Contact Center

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16 min read

What is an Omnichannel Contact Center? How to Create a Seamless Customer Service Experience

This post will cover what an omnichannel contact center is, how it works, and how businesses can successfully implement one to enhance the customer service experience.

Peter Iansek

Co-Founder & CEO

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An omnichannel contact center is a customer support organization that offers multiple channels of communication. These channels are connected to each other so customers can move between them quickly and easily. 

Implementing an effective and efficient omnichannel solution requires careful planning, tools, and training. This post will cover what an omnichannel contact center is, how it works, and how businesses can successfully implement one to enhance the customer service experience.

What is an Omnichannel Contact Center?

An omnichannel contact center is a customer service solution that enables customer service teams to communicate with customers through various communication channels. This includes voice, webchat, email, SMS, social media, and more. 

The idea behind an omnichannel contact center is that customers don't have to repeat their issues on multiple platforms or channels to receive support. They can use whatever method they prefer and the customer service team can track all their conversations on the backend. 

With an omnichannel strategy in place, customers can engage with your business by starting a request via email, then following up through phone or social media for further updates on their query. 

The Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Contact Center

Multichannel contact centers offer customers multiple ways to communicate with an organization, such as phone support, email support, and web chat. This allows customers to find the most convenient method for them to interact with a given organization. However, customer data is not retained between each contact. 

Omnichannel contact centers create a holistic unified experience for customers regardless of which channel they choose. This means that all conversations are connected across multiple channels, so that customer history is retained no matter where and when the interactions take place. It also ensures that customers can start on one channel but seamlessly switch over to another if needed.

Using an omnichannel approach is not only helpful for the customer, but also provides data and analysis opportunities about their contact center, customers, and how they interact in different channels. Organizations can use this to improve customer support and implement targeted marketing activities based on individuals’ preferences or behaviors on each platform.

The main difference between multichannel and omnichannel contact centers is, therefore, the end goal. While both involve offering multiple communication platforms, omnichannel contact centers strive for an integrated service experience that creates value for both customers and service providers. 

Benefits of Omnichannel Contact Centers

woman using messaging to reach a contact center

1. Customer Retention

Omnichannel customer service tools are attractive due to their superb responsiveness. Customers can reach out on their preferred channel, save time by not having to repeat themselves, and swiftly get answers with minimal wait times. This can all drastically improve key contact center metrics like customer satisfaction, customer effort score, average talk time, and more. 

Today, consumers demand a digital-centric customer service experience; in fact, over 60% of shoppers turn to chat messaging, social media, and self-service options before making contact with the support team. Omnichannel contact centers provide customers with an effortless cross-platform encounter that enhances brand recognition and allows users to access help swiftly.

2. More Customer Support Metrics

Omnichannel contact centers collect data on customer interactions across multiple channels. It can be analyzed and used to measure customer support metrics like average speed of response, first contact resolution rate, and customer satisfaction. This provides key insights into how businesses are performing and when to make improvements if necessary.

How do you access, analyze, and use these metrics? Customer intelligence platforms like Operative Intelligence.  Operative Intelligence provides actionable insights so contact center leaders can coach frontline teams with precision and drive measurable improvements in KPIs. 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. 

operative intelligence platform for contact centers
Operative Intelligence uncovers the span of agent performance at inquiry level.

3. Workforce Management

This data also helps contact center leaders allocate resources and agents efficiently. For example, if most customers reaching out via social media have to end up calling for support, contact center leaders can assign more experienced agents to manage social media queries.

This helps ensure that customers get the support they need and can improve employee productivity. 

Omnichannel Contact Center Best Practices

Ready to take advantage of an omnichannel customer experience strategy? Here are some of the best practices to implement.

1. Self-service Opportunities

Self-service options allow customers to quickly find information without needing to contact a customer service representative at all, saving time for both parties. Examples include interactive voice response systems, online FAQs, and chatbots that can answer simple customer inquiries. 

2. Identify Top Communication Channels

Phone calls are still the most widely used option for customers to reach representatives. But due to their convenience, email and chatbots are quickly becoming more popular. Identifying the most-used communication channel for your customers means you can manage contact levels to keep average hold times down and first-call resolution rates up.

3. Consistent Cross-channel Experience

Providing a consistent experience for customers makes it easier for customers to resolve their queries. This is important in a few ways: 

  • Data syncing: Customers want to switch between channels easily without explaining their issue multiple times. You need to ensure your backend customer service platform receives all historical customer communication. 
  • Seamlessly connected channels:  Many omnichannel contact centers allow customers to easily switch between channels, starting an interaction on one channel and finishing it. For example, a chatbot can provide a link that connects them to a call center if the customer needs additional support.
  • Brand awareness: Establishing a unified look and feel is also helpful. This includes font types, colors, the language used, and overall UX design. 

