A multichannel contact center is a central point from which an organization handles customer communication across multiple channels, from phone to email to social media and more.
With the rise of mobile phone and social media use, multichannel contact centers have become a popular solution for contact center managers to keep up with customers’ varying communication needs.
This article will review what multichannel contact centers are, how they can optimize customer service operations, and the solutions for some of this system’s limitations.
A multichannel contact center is a customer service system that enables organizations to interact with their customers through different communication channels at once. Customers can choose the most convenient method for them to interact with a given organization–from using a website’s chatbot to sending an email to calling a customer service rep.
Multichannel contact centers also provide insights into how customers engage with them: what channels do customers use the most? How do they reach out first? These statistics can provide important data for customer service optimization.
While both multichannel and omnichannel contact centers involve managing multiple customer service channels, they do so differently.
Multichannel contact centers allow customers to use different communication methods, but the communication starts over with each new contact. With an omnichannel strategy, customers can switch from one channel to another without any disruption in their experience. The customer service agent receives the customers’ historical contact data and can pick up right where the previous agent left off. This allows for a more seamless customer experience, an ability to adapt quickly to changing customer needs, and more consistent tracking of customer behavior.
On average, customers interact with 3-5 different communication channels when trying to resolve a request. Some of these include:
According to research, phone calls are one of the most preferred customer-facing channels to reach customer service representatives. Multichannel contact centers often adopt VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to ensure customers can connect seamlessly via Internet-based phone calls instead of the outdated PSTN telephone network.
There are numerous VoIP calling features and functionalities common to multichannel contact centers, including:
Email is the second most used communication channel, according to data pulled from 82% of polled contact centers. Many multichannel contact center solutions offer automated email responses, email routing to make sure customer queries are properly assigned to the right agent, and email tracking functions.
Other features include:
SMS offers customers the convenience of engaging with customer service representatives directly from their mobile devices. Contact centers can implement two-way SMS, MMS messaging with internal teams, and automate done-way mass text messages to customers.
Brands engage with customers through private messaging or public comments on social media platforms. AI-supported chatbots or live agents can provide customer support through company-branded social media accounts.
Social media use for active customer service has increased from 33% to 50% within the last year and experts predict this trend will continue. As a result, social media is now a critical customer support channel for businesses.
More customers have been using web-based instant chats to contact customer service. This type of communication is often embedded directly into a company's website, allowing customers to chat online with either a live agent or an automated chatbot at any time of the day.
The use of AI-supported chatbots has been particularly successful in handling simple customer queries, such as basic purchases, answering frequently asked questions, and managing newsletter signups. Chatbots can also segment customers based on the query type, gather customer information, and route customers to the appropriate live agent.
A multichannel contact center makes it possible to gather and analyze data from different customer touchpoints so businesses can identify key trends, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement in customer service.
With access to metrics such as total call duration, first call resolution, agent performance ratings, and more, managers can work to improve staff training and optimize resources to provide a better experience overall.
However, despite pulling and aggregating copious amounts of data, multichannel contact center solutions don’t necessarily provide actionable insights for improving the customer experience. Fortunately, customer intelligence platforms like Operative Intelligence make that possible.
Operative Intelligence transforms a business’ existing contact center data into real-world decisions. It transforms the actual verbatims of customers from any inbound communication channel into unique drivers of customer demand. Users can easily identify the highest impact opportunities to improve customer experience and reduce costs with the ROI built into the insights.
By providing multiple communication channels for customers to reach out, businesses can offer a preferred customer service experience that can help improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers can interact with the business in the way that’s easiest for them and businesses can utilize different communication methods to reach out to customers in the most timely manner.
A multichannel contact center provides the ability for agents to specialize in specific communication methods. Customers will have an easier time finding the help they need and businesses can improve their overall customer experience by assigning agents to the channels they excel in.
Unlike omnichannel contact centers which ensure that every conversation's data is connected – so that customer history is retained no matter where and when the interactions take place – the communication channels at multichannel contact centers are separate. This makes cross-channel consistency difficult to maintain and can lead to frustrated customers when they have to repeat their customer service issues multiple times.
It can also be difficult for businesses to maintain the same agent quality, branding, and messaging across all channels. All of these factors can create–or disrupt–a cohesive customer experience.
Businesses may use multiple contact center software tools for their telephone, chat, email, and social media management. Each of these channels requires different technological capabilities to ensure smooth communication and customer satisfaction.
If you have customer service agents on multiple channels, they’ll have to learn to use each of the platforms efficiently and how to switch between them. Organizations will also need to make sure they can connect each of their tools back to their CRM to create a single source of truth.
Multichannel contact centers provide a variety of different communication methods which can ultimately lead to increased customer satisfaction. But to fully leverage multichannel strategies to improve the customer experience, businesses should take advantage of platforms like Operative Intelligence.
Concerned about aggregating and accessing the data from all of your channels? Operative Intelligence analyzes 100% of all inbound interactions to provide clear insights into the root cause of customer inquiries and the true experience for the customers at scale.
Wondering how to improve agent effectiveness despite managing multiple contact methods? Operative Intelligence’s engaging, real-time dashboards make it easy to identify areas for improvement based on customer needs and teams can see where performance variability is driven at a team and agent level.
With Operative Intelligence, contact center leaders won’t just be focusing on how to manage customers’ issues across multiple communication channels. Instead, they’ll be provided with the data that can drive changes for better products, better services, and happier customers.
As an industry, we've become highly proficient in managing and optimizing support interactions as they occur within the contact center. These strategies have been guided by traditional and important metrics like Average Speed of Answer, Average Handle Time and in the last decade, Customer Satisfaction and NPS.
The primary purpose of outbound call or contact centers is to conduct outreach to potential and current customers. Some even offer opportunities for customers to select the time they’d like to speak with one of their agents. Whether they’re trying to sell a good or service, support onboarding, encourage product usage, or enhance customer retention, outbound call centers are designed to manage large volumes of outgoing calls while maintaining great customer service.
Knowing which call center phone system to invest in is critical for any call or contact center. The right phone software can support improved agent performance, optimized call center efficiencies, and a better customer experience.