In the past, contact centres took a multichannel approach to dealing with customers. A contact centre that took a multichannel approach was handling multiple touch points, or multiple communication channels, that their customers used to engage with them, such as social media, email or telephone. Before long, many organisations began to realise that a multichannel provider wasn’t enough and that they needed another solution.
But why was this change necessary?
The digital revolution and change in customer behaviour
The increasing access to digital tools has changed the way customers behave, including the way they engage with companies. These are the ways the digital revolution changed customer behaviour and expectations:
Increasingly connected to communication tools
The cellphone gave us access to voice and text messaging, no matter where we were. Then the smartphone came along, giving us a platform for voice, text messaging and Internet communication tools - all of which could fit into our pockets. Whether you prefer to communicate via Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp or regular voice calls, they’re now completely accessible on the go.
This ability to access multiple communication tools also meant that customers were increasingly communicating across multiple channels. They might follow up a phone call with a tweet or an email, even if they’re trying to follow up regarding the same issue.
Communication at any time of day
Two decades ago it would have been considered normal if you called a company’s customer service number after 5 PM and an automated reply asked you to call back in the morning.
Customers today expect companies to respond to their queries outside of the traditional 9 to 5 business hours, particularly on social media channels.
Customers are familiar with the frustrations caused by dealing with a customer service representative who insists on taking you through a scripted process, most of which has nothing to do with your problem or query. This frustration has increasingly led to customers demanding an experience that is relevant to their issue.
Access to more information
The Internet changed the way the world accessed information. No longer did you have to go to a library and open up a book, you could now access it from any computer with Internet access. The ability to access this information only increased when it became easy to browse the Internet though modern smartphone devices.
Less customer loyalty
This increase in information means that customers no longer have the same loyalty to brands as they once did. A customer who isn’t sure of a product no longer needs to rely on the salesman or the opinion of their friends to make a decision. The customer can just look up a review of the product online. Or, if a service provider fails to impress, the customer can easily find out which competitor will deliver what they need and switch to their product instead.
But how does this affect a multichannel provider? Why is a multichannel provider struggling to meet the needs of modern day customers?
Unfortunately, the increasing expectations of consumers means that even a multichannel solution is not enough. The primary issue for customers was having to provide the same information to a contact centre agent each time they switch communication channels.
In order to overcome this challenge, companies need to look towards an omnichannel answer.
The omnichannel solution
Omnichannel differs from multichannel in that it aims to provide customers with a consistent experience across all channels, while also allowing the customer to pick up the conversation where they left off, regardless of the method of communication they were using before. An omnichannel provider also recognises that great customer experience is the key to ensuring customer loyalty, and understands that, when providing a digital solution, it should be more efficient and effective than the solution it has been designed to replace.
This is achievable with a properly equipped platform that allows you to keep track of your conversation with a customer, regardless of the contact centre agent or channel through which they’re communicating.
An omnichannel platform is able to accomplish this thanks to:
Bots that help automate processes - Bots are implemented to handle self-service tools and simple tasks, or to gather data for the contact centre agent.
Deeper understanding thanks to analytics - By being able to gather data on how customers interact with a contact centre across all channels, the provider is better able to understand how customers interact the organisation and optimise their approach accordingly.
More skilled contact centre agents - The more bots take over the simpler contact centre agent tasks, the more contact centre agents will be required to solve complex problems. The overall expectations for contact centre agents will be much higher, and these agents will be expected to deliver, particularly when it comes to moments of truth.
Merchants is a customer experience and omnichannel provider that can assist you with delivering world-class customer experience. For more information on customer experience, or if you need assistance with anything else,
contact us here.