Omnichannel, Customer Journeys And Contact Center Performance

October, 2020

In this mega blog, we are going to look at omnichannel's health and relevance. And if it is in a mortal state, what comes next and what does it mean for great customer journeys and contact center performance?

What’s the word that everyone in marketing either loves or hates? Yes, it is omnichannel. Everyone says they do it, apart from a few, who have declared its imminent death!

In this mega blog, for which we make no apologies, we are going to look at its health and relevance. And if it is in a mortal state, what comes next? And what does it mean for great customer journeys and contact center performance?

Let’s start with the view from the customer side …

The customer experience

Omnichannel describes a process whereby companies offer all media channels (voice, email, chat, social, SMS, etc) so that customers can be connected to and with, in any which way. But for it to mean anything, customers must be able to glide smoothly from one channel to another.

So, imagine we have a voice call and then the customer expects this to be followed immediately by his preferred method of contact, which might be say a WhatsApp message or an SMS. Any self-respecting company should be able to do the necessary join up in reasonable time. Maybe not immediately, but no more than minutes, if they have to log out of one system and then log into another. Nothing remarkable in this.

But omnichannel, from a customer delivery viewpoint is often used to describe something beyond this: it is not just a communications issue that is being solved, but the effective provision and delivery of goods and services to the customer. Binding these two things together gives what we know as effective customer journeys.

And this of course, is the essence of great CX, not just the communications or omnichannel element. For example, a customer might enquire when a delivery will be made and receives a prompt text in response saying that he will be advised in due course. Omnichannel, yes, but not an effective customer journey.

Terminology does matter. If you are an organisation vaunting your grasp of omnichannel for your customers, it’s not enough. What your customers really want is for you to master your supply chain so that you can give precise feedback as to how the customers’ demands and wishes are being met.

So why do some companies talk about their omnichannel capabilities to their customers, rather than their ability to deliver a great customer journey? Well, omnichannel is the easy bit, but integrated service and delivery chains are a step up from this and something that most companies still struggle with. Moving beyond just omnichannel to get great CX means mastering very many customer journeys, some of which be unique to individual customers.

So how do your promote yourself as CX friendly, when the range of customer journeys demanded of you is endless? There are many answers to this question which are really outside the scope of this article. One of them might be not to boast about your omnichannel capabilities! Everyone has them. Think instead about your ability to deliver a range of goods and services in a timely way that continually delights your customers. And maybe there’s scope for some new analytics providers measuring customer journeys in particular industries and providing ranking measures to help customers choose.

Some readers may feel that not only is omnichannel a done deed everywhere, but that all companies are now on top of their customer journeys and CX is in everyone’s grasp.

Just not so. Take a few minutes to read the real life case study.

The agent experience

Now let’s consider omnichannel from the perspective of the contact center agent.

When we consider deployment of software in contact centers, omnichannel takes on a rather different meaning. Again, it means the ability of a contact center to communicate with its customers via all media channels. And as we noted earlier, this is just par for the course. Contact centers habitually deploy campaigns using different media channels.

But this doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. The customer may get the omnichannel experience they want, but it may not be a proper customer journey and it is very inefficient for the agent. And this is because, very often, access to different media types is siloed. This means that if a customer wants a voice call to be followed up by a contact using his preferred method of contact, as we pointed out above, it is not unlikely that the agent will need to log off one media channel and into another. Omnichannel, of itself, tells us precisely nothing as to how media channels work together.

So, what comes next?

The good news is that you can expect contact centers of the future to do two new standout things, that go well beyond the basics of omnichannel and have a massive impact on the role of the agent.

  • Agents will be able to handle a range of media sessions concurrently. For example, they could be dealing with say three chats and could be asked at the same moment to handle an inbound call.
  • Contact centers will automatically load balance across all campaigns, no matter what the media type: in other words, blending across all channels. What does the supervisor do? They set SLAs and let the software do the rest.

Sounds easy? It is not, and it’s a world away from simple omnichannel.

The engine room of the software driving this change has to figure out whether passing a voice call to the agent would compromise chat SLAs (both handling times and response times) and balances this against impact on voice SLA. To do this properly the software has to deal with a multidimensional problem:

  1. Multi-disciplinary agents will have skills across lots of workloads
  2. There will be multiple queues across many different projects that all have to be balanced
  3. Some agents will be better than others at handling multiple sessions.

The only way this all works is if you have an engine at the heart of the contact center software that manages all these matters in real-time.

This new way of managing brings some huge advantages to the contact center:

  1. The job of the agent becomes much varied and job satisfaction will rise as agent turnover falls
  2. The act of load balancing easily across all channels means a reduction in agent idle time, with the scope for substantial productivity improvements.

 

Don’t be fooled by systems with fancy agent screen layouts, which buzz with options to handle all media sessions at the touch of a button. The acid test is: do they provide dynamic media blending and automatic load balancing in the way described here? Almost certainly not.

So, by all means keep talking about omnichannel in the context of how contact center agents work with all media channels, but understand it’s just a starting point for the development of much more effective contact centers in the future.

That future is with Sytel now.

Want to know more? Then just talk to us.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC), offering multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment by partners offering CCaaS or enterprise users. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

  • Flexible Contact Center Platform

    Softdial Contact Center™ – tightly integrated modules, designed to deliver at scale

  • Blended Media Desktop

    Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

  • Work Anywhere

    Browser-based tools, no software installation required

  • Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

    Scalable, resilient, secure, proven

  • Customise, Localise, White Label

    Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

  • Integration Via APIs

    ‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps

  • World Class Development

    Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries

Capabilities

Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

  • All Media Types

    Voice, chat, email, social, etc – fully integrated and blended

  • Agent Multi-Tasking

    Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type

  • Dynamic Media Blending

    Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to blend and balance work load across all media types

  • Predictive Dialing

    Best-of-breed performance under compliance

  • Intelligent Routing

    Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service

  • Agent Scripts

    Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

  • Voice and Screen Recording

    See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

  • Analytics and Data Feeds

    Measure and evaluate performance at every level

  • IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

    Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

  • Customer Journey Tracking

    Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations

Modules

A complete suite of tools, with unique flexibility to extend and swap out modules to deliver a tailored contact center solution for any environment

  • Softdial One™

    Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

  • Softdial Scripter™

    Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

  • Sytel AI Dialer™

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing under any compliance rules

  • Softdial Pathfinder™

    Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection

  • Softdial Media Server™

    Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

  • Softdial Reporter™ 5

    Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

  • Softdial Publisher™

    Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

  • Softdial Recording Monitor™

    Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

  • Softdial Campaign Manager™

    Comprehensive configuration and control for outbound campaigns

  • Softdial Repository™

    Central storage and configuration of common resources

  • Sytel Global Compliance™

    Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer

Markets

Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

  • Customer Service

    Connect quickly to well equipped agents

  • Sales & Telemarketing

    Maximise agent productivity with best-of-breed predictive dialing

  • Healthcare

    Secure, highly-configurable multichannel communications for excellence in patient care

  • Market Research

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

  • Collections

    Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app