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How to Get Omni-Channel Right

Posted by Mandeep Singh Kwatra

This is an excerpt from an article that was published in CRM Magazine in August 2015.

Over the last five years, every industry has been talking about how to maximize consumer reach and provide a seamless consumer management experience. An experience, which is truly holistic and unified, provides the same information to consumers regardless of the channels they use to connect with the brand.
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While voice contact is still one of the strongest service channels, the consumer management world evolved to include email and chat, followed by social media and mobile apps. A recent Gartner report shows that the consumer channel preference will shift more towards channels such as social media and digital self-help by 2018, with approximately 70% of interactions taking place through these digital channels.

It’s Not About a Person
To deliver the omni-channel consumer experience, it is very important to understand that today’s consumer is not a single person. It is a household, and therefore there is a strong need to have a total household consumer management strategy.

Channel options are growing, and the entire consumer engagement environment is becoming complex. Every year a new channel is added and the systems are not necessarily able to cope with the integration of communication across these different channels. This leads to silos, creating operational inefficiencies. More and more companies every day are working towards structuring their contact centers and systems to gain a single view of the consumer. But typically they miss a key point: how to provide a single view of the brand to the consumer.

To successfully implement an omni-channel experience, it is important for brands and businesses to consider these elements:

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  1. Understand the consumer journey. When adapting an omni-channel experience model, it is important to understand the focus. Are you trying to raise brand awareness by having your logo on every channel, or do you want to optimize the consumer journey?Image removed.Before deciding what channels to offer your consumers, it’s important to understand the end-to-end consumer journey, the decision-making cycle of the consumer in the buying process, the reason why consumers leave, and the pain areas at different steps of a consumer lifecycle with your brand.
  2. Consumer comfort comes first. There are two critical aspects of this element: reducing consumer effort and optimizing the experience.When it comes to reducing consumer effort, in today’s fast-paced world, the majority of consumers want to be in charge of managing the services they use including their transactions, troubleshooting and resolving a technical issue, buying a product, etc. As a result, they are more than ready to help themselves find an answer. Using self-help tools eliminates the need to be on hold or wait in a queue.
  3. Be proactive. Proactive service relies on customer context, channel, and device information and predictive intelligence frameworks to manage proactive communications. Proactive outbound communication helps reduce traffic from inbound calls, helps reduce costs, builds customer satisfaction and net promoter scores, with the increase in revenue.
  4. Understand the power of knowledge. In the process of developing an omni-channel consumer engagement experience, which helps in delivering a unified and standard message across all consumer interaction channels, the smart knowledge base capability plays a pivotal role. It is very important for businesses trying to deliver services through web self-service to provide agent-based communication channels.Image removed.Knowledge management, in combination with online self-help tools, can help reduce manual overhead and provide dynamic engagement solutions: interactive self-help models that use artificial intelligence, analytics, insights, etc., to automate the communication channels at different levels across channels.
  5. Be tech savvy. With new channels evolving so rapidly, businesses often end up adding multiple channels, but their inability to interact with multiple back-end systems that an agent uses restricts the optimization of an omni-channel environment and businesses keep using the channels and systems in silos.

To be successful in the deployment of an omni-channel consumer engagement model, it’s important for businesses to adapt technologies like system unifiers. These unifiers help capture the data from multiple agent systems and bring it together on one display area and can also feed the data back to the systems when the agent has updated the interaction in a system.

Today the consumer owns the relationship they have with the brand. As the consumer manages the control of the interactions, it’s important for businesses to deliver differentiated service. Based on the size of the business and the size of the requirement, businesses will undertake several mid to large strategic projects to improve the placement of quality of service scores, voice of customer, etc. To succeed in an omni-channel consumer experience deployment, the business needs to be sure to:

Image removed.Understand the consumer. Talk to consumers, survey consumers, understand how they want to be serviced, capture their feedback on level of service, ease of service, etc. This information can then be utilized to design new consumer journey maps, servicing methods, reducing consumer effort plans, etc.

Assess your service delivery model. Conduct periodic checks on your service delivery process, systems, support processes, etc. Use this data to identify the changes required for developing a robust omni-channel consumer management model.

Identify improvement opportunities. Evaluate the operational process and systems assessment data, mapped with the consumer dynamics and feedback to identify the quick wins and long-term strategic opportunities that can help scale and build new arenas of consumer management or self-help.

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