Smarten up the journey

Supporting the expectations of Generation Z will be an important part of the omnichannel contact centre mix, but truly integrated customer journeys need to be much smarter, says James Hughes, Head of Solutions, Cloud and CCaaS at Sabio.

The omnichannel approach is coming under ever more scrutiny, noted Hughes, with retailers particularly suggesting that great customer experiences have never been about all channels being everything to everybody. “What really matters is being available in the most appropriate way at each stage of the customer journey,” he stated. “Offering contextual awareness matters for all customers.”

The truth is that omnichannel contact centres are well established having been around for at least 15 years. What’s different now is that traditional omnichannel staples such as handling emails and SMS are being swamped by digital innovations like virtual assistants, chatbots and robotic processes.

“These technologies are gaining the most traction initially in sectors where they can take out the most pain and frustration for customers, whether that’s stripping unacceptable delays out of traditional financial services interactions, smoothing the transition from digital to agent service when buying a mobile, or helping to progress a holiday purchase without losing your digital progress,” stated Hughes. “And if that process is dependent on human intervention for progress to the next stage, there’s every chance that there will be an unacceptable delay. Generation Z think of service in seconds, not minutes and hours. That even applies to complex interactions such as a mortgage application.”

Most consumers have experienced the frustrations that result from broken customer engagement processes and unresolved customer journeys. Addressing these process delays – and removing the associated pain for customers – sits at the heart of initiatives to improve customer journeys. “Consider mortgage applications,” noted Hughes. “Some legacy firms can still take months to process a mortgage application, whereas digitally-enabled challengers can now deliver a proceedible answer within an hour. This kind of disruptive power can’t be ignored.”

What really matters is being available in the most appropriate way at each stage of the customer journey

When proposing an omnichannel contact centre solution to prospects the automatic gate openers depend on how far advanced an organisation is in terms of its customer engagement journey. Today’s leaders know that if they get their CX right, there will be an impact not just on revenues but also customer retention and renewals. However, they also know that, whether it’s omnichannel or other aspects of CX, there aren’t any magic bullets. “Each organisation has their own distinct propositions and customer demographic and getting CX right takes both investment and ongoing effort to make it work,” added Hughes.

“Perhaps the most frustrating type of organisation are those with a largely static approach to CX development. They usually know they should be doing more, but either don’t want to take risks with new solutions or they don’t necessarily have the drive or motivation to take things forward. Before embarking on any kind of omnichannel project they really need to work on developing their own CX champions.”

There’s also those companies that don’t have a joined-up CX-driven approach to omnichannel. They typically adopt a more short-term approach, investing in single products or solutions to address specific aspects of their customer journey. “While potentially productive in isolation, this approach doesn’t equip an organisation with the kind of enterprise end-to-end omnichannel solution they need,” stated Hughes.

“However, evolving towards a more flexible cloud approach can give organisations the agility to focus on delivering consistent and frictionless service. The goal is to achieve the right mix of solutions, digital capabilities and customer insight so that you can work continuously to optimise service delivery.”

Hughes also believes that it’s critical for organisations not only to provide brilliant customer experiences but make sure they stay brilliant. “Organisations are looking for the kind of analytics and insight that will help improve visibility, responsiveness and control across all of their customer interaction channels,” he added. “Specific technologies and solutions can of course help here, whether it’s the introduction of Robotic Process Automation to help streamline back office processes that cause customer frustration, or innovations such as content sharing that allows agents to send and share digital information during the course of a call with a customer.

“However, tech alone isn’t the answer. Perhaps the greatest challenge for organisations comes from making sure they’re leveraging the right CX datasets to help predict and anticipate evolving customer demands. Being able to measure, analyse, understand and optimise the productivity and effectiveness of your omnichannel contact centre operations can deliver the key differentiation that organisations really need.”

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