How to Implement an Omnichannel Customer Experience

Organisations who implement a strong omnichannel customer experience will see returns in a number of ways.

Sales processes will be streamlined. Collaboration between different functions, including product, channel, customer, marketing and technology, will create simplified and efficient solutions. For example, by eliminating breaks and delays in the customer journey, organisations can decrease drop off rates and increase first call resolution, and by enabling agents to access information customers have provided in other channels, organisations can decrease costly handling time.

Omnichannel solutions will also have a positive impact on risk, regulation and compliance. Technological solutions can be applied to directly assist service agents with delivering compliant sales, as well as providing secure audit trails that guarantee compliance. What’s more, this decreased complexity and reduced handoffs between channels and product groups improve an organisation’s ability to assist with customer concerns quickly and sufficiently.

Customer engagement is increased as they can forge their own journeys, and employees are also more fulfilled since they are spending less time on repeated, complex processes. But significantly, by shedding the siloed approach, organisations can also reduce the costs of managing multiple vendors and touchpoint solution maintenance through using a single unified solution. This also means that skills are centralised.

Fundamentally, however, successful omnichannel platforms directly impact on an organisation’s bottom line. Indeed, one European bank that implemented a seamless omnichannel strategy that combined the relative benefits of human and digital channels saw consistent sales growth of 20% over three years.

Simply put: 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for a simpler, more omnichannel experience. As customer experience becomes the new differentiator between competitors, providing a seamless omnichannel experience will enable organisations to stand out from the crowd.

Like any transformative effort, omnichannel delivery can be a large task, often requiring the involvement of multiple stakeholders. Although the obstacles can at first seem formidable, they are far from insurmountable and the benefits of a seamless customer experience will far exceed the efforts to realise it.

With that in mind, here are five steps organisations should take to implement truly omnichannel customer experiences.

1. Knowledge Gathering

In order to implement a successful omnichannel strategy, organisations must have full oversight of their current architecture model.

Without a clear view of how different channels are operating, how systems are designed, what control mechanisms are in place and more, it is difficult to identify how processes might be integrated to provide a seamless experience for the customer.

Journey mapping (the topic we looked at in the first chapter is a great place to start. This exercise will help organisations to identify the breaks and delays affecting the customer’s experience, and subsequently the points at which would benefit from integrated platforms and processes.

The ‘voice of the customer’ is also a valuable resource that organisations can use to shape the journeys of the future. To truly maximise value, this must be more than a simple overall customer satisfaction rating. Rather, feedback from customers can be used through social media, quality surveys and information from other channels. This will help set priorities and create a platform that works for the customer, as well as the organisation.

2. Create Processes Spanning Across Channels

Customers don’t want to shape their journeys around an organisation’s internal processes, therefore, while undoubtedly important, they should not set the direction of the journey itself.

Organisations should therefore build processes across channels, allowing the customer the flexibility to meander across them as and when they like.

Current operating models generally mean that channel owners are focused on optimising operational efficiency and customer experience within their respective channels. To a certain extent, this approach is beneficial: it creates accountability, maintains order and utilises specialised skills. However, for customers this can create often a variety of pain-points, including having to resubmit information or leave them seeking help in the wrong place.

Instead, organisations must widen the scope of processes so that they are channel neutral. What if customer data was available to service agents regardless of which channel the customer began their journey? What if organisations could take biometric verification often used in mobile apps and bring that forward into telephony to speed up the identification process? What if customers could submit documentation online rather than having to send it in the post?

These examples are all possible if organisations shift away from a silo mentality. What’s more, the benefits of doing so are not just limited to an improved customer experience, and the subsequent higher conversion and retention rates. Rather processes can be streamlined, efficiency improved, and costs reduced.

3. Technology

It is likely that existing infrastructure alone will not be enough to support a strong omnichannel strategy.

This problem is particularly prevalent in traditional channels, like telephony, which have yet to feel the full force of digital transformation. A starting point is to examine the tools and resources service staff have to progress journeys across multiple channels. Where there are significant breakpoints, organisations may want to look for technological solutions.

Let’s look at telephony. In complex customer journeys, it is unusual for a sale or service issue to be resolved in one single interaction. Additional steps are often required after the call has been concluded, such as going into store or branch for verification or sending documents in the post, creating inconvenience and opening a window in which your customer might consider your competitors.

Equally, there are often requirements within telephony interactions that are painful for both the customer and the agent. Delivering compliant sales usually means an agent has to read a lengthy and unengaging script, which also opens up the organisation to risk should an agent make an error.

Technology can be used to combine the benefits of different channels and solve these kinds of problems. For example, Vizolution’s vScreen platform has transformed telephony journeys for the likes of HSBC and O2 by enabling agents to request documentation and identification, as well as display compliance information, through a screen sharing session all while on the phone to the customer. In this respect, the benefits of digital and traditional channels are combined to offer a seamless experience for the customer.

Significantly, the availability of SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms nowadays means that these solutions can be implemented within a matter of weeks rather than months or years. Huge projects, involving lengthy integration and changes to legacy systems, are no longer necessary, meaning organisations can see rapid value and return on their investment and quickly set their omnichannel strategy on the path to be self-funding.

4. Help at the Point of Need

From the customer’s perspective, the benefit of an omnichannel experience is that they can control their own journey.

However, for organisations, it can also mean that they are able to redirect customers to self-serve channels for tasks that they can perform independently, reducing costs and freeing up valuable agent handling time to serve more complicated enquiries.

While 40% of journeys today begin online, only 15% of these journeys are digital from start to finish. This might be because they have a question or encounter a difficulty within the self-serve process. But rather than escalating the issue up to human support for the remainder of the journey, organisations should provide help at that point, and then encourage customers to revert to the digital channel.

Co-browsing solutions are a good example of an integrated approach. When a customer encounters a problem on a particular website, they can often click an icon on that page to request a call or open an online chat, enabling the agent to see their screen and answer their questions. Once this issue is solved, the customer is then free to continue in their digital channel, ensuring the sale isn’t lost and that the cost of high touch support is kept to a minimum.

5. Work in Real-Time

Customers operate with a ‘want it now’ mentality. When they call you for a loan or a new phone, they don’t want a lengthy transaction process or to have to wait a long time for their product. Organisations that are fastest to respond will gain significant advantage over those who do not.

Even if channels are integrated as part of a single omnichannel platform, significant time delays in information sharing between channels would, to a certain extent, negate the real benefit of the solution. Customers don’t want to have to call you two days after a problem arises in the self-serve journey while your system catches up. They want that support and they want it now.

The good news for organisations is that the availability of Big Data means that if a customer provides you with information in one channel, it’s possible to instantly access it in another. Organisations should capitalise on this technology, enabling customer service agents with the tools to assist customers.

In Conclusion

By recognising the impact that siloed information can have on your customer journeys, you’ll be able to start the process of moving to a truly omnichannel experience, where your customers can progress their journey seamlessly across their channels of choice, without having to repeat stages or conversations.

Customers have developed an ‘always-on’ mentality and the onus is on organisations to meet those evolving expectations. Delivering truly omnichannel experiences is a challenging task, but with today’s technology, a comprehensive view of customer journeys, and processes that are channel-neutral, it is one that forward-thinking organisations must strive to achieve.

This blog post was taken from the eBook – The Ultimate Guide to CX Management in 2020, to download your copy – click here.

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