10 tips & tricks for great omnichannel customer contact
More and more consumers expect a seamless customer experience, regardless via which channels they interact with a brand or company. Rightly so of course! With omnichannel contact centre solutions becoming the rule rather than the exception these days, we should be past the stage of disjointed customer interactions by now, right?
Sadly, that is by no means always the case. Even organisations that do use an omnichannel platform are still failing in this area. You wonder why? It’s because purchasing such a platform is not the solution to the problem. Indispensable, yes. But there is much more to it! It is a matter of balancing all the moving parts that together form an optimal customer experience.
In this blog we give you ten tips and tricks that will make omnichannel customer contact a success. Practical tips that you can put to good use right away!
1. Don’t confuse omnichannel with multichannel
We've emphasised it before: omnichannel is not the same as multichannel. We'll mention it again, because we still hear of organisations proudly talking about the number of channels they offer their customers, without them being connected to each other. The problem is that customers no longer settle for this. They expect an uninterrupted conversation, regardless of the channels through which it takes place.
But omnichannel customer contact is not only better for the customer experience. It also results in more efficient business operations, as customers can seamlessly switch channels without losing the context of the conversation. This means that time is no longer spent on unnecessarily repeating customer questions.
Moreover, omnichannel customer contact is step one in realising a 360-degree customer view. This gives employees immediate insight into the entire customer journey, and they can respond much better to the customer’s wishes and needs. Time and time again, at exactly the right time.
So what’s important is the integration of the different channels, in order to be able to deliver a comparably high level of service during every customer interaction, regardless of the channel. After all, that's what makes for a memorable customer experience!
2. Improve the response times
Customers expect an answer, preferably immediately. We all know that this can be difficult, especially during peak times, outside 'office hours', and when the contact centre is understaffed. But that is no excuse for the customer.
Therefore, where possible, use technology that helps you with this. For example, provide an automatic reply that indicates the estimated waiting time and answers frequently asked questions. Or deploy a bot that can help customers on their way.
In addition, be aware of the fact that not every channel requires the same response time. Social media is in most cases more urgent than, for example, email. That does not mean that the customer demand is necessarily more urgent, but the customer's expectations are! And unfortunately, social media is a 'dangerous' channel in that regard. A relatively minor problem can escalate in no time. But the reverse is also true: if you are able to react quickly and adequately, this can improve the customer relationship enormously.
What can also help improve response times in an omnichannel contact centre is a blended strategy, where employees serve different channels. This works even better if interactions are dynamically prioritised, so the most urgent ones are always answered first. This is better for the customer, creates variation for employees and ensures more efficiency in the contact centre.
3. Optimise your self-service channels
In line with the tip about improving response times: make sure that customers can independently find the answer to their question or the solution to their problem as often as possible. Research1) has shown that about half of them even prefer this. We previously wrote a blog about this.
So make as much information as possible accessible to your customers. For example, a page with frequently asked questions on your website, a user forum, interactive spoken feedback for telephone interactions, or instructional videos on YouTube.
Make sure that the information is always unambiguous, accurate and up-to-date. You can use a knowledge management solution for this that is available to employees as well as to bots and the organisation’s self-service channels.
In addition, give customers the option of making direct contact with the contact centre via the website if necessary, for example by means of an online chat function or a user-friendly web-to-call function.
1) Zendesk: Self-service: do customers want to help themselves?
4. Be mobile-friendly
More and more consumers are using their mobile phone to connect with companies, brands and organisations. One of their biggest frustrations with this is that websites are poorly accessible for mobile devices. Sites that load slowly, content that is difficult to read, contact information that cannot be tapped… They are seemingly small – and easy to fix! – annoyances, which unfortunately cause customers to drop out.
The solution? Where possible, build a user-friendly app to facilitate customer contact!
Is an app irrelevant to your organisation, product or service? Then make sure your content is mobile-friendly and give customers the option to contact the contact centre from any page with a simple button. There is a good chance that it is not necessary if you have tip 3 (self-service) in order, but making it possible in itself ensures a better customer experience.
A messaging service is also mobile-friendly. Whether you use Whatsapp, SMS or an in-house app, messages are read faster than, for example, emails, and are therefore ideally suited for proactive customer contact, for example to confirm an appointment or to proactively notify the customer of a problem.
5. Turn raw data into business intelligence
Fact: contact centres hold a wealth of data. Data about customer interactions that occur through all different channels. Data that can also provide extremely valuable information about customer behaviour. The problem is often that there is so much of it, and in many cases it is unstructured. No contact centre manager can make sense of that.
In addition, individual statistics provide a snapshot at best. Only when you put them all together does it yield a total picture that you can actually do something with. The only way to turn raw data into business intelligence is through the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and other tools and technologies that not only provide insight into massive amounts of customer data and interactions, but also make customer behaviour and needs predictable. This includes, for example, advanced interaction analysis and predictive customer analytics.
You can use the insights and results obtained from this to improve processes and working methods, for training purposes, or, for example, as a security measure against fraud. But of course also to be able to approach the customer in a more personal way!
6. Invest in the right tools
At the risk of stating the obvious: omnichannel customer contact is only possible if you have the right tools. This of course starts with a contact centre platform that offers the right basis for this, as well as a wide selection of channels, from telephony to email, chat, social media, video, etc. But in most cases it is exactly that: the beginning! Because real omnichannel customer contact requires seamless integration, not only between the different channels, but also with all kinds of backend systems, such as the CRM platform or the helpdesk software.
