one is accountable for the overall customer experience.

It also leads to basic challenges for an organisation in truly understanding how customers perceive and interact with their business. Typically a customer’s experience of an organisation takes account of all their interactions with a business.

If the business is siloed, each silo may be performing well when measured individually, but in reality, the total customer experience is more than than just the sum of its parts.

What this may mean in practice is while your telephony, digital and face-to-face channels may all be performing well on their own merits, if the integration between them is poor, their experience will be tarnished.

For example, a customer who has previously interacted with a business digitally and who then progresses to a telephone call, would expect the telephone agent to have access to the information from the previous interactions. If they don’t, this can lead to frustrations with the overall journey as the customer has to repeat information, and this may not be picked up if each siloed channel is only measuring its own KPIs.

2. A Digital First Focus

It is easy to get caught up in the rush towards digital transformation. As digital channels are able to serve high volumes of customers at low cost, they can appear to be the Holy Grail.

However, this can lead to organisations forgetting about the ‘digital misfits’, so-called customers who fail a digital journey (for a number of reasons) and will look for assistance in a traditional channel.

The focus on digital transformation is unlikely to unlock the promised benefits if you do not simultaneously provide a safety net for the customers who will inevitably fail that journey.

3. Legacy Systems

The mechanisms through which organisations process customer enquiries have developed organically overtime. Systems have been modified and adapted, but often are not agile enough to meet ever-evolving customer needs. Equally, historically separate departments can have their own legacy systems, and integrating outside the silo can be a daunting task.

An Accenture survey found that at 74%, improving the customer experience was the number one priority for banking back offices. The same survey found that 69% of banks believe that their back offices have trapped potential within their legacy systems.

A large part of an organisation’s ability to unlock this untapped potential hinges upon how effective they will be at using new technologies to measure and create better front-line experiences for customers.

4. Organisational Commitment

Although many organisations tend to emphasise the value of a seamless customer experience, when decision makers are faced with choosing between CX and other more quantifiable objectives, such as cost, CX can often be bumped down the priority list.

However, CX leader Annette Franz referred to a lack of executive buy-in as her no. 1 ‘deadly sin’ when it comes to customer experience.

Because every department and facet of an organisation has an impact on the customer experience, they all have to be on board and working towards the same goals. That’s why the impetus for redesigning the CX and customer journeys must be supported, if not driven, by senior executives.

They are best placed to ensure that CX initiatives align with business goals and to ensure the necessary transformation happens throughout the business in all departments.

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