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Omni-channel is the channel

Twitter: @rhodo_odysseos

Last year, I had endless interactions with a travel agency as I tried to reschedule my flight that had been canceled due to an airline strike. As I told my story, over and over again, oh how I wished that the agency and agents involved had a sense of my customer journey and were able to pick up from the last call and not start all over. And that the website reflected the latest information that I had provided to the agent. And that the airline was empowered to text me with my new booking. I bet you know the feeling.

SMP infographic

Omni-channel is the channel. According to Forrester Research [1], 75% of the time, customers will move to another channel when they are unable to find answers to their questions via the first channel. And if your omni-channel options aren’t working, then the First Call Resolution (FCR) rate will naturally be lower. This also incurs recontact costs that can eventually lead to an extensive amount of additional expenses as well as to revenue loss in case disappointed clients take their business somewhere else.

Omni-channel has been a hot topic in contact centers for the past few years. Omni-channel is a multi-channel way to customer support that seeks to provide the client  with a consistent and unbroken experience - be it talking to an agent, conducting self-service, going in-store, using IVR (Interactive Voice Response), email, live chat, video, forums or social media, and this on their preferred connected device (desktop, smartphone, tablet).

Today the discussion goes beyond the notion that customers are connecting with operators over many communications channels using a variety of devices. The new element in the puzzle is that customers often use multiple channels simultaneously and there is an expectation that agents are knowledgeable about the steps that the customer has taken before reaching out to an agent. When a customer calls into a contact center, it is increasingly not the first step they’ve taken to solve their problem or get an answer to their question. They have typically already tried some kind of self-service, such as visiting the company’s website, used web chat or sent an email. They may also have reached out to the company via social media or tried using a mobile application.

So simply put, an omni-channel customer experience stands for the ability of your customer to be in contact with your company via a variety of channels or different entry points and to essentially be able to pick up where they left off on one channel and continue the conversation on another.

One of the greatest impediments to providing clients with consistent and unified omni-channel encounters is the habit of channel and organization silos that make it troublesome for customers to have a fluid conversation. In numerous organizations, once support for another channel such as SMS or online networking has been added, the channel will become manageable and worked on by a separate or individual team. Regardless of the fact that this isn't  by design, every channel runs independently and is hardly integrated with different channels, thus making simulated and artificial hindrances in the omni-channel customer journey.

So how do you address these two basic challenges when input is coming in via multiple channels?

First and foremost, how do you handle the responsibility (and a business need) to make sure to respond quickly, helpfully and humanly to input from customers, regardless of the channel it comes in on?

The secondary business need, one that is necessary to achieve true, sustainable omni-channel communication as part of an omni-channel customer experience, how do you learn how these channels come together to create the customer experience, and how a more seamless communication landscape can be created?

Millennials, 87% of today’s largest generation of consumers have between two and three tech devices at hand, 50% are more likely to research a product online, and 43% are likely to purchase online. So you should have the capacity to bolster them fluidly across all of the channels they utilize. That is a reason why it's important to get the basic components of omni-channel client support set up. Even if your organization doesn't plan to offer different channel choices to clients today, you are going to need it eventually.

Nokia has a solution: Motive® Service Management Platform (SMP) - a platform that just works anywhere anytime. Our solutions in Nokia Motive® can help achieve this revolutionary platform with the right architecture and underlying technologies in place to provide clients with a fruitful omni-channel experience.

But before you start expanding your organization's omni-channel vicinity, it's best to assess the present condition of the dynamic environment. How simple or troublesome is it to include new channel support? Does it automatically adapt to changing context, is it impacting guided troubleshooting between support channels and solving customer issues faster and ultimately avoiding asking customers unnecessary questions? Be sure to read our next blog on “Dynamic Intelligent Workflows”.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #CEM #CSPCX

[1] Source: “Websites That Don’t Support Customers Waste Millions,” Forrester Research, Inc., August 21, 2012

Rhodo Odysseos

About Rhodo Odysseos

Rhodo is a true telecom OSS/BSS veteran and a dedicated customer experience evangelist. Ask her anything about customer care solutions in all facets of call center, self help and proactive care. Rhodo holds an MSc. in Computer Science from the Electrotechnical University of Prague and can provide remarkable service in English, Portuguese, Greek and Czech.

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