In addition, it pays to invest in AI tools that enable automation and personalisation. For example for:
- Reporting – for measuring and comparing all kinds of KPIs
- Interaction analysis – to structure and provide insight into large amounts of data
- Making customer behaviour predictable – in order to be able to respond very personally to the next phase of each individual customer journey
- Knowledge management – so all channels have access to a single source of correct and up-to-date information, whether they are channels that are staffed by human employees or bots, or self-service channels that the customer can use independently
- Hybrid customer contact between human and bot – thanks to the latest technologies, voice and chatbots are now perfectly able to take over repetitive tasks from employees and thus reduce the pressure in the contact centre.
Thanks to these kinds of tools, you not only improve the customer experience, but you also increase the chance of upsales, for example!
7. Think about data security
Contact centres are of great interest to cyber criminals, since they are the place where a lot of sensitive information is located. For example customer names, telephone numbers, social security numbers and payment information. Due to the fact that this information is not always (only) stored in a CRM system in the cloud, but also, for example, on employees' computers and on company servers, data leaks can cause major security risks. And the more touchpoints or channels, the more vulnerable the contact centre.
And if things go wrong, it is not just the financial consequences of a data breach that can have a huge impact. It is your company’s reputation and the trust of its customers that ultimately matters the most. Customers are simply not very forgiving when it comes to a violation of their privacy. So invest in optimal data security to ensure that customer data is safe.
8. Ensure continuity
Omnichannel customer contact works best in organisations that are able to deliver a consistent customer experience. Continuity at any time of the day, through any channel, as this creates customer trust. But not only that: it also ensures more contact centre efficiency.
Therefore, it is important that the customer always receives the same answer. Whether he is looking for information on the website, or interacting with a bot or a human employee. Face-to-face or via email, chat or social media.
In addition, ensure that – where necessary – the transition from a self-service interaction to a conversation with an agent is seamless, so the conversation continues effortlessly without any information being lost. The only way to achieve this is to have all channels managed by the contact centre, and not, for example, to have social media interactions handled by the marketing team. Be consistent!
9. Don’t forget your team!
Although the right tools are indispensable, you won’t get anywhere without your employees. The success of the omnichannel strategy is largely in the hands of the customer contact team. And that success must not be taken for granted! So pay attention to this aspect. Even though everyone should be aware of the different channels that the organisation offers, this does not necessarily mean that everyone should be deployable on every channel.
- Determine your strategy. Do you have different teams for different channels? Do employees work on a single channel per time slot? Is a distinction made between telephony and digital channels such as email, chat and social media? Or are employees expected to be fully deployable flexibly, the so-called blended approach?
- Look at the individual. Whichever strategy you choose, look at what best suits each individual. One functions better as a 'mono-tasker', while another may find this extremely boring and much prefers some variety. And sometimes it's just a matter of time before an employee grows to more – or less! – challenge in their work.
- Provide tailor-made training… especially when channels are added to the contact centre platform over time. For example, don't just assume that someone is immediately available for chat conversations if they are proficient at answering emails. Or that they can make video calls just as easily as via phone. Each channel requires a – sometimes subtly – different approach and different skills, for example in terms of response times and tone of voice.
10.Test and optimise
Be aware that the customer experience is made up of many moving parts. The only way to be sure that everything works optimally is to endlessly test and keep tweaking. What are the response times? How do the different interactions flow, and what is the feedback from the customer? Are there differences between the channels? Remember: it is always better for you to detect errors or problems rather than the customer!
In addition, make sure you have a solid strategy on paper in which all processes and best practices are described. This way everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them. Coordinating a seamless transition between channels and between teams is the best way to ensure that the customer experience is truly omnichannel.
Are you looking for a new omnichannel customer contact solution for your organisation, or could you use some help optimising the existing platform? Let us know! We are happy to help you.
Whitepaper ‘From cost centre to centre stage’
In our whitepaper ‘From cost centre to centre stage: the effect of employee satisfaction on the customer experience’ we focus on the employee. We look at factors that have a positive effect on their well-being, and what their impact is on the customer experience and the business results. Twenty pages of useful information that you can apply immediately.
How do you make your contact centre a success for employee, customer and management? In other words, how do you change it from a cost centre to the centre stage of the organisation?
Would you like to find out how to achieve this?
At DDM Consulting we believe that our customers benefit most from tailor-made advice, without preference for a particular product or specific supplier. That is why we offer a wide range of intelligent omnichannel contact centre solutions, delivered by renowned partners who are all specialists in their field. This approach makes us flexible in finding the solution that best suits our customers’ specific needs and ambitions.
We guarantee a successful implementation, ensure integration with all existing back-end systems, and take care of managing and maintaining the platform. Our clients come from a wide range of sectors, from major financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies, to telecom operators, healthcare institutions, government agencies, retail, and media. We are especially known for delivering customised solutions for corporate clients with complex structures, such as customer-specific integrations with back-end systems and the development of add-ons. Sometimes we even build a completely new product! That is how we ensure that the chosen contact centre solution exactly matches our customer’s wishes, needs and business processes.
We have grown into a team of about 30 contact centre experts and are mainly active in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.