Customer Support: Addressing the Omnichannel Imperative

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Omnichannel
Customer Service
Omnichannel might be hot, but that doesn't mean that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Based on anecdotal feedback I gathered from user companies and vendors while attending Call Center Week earlier this month, not to mention market research on the topic, it's fairly clear that many enterprise companies are investing to expand their omnichannel customer support capabilities. However, small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) are more likely to only offer support across a couple of channels (primarily voice and email), largely due to resource and budget constraints. Indeed, contact center and customer experience leaders from smaller companies continue to wrestle with effective strategies for determining the best digital channels to add based on what their customers and high-value prospects are most likely to want to use.

Omnichannel might be hot, but that doesn't mean that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Based on anecdotal feedback I gathered from user companies and vendors while attending Call Center Week earlier this month, not to mention market research on the topic, it's fairly clear that many enterprise companies are investing to expand their omnichannel customer support capabilities. However, small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) are more likely to only offer support across a couple of channels (primarily voice and email), largely due to resource and budget constraints. Indeed, contact center and customer experience leaders from smaller companies continue to wrestle with effective strategies for determining the best digital channels to add based on what their customers and high-value prospects are most likely to want to use. Making the right call can be challenging for enterprise companies as well. A contact center leader for a large retailer was telling me recently how customer usage for a video chat service it's testing is much lower than expected even though all indications were that it was a channel option that its customers wanted.

In order to provide the types of omnichannel support experiences customers expect, it's essential for agents to have the most current customer data possible to provide relevant and contextual support, says Niren Sirohi, vice president of predictive analytics at iKnowtion. This includes data that can be drawn from CRM, omnichannel support systems, and other systems to obtain a more complete picture of the cross-channel customer experience. Predictive analytics can then be applied to assess customer behavior and the type of information they're looking for as they move from one channel (Web self-service) to another (chat). Agents and contact center leaders can draw on these insights to craft the types of experiences that customers are looking for.

Predictive analytics can also help small and large companies alike to determine the digital channels their customers want most for support based on sentiment that's shared in recorded call center interactions, social media, surveys, and other types of feedback. From there, customer experience teams can use these insights to pilot support for a coveted channel (e.g. mobile) and work out the kinks until it's ready for prime time.

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EXPERT OPINION