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The Evolving Omnichannel Experience

The Evolving Omnichannel Experience

/ Current Issue, Operations, Technology, Omnichannel
The Evolving Omnichannel Experience

Customers want personalization and consistency from contact centers.

It’s no secret that our world has been nearly flipped on its head over the past few years and, with it, the digital world as well.

The current virtual-first era requires a shift to all-in-one solutions built to meet needs in an instant. With rising demand to provide a unified omnichannel experience (TechTarget) for customers around the world, agents have worked day in and day out to keep up with the pace.

New channels like video and messaging apps add more nuance to the conversation, requiring agents to adjust their foundational practices and apply them to best suit new platforms.

The key distinction here is the customer centricity of an omnichannel approach. Rather than promoting products or services through just a few channels, organizations now need to meet the needs of their customers through every available platform.

But that then begs the question: how do we provide a superior customer experience across a bevy of channels that each serve their own specific, nuanced purposes?

To do so, we first need to identify the challenges agents face when engaging with customers.

Ensuring Agents Provide a True Omnichannel Experience

What separates a basic multichannel experience from an omnichannel experience is the ease in which a user can access and interact with various channels. Yet, creating a seamless user experience (UX) is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges organizations face when strategizing an omnichannel experience.

How a company brands itself is at the heart of providing this omnichannel experience, so an organization must ensure branding is consistent throughout. The user must feel no difference in experience when accessing an organization’s product, services, etc., whether it be through mobile, desktop, call, or chat.

Agents serve as the human connection in an omnichannel strategy, granting them an integral role in the UX. However, it’s important that they work collaboratively with automated channels, oftentimes the first brand touchpoint for customers.

New channels like video and messaging apps add more nuance to the conversation...

UX has a strong bearing on brand reputation. And if new or existing customers find that their interactions across channels are inconsistent, they may begin to explore other vendor options.

These points underscore the importance of management’s alignment with and contribution to the overall experience.

Agents and customer-facing employees should be educated on how to smooth channel transitions to deliver the optimal omnichannel experience. Especially as nascent technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) begin to change the landscape. Such tools can be a way to smooth out the customer journey, but that’s only possible with the right degree of familiarity on the agent side.

While using consistent branding and user interface (UI) across all platforms is important, it is just as important to ensure the language agents use in chats is consistent as well.

When 59% of customers cite the amount of time needed to solve issues as a top frustration with customer service, the importance of direct and easy communication becomes clear.

With that in mind, it should be a no-brainer for companies to ensure that users only must supply information once and have it accessible to agents across all platforms. With customers utilizing multiple channels, offering the same level of customer service through any channel is also vital.

For example, if a user primarily contacts agents via desktop channels, but runs into an issue while out of office, they will expect the same level of interaction with agents while on a mobile channel.

Further, it’s important to allow customers to access the same portals on each platform offered within the omnichannel strategy. If a customer must switch from mobile to desktop to access a certain product, it creates an inconsistency in branding.

Helping Teams Carry Personalized Experiences Across Channels

For the foreseeable future, personalization of experiences will be the most crucial element an organization can take to retain customers. The ability to provide a tailored experience through proprietary means is what will keep customers from jumping to competitors, even when they might be able to save a few dollars with the switch.

Personalized experiences fuel customer loyalty, which is vital for brands. Ultimately, the businesses that will be most successful at creating these tailored experiences will be those that arm their agents with tools to easily access and utilize user data.

This includes solutions that allow agents to lead customers through a consistently unique experience that does not lag between channels. For example, if utilizing a loyalty program, it should be accessible on both desktop and mobile channels.

You cannot have a true omnichannel experience without all CX-related teams operating indistinguishably from one another.

It’s also important that user data is accessible throughout the entire tech stack to help enable this seamless experience across channels. Employing a platform which houses, tracks, and most importantly, is universally accessible to all agents through every channel, will allow the omnichannel experience to carry consistent personalization.

Additionally, an agent’s ability to interpret available data in a meaningful way that can impact the customer’s interactions with the brand is just as important as knocking down data silos between channels.

It is crucial to educate and instill confidence in all team members so they can effectively tap into user data, which not only allows them to evaluate customer behavior but encourages them to ensure data is current. This, in turn, mitigates risk of miscommunication with customers that could ruin the experience, such as sharing the wrong information about product availability.

Creating Consistency via Effective Leadership

You cannot have a true omnichannel experience without all CX-related teams operating indistinguishably from one another. Silos between teams — including sales, marketing, logistics, product, etc. -- can create bottlenecks for customers and negatively impact experience.

Effective leadership will prioritize consistency, which is integral to creating a sustainable omnichannel experience.

...leadership should still prepare for how to combat challenges...

It is just as important for internal teams to be able to communicate effectively with each other as it is for customer data to be shared between channels. After all, one of the biggest barriers to a consistent CX would be an agent overpromising and under-delivering, especially when due to something as preventable as internal miscommunication.

Even with the right technology and agent training in place, leadership should still prepare for how to combat challenges once the omnichannel strategy is being fully executed across the business.

There may be tentative plans in place during the strategizing phase, but things can quickly change during operation. This means leadership must have concrete strategies and desired outcomes for agents in place, creating clear actions to hold teams accountable but also providing resources and support where needed.

Fostering communication amongst agents and internal teams will promote a more open culture and in turn prevent teams from becoming siloed. It will also encourage collaboration and knowledge-sharing that will impact the CX. When employees communicate regularly and help each other solve problems, it can mitigate inconsistent messaging and information passed on to customers.

Connecting Agents to Better Connect Your Channels

Agents play a crucially important role in the omnichannel experience, with the ability to make or break the CX.

To solve bottlenecks affecting agents in the omnichannel experience, organizations must lead by example, creating a culture of open communication and accessibility to assets. Organizations must assist their teams by fostering an environment which is seamless itself, creating a frictionless path for their teams to offer their customers a superior experience.

Joseph Walsh

Joseph Walsh

Joseph serves as GoTo’s VP, Global Product Marketing & Site Leader for its UCC business overseeing efforts for products such as GoTo Connect. Joseph is a tech marketer with a successful track record of helping organizations improve their customer and employee experience, drive greater employee engagement, and grow revenue by embracing digital technology.

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