For decades, contact center and CX organizations have strived to become “omnichannel.” Rather than force customers into interactions dictated by the company, an omnichannel system enables customers to engage with a brand on their channel of choice when, where, and how they prefer.
It’s a great idea, but implementation has proven very difficult, especially for large enterprise organizations working with legacy data and siloed systems. True omnichannel implementation requires integrated contact center software, skilled associates, and customer analytics to connect and orchestrate the customer journey. And that’s much easier said than done.
Separate buzzwords from reality
One obstacle to achieving omnichannel experiences involves how the term, “omnichannel,” is defined. Companies often mistake it for multichannel operations, where customer interactions occur on multiple channels – voice, SMS, chat, social media, etc.
A company is not “omnichannel” just because it is capable of interacting with customers across all channels. If “omnichannel” is to mean anything at all, it must facilitate a customer experience that is seamlessly integrated across all the different channels any particular customer chooses.
A company can only be considered to have “omnichannel” capabilities if the history and context of each customer’s interactions in one channel are flawlessly carried over into the next channel, and the next, and the next.
Though the concept has been discussed for over a decade, more than half of companies still struggle to meet this omnichannel imperative. According to 2023 Omdia research:
- 62% of companies can’t engage across channels in a personalized way
- 55% can’t predict customer needs
- 42% are challenged with using data to obtain customer insights
Gen AI to the rescue?
Generative AI is changing this landscape, said Omdia Principal Analyst Mila D’Antonio at a recent conference. Generative AI bypasses the rules-based functions that hindered previous omnichannel efforts to get closer to an omnichannel reality with personalized responses, content, and product decisions. If the underlying Large Language Model (LLM) contains comprehensive data and integration from multiple sources, you can apply AI across channels to give information context and customers more control in whatever channel they use.
It could be a key to unlocking the promise of omnichannel in the CX world.