4. Take Advantage of AI and Automation

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can help omnichannel contact centers handle customer inquiries more efficiently. Automated systems quickly route customers to the appropriate agent, so they don’t have to wait on hold or repeat their issue multiple times. AI-driven chatbots or virtual assistants can also take over simple customer inquiries such as account balance checks, payment status inquiries, and address changes.

Even the simple act of setting up automated replies that inform customers their message has been received can vastly improve customer satisfaction levels.  But when it comes to identifying the right automation opportunities, understanding precise customer needs is essential. Standard automation solutions often require business programming (like chatbots), making it challenging for organizations to understand how customers articulate their needs and demands. This means valuable opportunities can be missed or overlooked entirely. 

To unlock the true potential of automation technology and maximize its ROI, organizations must be able to accurately pinpoint which activities can and should be automated. With Operative Intelligence, this information–as well as the ROI of each suggested automation–is automatically generated and available with a single click. 

5. Map Out Customer Journeys

Mapping out the entire customer journey–from initial contact to purchase and post-purchase support–can help identify potential gaps in the omnichannel experience. If you realize that most customer contacts come in post-purchase, then investing in your onboarding process can keep customer service costs down. 

The Operative Intelligence platform automatically uncovers those insights by transforming the actual verbatims of customers from any inbound channel into unique drivers of customer demand. It identifies the highest-impact opportunities to improve customer experience and reduce costs throughout the customer journey. 

6. Understanding the Impact of Social Media

Social media has become an increasingly important channel for omnichannel contact centers to address customer needs quickly and efficiently. Many omnichannel contact centers have established a presence on various social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to monitor customer conversations and respond promptly. 

Social media also allows omnichannel contact centers to engage with customers in real time and provide a personalized, human-like experience. It’s also a great source of data for sentiment analysis. 

7. Providing Human-Centered Service

While AI and automation is critical to providing efficient service, human-centered services drive positive customer outcomes. This kind of customer experience focuses on creating personalized solutions that cater to individual needs and help people feel valued.  It requires active listening, empathy, and a genuine desire to go the extra mile for customers. Companies should also work to reduce agent turnover, provide opportunities for career advancement, and shift from cost-focused KPIs to customer-centric KPIs to create a space for human-led service. 

These approaches require an understanding of the true reasons customers are contacting you and exactly how they describe their issues. Operative Intelligence’s AI-powered platform analyzes 100% of inbound interactions and shares the root causes of overall inquiries using the customer’s actual words. 

Contact center teams can use this data to improve their service. But it doesn’t need to stop there.  Operative Intelligence’s eye-opening metrics not only impact customer service but also company policies, product updates, and the complete customer experience. 

operative intelligence for omnichannel contact centers
OI reports on customer inquiries, sub-inquiries, and root causes using the customers' own words. 

Omnichannel Contact Center Software Features

employees at omnichannel contact center

Omnichannel contact center software offers a wide range of features to help companies provide the best experience for their customers.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand customers' thoughts, feelings, and opinions. It can be used to monitor chat conversations, emails, phone calls, social media posts, and any other form of textual communication with customers. 

Sentiment analysis tags the unstructured data (customer words on the communication channels) so it can be processed quickly and efficiently. This can help organizations understand where and when customers are having a negative experience while using their product or service. 

Cloud-based Capabilities 

Software with cloud-based capabilities is reliable, secure, and cost-effective. Companies can access their contact center from anywhere in the world and centralize customer data into one system. It also makes it easier for companies to integrate with their other operating systems like HR and accounting for greater visibility and streamlined business operations. 

Integration Opportunities

For a unified omnichannel contact center to function in its most optimal state, you need seamless integrations between your CRM, marketing, customer service, and project management tools. This allows for the pulling, organizing, and analysis of the data that makes omnichannel solutions so effective. 

Analytics and Reporting

Analytics and reporting tools provide real-time insights into customer interactions that can inform contact center leaders about the success of their agents. They can also uncover insights about customer preferences and behaviors that can be used to develop more effective omnichannel strategies. 

With the right analytics tools, businesses have the potential to improve efficiency and profitability across all aspects of their omnichannel contact center operations.

Workforce Management

Workforce management features simplify a business's operations by streamlining and automating tasks that would otherwise require manual effort. From timesheets to scheduling, payroll, and analytics, WFM features can help companies manage their workforce efficiently and accurately. It offers real-time visibility into employee performance and attendance records, providing insights for improved team productivity. 

Contact center managers can adjust staffing accordingly to ensure that customers are always met with a knowledgeable and friendly representative. It also helps employers comply with legal regulations for accurate payroll calculations and recordkeeping. 

Improve Your Omnichannel Contact Center

Omnichannel contact centers provide a comprehensive and unified approach to customer service. To fully leverage omnichannel strategies to improve the customer experience while reducing operational costs, businesses need tools like Operative Intelligence.

Operative Intelligence empowers contact center leaders to have data-based conversations with leadership to drive true operational change for better products, better services, and happier customers. 

Book a demo with Operative Intelligence today if you’re looking to drive impactful changes at every level of your business.

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