"Omnichannel is about quality not quantity"
Nicola Millard, principal innovation partner at BT, explains why omnichannel models should focus on channel integration quality rather than channel quantity.
Many organizations believe that an omnichannel approach must include as many channels as possible. However, BT’s Millard believes brands should focus on reducing fragmentation between the channels they have mastered rather than adding as many channels as possible.
“Research shows that more channels you give customers the more channels they use, so it’s not a case of substitution”, says Millard.
It is not unusual for a customer to use several channels at the same time, particularly when they are anxious or are experiencing long wait-times. This is problematic because the customer receives multiple, sometimes conflicting, experiences for the same issue. This is largely inefficient for the brand and potentially frustrating for the customer.
Millard explains: “The danger is that one customer problem is answered by three different teams who deliver disconnected experiences.” She adds: “Good companies make sure channels are connected and coordinated, if channels aren’t connected it increases internal costs as you end up handling the same issue several times.”
Overcoming channel silos
This disconnect between channels tends to arise because organizations silo their channels, with specialist agents sticking to one form of customer contact (phone, email etc.). Millard believes a solution is to train multi-disciplinary agents. She maintains this objective is more feasible than ever before, because in today’s society individuals naturally interact with multiple channels in their personal lives.
Multi-disciplinary training will enable brands to upgrade the blends between channels. Even though they are communicating with the brand via multiple channels, customers will interact with one agent. A set-up which will limit fragmentations and inconsistencies in the customer care received.
“Nothing is more frustrating than a customer having to switch channels and start again, so channels must be connected”, explains Millard. “For example, many companies use chatbots. It Is important this chatbot is integrated with the call center. So if the bot fails and needs to transfer the customer to a human, the agent is up to speed with the conversation.” By swiftly briefing the human agent on the situation, the customer does not have to waste time relaying the issue.
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When channels are properly connected and agents are trained into the omnichannel model, customers are saved from having to repeat themselves or troubleshoot the same issue multiple times. The end result is a more seamless customer experience that is focused on boosting customer retention by alleviating customer frustrations and simultaneously reduces organizational costs for issue resolution.