What Is An Omnichannel Contact Center & Why It Is a Focal Point for CX
An omnichannel contact center is a unified customer interaction center that helps businesses deliver a consistent customer experience.
Contact centers enable businesses to provide customer service across all possible service channels through a single customer interaction center. It acts as a central point — a hub of sorts that unifies all customer interactions and helps deliver consistent customer service.
Whether it includes phone, email, live chat, social media, instant messaging, or a mobile app,or even a combination of some or all of these, a contact center ensures that all customer interactions are routed to a single destination where customer service agents have full context and capabilities to serve the customer better. The omnichannel approach becomes necessary since millennial customer expectations are on a higher plane than what they used to be when call centers were the norm.
To deliver a better customer experience, to take the customer satisfaction scores to the next level, or to maximize customer engagement — an omnichannel contact center solution has become a necessity to meet all key KPIs and metrics.
Here is a primer on what an omnichannel contact center is and how it can help your business deliver a seamless customer experience.
What is an omnichannel contact center?
An omnichannel contact center is a cloud contact center that brings all support interactions from different communication channels like email, real-time chat, social, phone, etc., into one place. Omnichannel software allows agents to respond to customers from a single view and maintain support consistency across channels. For a customer, it gives the flexibility to reach out to a business through any of the preferred channels and expect a seamless experience.
Companies with solid omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.1
The millennial customer wants a unified customer service experience from your business, no matter which channel they choose to reach you. Your agents also need to respond to customer queries with the historical context of previous customer interactions in other channels. An omnichannel contact center bridges this gap by letting customers and support agents feel the ease of access and outreach. Whether they call the call center or ask a query on web chat, they expect quick resolutions in a seamless manner.
At the onset, this might appear similar to what multi-channel customer support offers. However, there are stark differences between them both.
Primary differences between multichannel and omnichannel contact centers
In essence, a multichannel contact center refers to the usage of multiple communication channels for customer service. But the difference is how integrated the experience is across channels.
Multichannel contact centers are disparate in the way customer data is stored, as the channels remain siloed despite being offered as touchpoints. Your support agents will have to go through switching tabs while responding and manually fetching data to collate all the interactions.
With omnichannel contact centers, it’s a single source of truth for all things customer service. Every channel is connected and embedded within a common dashboard, from where agents can resolve customer issues without losing context.
Is an omnichannel contact center a bare necessity in 2021?
49% of consumers, on average, use three to five different communication channels to contact customer service.2
This has been echoed enough but is worth calling out again – the pandemic has prompted a new wave of digital-first customer service. With in-store experiences fading out, customers were forced to get comfortable with digital channels overnight to access support and make purchase decisions.
Having now experienced the fluidity of interacting through digital channels, customers will find it challenging to bank only on conventional support channels like email and phone moving forward. Besides offering your customers a great support experience, omnichannel contact centers can completely transform your support processes and operations.
Six ways that an omnichannel contact center transforms your support
From bringing all customer interactions under one roof to eliminating disjointed communication within the customer support org, there is quite a lot that a contact center can do.
Here are six benefits of an omnichannel contact center:
1. One screen for all customer conversations
Reduce the resolution time and the cost of operating through multiple channels for different customer queries. Bring all customer interactions to one place and get historical context like purchase history and prior interactions in a few clicks. An omnichannel contact center lets your agents speed up and personalize their support by giving full context and instant accessibility to every support ticket.
2. A ready-to-scale support interface
Any omnichannel contact center software that you pick has to be future-proof. If you’re running a small business that eventually has to scale, you shouldn’t have to think about migrating to a more comprehensive tool with each growth spurt. Instead, with an omnichannel customer service software, you can add as many support channels as you want to your existing stack as your company grows. Add agent licenses, manage SLAs, build operational workflows, create self-service portals, deploy live chat and chatbots, or integrate your call center or connect with marketplace integrations without affecting the existing support processes.
3. Third-party integrations within the omnichannel software
It’s a pain to get disjoint systems to communicate with each other. Disjointed business software is the number one threat to delivering an omnichannel customer experience. Also, agents stand the risk of losing context while working through multiple tools. But with an omnichannel contact center software lets your contact center agents be in complete control of various data sources within the helpdesk. Never let any information slip by gaining total visibility into CRM, telephony, billing, and other APIs, even if they are not native integrations.
4. Automatic routing of customer queries
Enhance agent productivity and responsiveness by automating the ticket-assigning process. The ideal omnichannel contact center will be able to route queries from different channels based on workload, agent expertise, team, and many such customizable rules. Omniroute by Freshdesk is an excellent example of automatic workload management in omnichannel contact centers.
5. A comprehensive timeline of customer journeys
Make informed decisions to personalize your support by tracking the customer journey from the research phase to onboarding to their current engagement as a customer. With an omnichannel platform, you can understand better customer inquiries, responses to marketing campaigns, and new product interests. In short, it helps meet customer expectations in a proactive manner.
6. Cross-team collaboration to resolve issues quickly
Demand accountability from every stakeholder involved in the support process apart from your customer service team. An omnichannel contact center lets your support agents rope in the concerned team if the resolution scope goes beyond them.
Consider an e-commerce business, for example. Support agents will need inputs from the finance team (payment issues), procurement, and third-party vendors such as delivery or warehouse partners (order tracking). A collaborative omnichannel contact center will let agents add collaborators and experts to resolve support tickets without being a liaison who runs back and forth, taking all the heat and workload.
Aspects to look for while choosing an omnichannel contact center software
Selecting the right omnichannel contact center software could make a world of difference to your customer support. Here are some best practices that will help you make the right choice.
AI capabilities: Even if you’re not immediately looking for AI-powered chatbots, agent-assist, or predictive analytics, pick a contact center that has these abilities out of the box. They will become convenient when you are short-staffed or have scaled to a level where customer requests are overflowing.
Native self-service: Customers feel empowered to resolve their problems by themselves, and that ease of finding solutions leaves a lasting impression. When an omnichannel contact center can host multiple branded self-service portals, the support experience becomes truly integrated.
RPAs and workflows: RPA bots and workflow automation streamline your support operations by triggering a series of events that would otherwise eat a considerable chunk of agents’ and administrators ’ valuable time. For example, the omnichannel contact center must allow you to configure rules and conditions to trigger a workflow for scenarios such as network downtime, escalations, pricing changes, and product issues.
Marketplace for integrations: Some tools may not be intuitive with their partner integrations. This could also be a business gimmick to keep you within their suite of products. But businesses find their value in different products across the spectrum, and the ideal omnichannel contact center has to accommodate your business needs. Freshdesk, for example, gives you the choice of 650+ integrations and APIs that work with the same fluidity as native integrations.
Advanced reporting and analytics: Omnichannel contact centers provide comprehensive reports of ticket trends across channels with an actionable dashboard. Look out for support and product insights to fine-tune gaps in customer experience. Monitor high-touch channels like social media and instant messaging to evaluate the impact and take calls on staffing for specific channels.
Bringing it all together
A decade ago, a smartphone was looked upon as a priced gadget reserved for the masses. But, today, the population of smartphones exceeds the human population. A similar sort of evolution is happening in the customer support space as well. Siloed or multi-channel customer support centers might seem like the best way to go about delivering customer support.
However, omnichannel contact centers will soon replace them. And they have numerous advantages that make them a superior choice. When it comes to running a business, it is not whether the business needs omnichannel customer service. The question is, how soon can it get one?