Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Strategies Must Provide Seamless Customer Experience

May 04, 2016

So you’ve got an omni-channel customer engagement strategy. You’ve put agents on phones, email, Web chat, mobile channels and social media. You’re even flirting with live video help. You’ve heard about chat bots, and how they can improve your self-service. You’ve spent a lot of time and money in your efforts, but something’s still wrong. Your customer engagement hasn’t improved any, your agents are losing their minds, and the executive wing is wondering when their return on investment (ROI) is going to arrive. Sound familiar?

Most organizations in this position are starting to understand (or will soon) that all the channels don’t mean much if they’re not tied together in a way that allows customers to traverse them easily, according to a recent blog post by Aspect’s (News - Alert) Chris O’Brien.

“Customers aren’t just demanding more ways to interact, they’re demanding a seamless experience from one channel to the next,” she wrote.

Much of the omni-channel customer engagement impetus is lost when companies attempt to tie together disparate channels through different solutions that don’t integrate together properly (or at all). It doesn’t matter how many channels you offer if customers can use only one at a time. O’Brien notes that companies should examine whether they’re locking customers into separate silos that prevent them from offering a seamless customer experience.

“While nearly all customers use more than one channel to communicate with companies, 65 percent are frustrated by inconsistent experiences,” according to an infographic prepared by Aspect and based on an Accenture (News - Alert) study.

Another big mistake is failing to engage customers where they are. Many companies give in to the temptation to “herd” customers into the channels they want to support. But with customer expectations as high as they are today, this simply won’t work. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans are using social media today, and most of them expect to be able to engage with companies via these channels. The truth is that most companies don’t even have a viable social media presence yet.

In an effort to “make things work better,” companies are putting procedures in place that are actually obstacles to good customer service. You may have great intentions with your self-service program, but if you are (for example) building IVRs with too many layers and no obvious path to a live agent, you’re throwing cold water onto the omni-channel customer engagement channel you’re trying to heat up.

Going forward, the most important theme of your omnichannel customer engagement strategy needs to be “easy.” Americans’ patience with bad service is decreasing, and their expectations are going up. The quality of customer support is one of the most important factors customers cite when choosing to do business with a company. According to the same Accenture study mentioned in the Aspect infographic, 81 percent of customers admit that it’s frustrating dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them.

Build an omni-channel strategy, but build it with a solid foundation, and ensure that customers can easily “channel surf” and use their own initiative to find the best journey to a great customer experience.  

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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