Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

Maintaining Continuity from Self-Service to Live Help Key to Omni-Channel Approach

April 18, 2016

How’s your customer service? Is it great? Do you offer a terrific omni-channel customer experience? That’s a good thing. Do you think your work is finished? It’s not. Customer engagement is an ever-evolving concept, and just as customer preferences in communications media change regularly (think of the social media channels that were hot last year, and how hot they’re not this year), so too does the customer experience need to change and evolve.

It’s important for companies to understand which roles self-service technologies can play and where fast escalation to a live agent is mandatory. It’s also important for channels to complement one another. Today’s technology and what will be developed in the coming years will actually drive even better live, one-on-one service delivered by agents, according to a recent blog post by Aspect’s (News - Alert) Evan Dobkin.          

“This is an important concept for businesses to keep in mind as they move into a period of transforming from a phone-based contact center to an omnichannel customer engagement center with increasing attention and resources to offering self-service options across more channels,” wrote Dobkin.

In other words, it’s a mistake to try and railroad customers into self-service channels the company chooses. Instead, each manner of self-service -- tools such as chat bots, knowledge bases with NLU in front, and disposable mobile web applications – should have their own escalation process to live agent support. Parallel channels can exist, but only if there is easy cross-over between them, and creating a contact center with this kind of omnichannel customer engagement capability will mean providing agents with the right solutions and desktop to achieve it, according to Dobkin, if organizations hope to ensure the quality of their performance trends in parallel.

Routing will also be a critical step here, to ensure that customers that have already been inside a self-service area are connected with an agent immediately. Nothing will put customers off faster than being asked to wait after their self-service experience did not meet their needs.

“A deep set of self-service options means any inquiry that reaches the agent has in fact been ‘elevated’ beyond self-service and automation because of its complexity,” wrote Dobkin. “Customer expectations for agents are likely to align with the expectations they have for the business: ‘Know who I am, Make it easy and Save me time.’”

Getting one of these areas right isn’t going to impress customers: it has to be all three at once. It not only needs to be the customer’s reality, but also the agent’s reality. All the whip-cracking in the world won’t help agents deliver a better omnichannel customer experience if they simply don’t have the tools to pull it off. With the right solutions (and training to use them properly), agents can elevate their level of competence and be where customers need them – when they need them – at all times.

Maintaining the continuity of the interaction as it crosses from self to live-service is critical to achieving omnichannel customer engagement. It’s not just about channel-to-channel…it’s about being ready, available and able to help when the customer makes a choice to escalate. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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