Why Omnichannel and Customer Experience Go Hand-in-Hand

Omnichannel is more than communicating with multiple channels; it means orchestrating, or linking, those channels so you can serve the customer instead of offering disjointed interactions. Here are a few examples.

  • A customer browses a website and then calls later. When they call, the company anticipates that they’re calling to complete what they started on the website, bypasses any voice self-service and then connects the customer to a knowledgeable agent who picks up where the customer left off.
  • A customer receives an email requesting information and clicks through but gets stuck on the website. The company proactively pushes information and then pushes an offer for help during the web session. When the customer accepts the help, the agent sees the email that was originally sent and helps the customer, armed with context.
  • A support problem has been going on for several days. The customer moves between voice, email and SMS to communicate information and try ideas. Regardless of the channel used, the customer is connected to the engineer in charge of their case — and all the communication is kept in one spot for reference.

True omnichannel delivers a personal experience by acting on cross-channel context. It offers an easy experience by reducing repetition as the customer switches channels. And it provides a meaningful experience as the company engages in the customer’s journey intelligently across time and channels to achieve results. These omnichannel capabilities power efficient engagement that is a win-win for good customer experience — they go hand-in-hand.

Customer Experience and Omnichannel

Customer experience is your customer’s perception of your brand. Whether you are a business-to-business, business-to-consumer, non-profit or government agency, having a good product or service isn’t enough. Engaging in a personal, easy and meaningful way is necessary and crosses all industries and brands. To do this, you need:

  • Empowered employees who engage with accuracy and empathy
  • Customer-centered processes that are transparent and efficient
  • Communication that meets the preference and the purpose of both the customer and the company to make connections

Designed well, omnichannel engagement supports these pillars. It supports empowered employees with history across channels; it exposes processes consistently; and it connects the customer and the company in a personal way that keeps the media channels as pipes versus an end unto themselves.

Customer Experience Design and Omnichannel

Here are four design considerations to power your customer experience strategy with omnichannel.

Channel Selection

As you define your customer journeys, understand that media channels generally serve purposes beyond just personal preference. Voice is the channel of emotion and complexity. Chat is the channel of the web because it keeps the customer where they choose to be. Messaging is the channel of found-time, allowing customers to engage when it’s convenient without getting tied up. Email is the channel of record, when communication needs to be formalized or referenced later. Accounting for the different purposes with a breadth of channels is key to a complete customer experience design.

Omnichannel Context

First-contact resolution is a worthy goal. Channel context comes into play in the reality of non-first-contact resolution. Multistep journeys may be a result of problems in the journey design, user error or the natural flow of some journeys. Regardless, customer experience design needs to account for multistep journeys. And considering previous activity in any channel when serving the current interaction is an essential element for personalized, easy and meaningful customer experience.

To design customer experience using channel context, you must have a place to find the context across any channel — website activity, social posts, phone calls, and emails sent or received. The fact of an activity also needs business information, particularly what journey the activity relates to. With this knowledge, the front doors are places customers reach you, like an IVR or a website, or the places from where you reach out to customers, like SMS or mobile apps. These personalize the current interaction with the customer name, with the current journey step and with information to move the journey forward.

Cross-channel context is the most powerful feature of omnichannel because it remembers who and what, regardless of where, simplifying the steps to resolution that saves effort for both the company and the customer.

Customer Experience and Channel Measurement

In establishing measures and targets for your customer experience design, keep two perspectives. First is the perspective of results — journey progress and results, the customer’s perception of the journey, the quality of the interactions that made up the journey. These measures are channel-agnostic, and the targets should also be channel-agnostic. The second perspective includes the core performance metrics like wait time, finish time, handle time and the volumes that go with them. These metrics should be the same across channels, but the targets should account for the variations in communication styles on the different channels.

Where these two perspectives intersect is where journey analytics provide insights into how different customers use different channels — and which ones result in better outcomes. Understanding these dynamics is essential to shaping your customer experience design, particularly with artificial intelligence (AI) techniques.

Consistent measurement across all channels is key to ongoing customer experience design, efficiency and quality.

Omnichannel Staffing

For most, adding channels will add work because you capture new engagements versus simply redistributing existing work volume. Hiring, planning and supporting your staff with omnichannel in mind mitigates the impact of the additional volume by using your staff efficiently.

Here are a few tips.

Hiring staff that can support multiple channels broadens your resource pool in way that makes your operations more efficient; it’s the magic of contact center math, especially when you have a mix of real-time and asynchronous channels that can fill in gaps of available time.

Consider patience thresholds for the type of work in conjunction with the channel versus assuming that all phone calls need to be answered quickly and all emails can wait when doing staff requirements planning. This keeps you from overstaffing real-time channels and under-staffing asynchronous channels.

Finally, ensure that business processes use the same tools, regardless of channel, and that the desktop is consistent. These constructs ensure employees can transition seamlessly as you or the customer requires.

Providing Consistency for Customers and Employees

Powerful customer experience design provides personal, easy and meaningful journeys. And omnichannel capabilities support that design by linking activities across channels to provide consistency and seamless transition for both customers and employees. The power of these two concepts working together is proven to drive positive customer experience and business outcomes.

In the next article in this series, we’ll explore why realizing the value of an omnichannel design is still less common that you’d think — and how you can buck the trend.

Discover how to build your omnichannel CX blueprint today.