The Path to a True Omnichannel Customer Experience

When evaluating a so-called “omnichannel customer experience platform” and trying to understand how it’ll fit into your existing technology stack, start with a look inside the platform itself. Yes, open APIs are important and support for industry standard protocols is table stakes. But before diving too deep into integrations with other systems, examine the core structure of a platform itself first.

Omnichannel is about much more than simply checking off a laundry list of channels the platform offers. It’s important to peel back the layers to see how the platform delivers those channels.

  • Is there a single routing engine that all channels share?
  • Is there a single reporting engine that all channels use?
  • Is there a single point of administration to manage agents on all channels?
  • Or is the platform actually a hodgepodge of technologies, with hidden silos existing inside of the platform — before you even think about connecting to another system or source of data?

Consider how much more difficult it will be to integrate systems together, when the omnichannel solution you bought has key information isolated in separate databases because multiple different technologies — perhaps white labeled third-party solutions — are being used under the covers.

The Disconnected Journey

When you’re tasked with connecting your systems to create a truly differentiating omnichannel customer experience strategy, consider this rather silly series of events:

  1. Today, I text my friend Charlie and invite him over to watch a big game on Saturday.
  2. Tomorrow, Charlie calls me and asks if he can bring anything. I ask him, “Bring anything? To what? When?”
  3. On Saturday, Charlie shows up at my house. When I open the door, I ask him, “Who are you? What do you want?”

While this example sounds pretty outlandish for how we live and communicate with each other personally, this is exactly the type of situation that many customers deal with when working with an organization that suffers from siloed channels and systems.

We all have our own story of a painfully disconnected journey that we’ve experienced when trying to resolve an issue. It’s easy to make up stories like the one above that are clearly undesirable states. But defining — and successfully executing on — the ideal state isn’t always easy.

A Careful Balance of Technology Strategies

It’s safe to say that no IT leader gets excited about adding another system or application to their existing technology stack. At the same time, it’s naïve to think that your entire customer experience strategy can live completely within one system.

A careful balance must be achieved, with a “system of systems” that consolidate capabilities and data when appropriate, but that can also cooperate with each other. I hesitate to use the term integrate here because it’s frequently used far too loosely, usually without much regard to what it specifically means. I intentionally use a more personal term of cooperating, because that helps get to the root of how to strike this balance.

To integrate two applications might simply mean that data can flow between the applications. That’s obviously a start, but this doesn’t really imply that either system is actually going to make experiences better for your customers or your employees. As an example, let’s think about your contact center platform and your marketing automation platform.

If I’m evaluating a new contact center platform, and it’s advertised as having “integrations to leading marketing automation systems,” that sounds great. But you need to be sure you know what that means. It might mean that when a customer initiates a web chat, the agent’s (already overloaded) interface has an additional tab the agent can see every outbound email that the marketing automation system has sent to that customer.

Sure, that sounds like a cool integration. And it might occasionally be useful for the agent to have a reference of everything that has been advertised to the customer. But this “integration” probably doesn’t make either system better at actually delivering a differentiating omnichannel customer experience for your brand.

Let’s contrast this simple “integration” with another example, where the contact center platform and the marketing automation platform work together and actually make each other smarter.

When a bank’s marketing automation platform sends out a promotional email about a new credit card, the contact center platform recognizes customers who click through from that email. The platform can then intelligently predict the exact right moment to offer a proactive chat invite, based on the outcomes of past chat sessions with similar customers who were interested in that new credit card.

A personalized invitation to chat is offered at just the right moment — and the chat session is immediately routed to a credit card specialist, based on the understanding of what email campaign brought in the visitor. The credit card specialist is provided with a condensed summary of information about exactly how likely this customer is to sign up for the credit card — data combined from both the marketing automation platform and the contact center platform. Taking this one step further, because the contact center platform has data about every conversation with customers interested in a credit card, an even smarter routing decision can be made. Knowing the outcomes of all recent web chats, the contact center platform can predict — in real-time — which credit card specialist has the highest probability of converting prospects of this exact marketing campaign and route the web chat accordingly.

In an ideal world, this chat would result in the customer signing up for the credit card immediately. This would allow both systems to become smarter about how and when these successful conversions occur. And if the customer still needs some more time to think about the offer, when the chat agent wraps up the chat session, it automatically feeds the result back to the marketing automation platform about the customer’s lead status. This now makes the marketing automation platform more intelligent about the customer’s strong interest in the credit card.

Both systems made each other more intelligent than they could have been independently: The contact center platform couldn’t have made as intelligent of a routing decision without the marketing automation system data. The marketing automation platform couldn’t have as complete of an understanding about the customer’s interest based on the outcome of a chat handled by the contact center platform.

A Perfect Opportunity for Cloud Migration

When looking for ways to simplify your existing technology stack — while planning for meaningful integrations — you’ll likely find yourself exploring cloud offerings. Coupled with benefits like high availability and scalability, your ability to be agile can increase greatly. Cloud-based technology can free you from the time and hassles of constantly patching servers and scheduling upgrade windows. It’s important, however, to consider the variety of solution types available.

You’ll certainly come across applications that might be quick and easy to turn on but lack substantial customizability or integration capabilities. It might have a few more bells and whistles, but you’ll need to carefully consider if those shiny features are worth more than the value of consolidating your data.

Conversely, weigh the pros and cons of a platform that’s essentially just a toolbox. A platform that completely relies on you building with APIs is great for building anything you want, but it also requires building everything you need. And it’s also on you to document and support everything you’ve built.

The ideal is often seen as a product that’s also a platform. Consider this balance, where the core capabilities you need for your business are ready to go, but you also get the flexibility to customize and extend the platform based on your individual needs.

Set Yourself on the Right Omnichannel Path

Across channels and across systems, you don’t want to be in a position where you’re forced to ask the customer, “Who are you? What do you want?” It’s well-established that we’re inundated with data these days. So many systems generate seemingly infinite amounts of data, and I certainly won’t claim that it’s a simple one-click fix.

Set yourself on the right path to achieving truly differentiated omnichannel customer experience when investing in a platform that combines:

  1. A foundationally unified baseline for all channels
  2. A modular approach of best practices for extending capabilities
  3. Proven methods for meaningful ways of sharing data and collaborating with other systems to make each other more intelligent

If you’re ready to design your best omnichannel customer experience, use the Genesys CX Blueprint Builder to get started today.