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Guide to omnichannel contact centers

Omnichannel contact center software streamlines communication channels so customer service reps can provide consistent and personalized support.

Por Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Última actualización el September 13, 2023

Customers expect seamless and personalized interactions that can keep up with the fast-paced, interconnected landscape of today’s digital world. Businesses are delivering on these expectations by embracing omnichannel technology—the integration of communication channels into a single interface.

Discover the significance of delivering exceptional customer experiences, and learn how to leverage this approach to stay ahead in competitive markets. Whether you’re a business owner, customer service professional, or curious about the latest trends in customer support, join us as we delve into the potential and benefits of omnichannel contact centers.

What is an omnichannel contact center?

An omnichannel contact center is a customer service approach that integrates and synchronizes numerous communication channels to provide customers with a seamless, consistent, and personalized experience.

Traditional contact centers operate in separate channels that run the risk of creating information silos. Omnichannel contact centers break down these barriers, enabling customers to use their preferred channels and maintain continuity throughout the customer journey.

In an omnichannel contact center, customer interactions are managed across various channels and recorded as a unified conversation. Regardless of whether a customer initiates a conversation via business text messaging, social media, or email, the contact center agents have access to the entire customer history, including previous interactions and context.

Omnichannel vs. multichannel contact centers

Omnichannel contact centers integrate with backend systems so agents can always access relevant customer information in real time. Agents get a unified view of the customer journey to provide more personalized interactions.

Multichannel contact centers offer customer service through multiple channels, but each operates independently. Unlike omnichannel centers, multichannel interactions aren’t synchronized, so platforms have no continuity.

In a multichannel contact center, if a customer follows up on a phone call via email, the responding agent won’t have access to what was discussed during the previous conversation, causing the customer to repeat themselves. An agent in an omnichannel contact center has access to the call log, so they can engage with the customer from an informed perspective.

Benefits of omnichannel contact centers

Omnichannel processes rely on software that provides specialized tools that enable seamless communication. Once you incorporate the software into your contact center, your customers and employees both stand to benefit from the new system. Here’s a look at some of the main advantages companies gain after transitioning to omnichannel contact centers.

Omnichannel contact center benefits
  • Decrease customer churn

    According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023, 73 percent of customers move to a company’s competitor after multiple bad experiences. Omnichannel communication empowers agents to provide higher-caliber service, which can increase customer satisfaction and retention. It also leads to smoother, more convenient support experiences, and when you meet customers’ needs and expectations, they have fewer reasons to leave your company.
  • Improve response times

    Omnichannel contact center software increases the chances that customers will reach the right agent on their first attempt, as all communication touchpoints are monitored. If a customer reaches out via social media, an agent can promptly respond because they don’t have to check each individual platform throughout the day. Omnichannel contact software neatly organizes all customer outreach into a unified dashboard.
  • Increase personalization

    Customer information is key to providing great service, and with omnichannel call centers, support agents have that valuable information at their fingertips. Reps can readily see customer profiles and conversation history, so they’re armed with the data they need to personalize the current interaction. This also means agents don’t need to rely on a generic call center script to assess the situation.
  • Collect better data

    A big challenge companies face is the ability to collect and use data within their organization. Multichannel contact centers add to this challenge by segmenting data, which prevents companies from accurately evaluating their performance. An omnichannel contact center streamlines data collection and aids in the creation of comprehensive reports. These reports can help you track:
  • Daily and long-term trends

  • Customer service key performance indicators (KPIs)

  • Agent performance

You’ll be able to see where you’re excelling and where you need to improve, so rather than taking shots in the dark, you can make data-driven decisions.

Level up with omnichannel support

Meet your customers on their preferred channel and easily continue the conversation by providing omnichannel customer service. Read our guide to learn how to deliver seamless, personalized support on any channel.

Features of an omnichannel contact center

Omnichannel contact centers help employees perform to the best of their abilities so customers receive the level of service they expect. The features that will have the greatest impact on your contact center operations are accessed through omnichannel software. Here are some of the features that help contact centers provide superior service over competitors that stick to traditional methods.

How to create an omnichannel call center strategy

Create an omnichannel call center strategy in 5 steps

Using omnichannel contact center software can only get you so far if you don’t have a plan of action. Here are five steps to create an effective omnichannel call center strategy.

1. Map out the customer journey

A customer journey map is a blueprint of the steps a customer takes when interacting with your company. It should include each touchpoint and provide context into what the customer is experiencing.

Our CX Trends Report revealed that 71 percent of business leaders plan to revamp their current customer journey to provide more immersive experiences. This can be a serious undertaking, but it’s necessary to ensure your business delivers modern interactions that live up to customer expectations.

2. Identify which channels to use and what data to collect

Providing customers with multiple methods of communication is one of the primary objectives of an omnichannel strategy. Your customer base likely has preferred support channels, so focus your efforts on where you can best serve them.

Approach data collection similarly. Identify which call center metrics are most relevant to your goals. These may include:

  • Average resolution time

  • First contact resolution rate

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score

Determine what data to collect early on to accurately measure if you’re achieving the desired results.

3. Deploy the right contact center software

The success of your omnichannel initiatives will largely hinge on the software you choose. Omnichannel contact center platforms offer a variety of tools depending on the provider. Some of these tools will be essential to your performance, so pick software that provides and performs them well.

Some essential tools include:

4. Train your team in omnichannel processes

Whenever you shake up the status quo, your team will need to adjust to new processes and learn how to use the new software to its fullest capabilities. Switching to a new system will change how your team monitors channels, manages tickets, and collaborates on tasks. If you don’t take the time to train call center agents, they’ll be slow to adopt new tools and fall back to old ways.

Educate the team on how the:

  • Customer journey is changing

  • New strategy impacts them and their role

  • Process ties into any new call center skills they might need

This will also set you up to receive productive feedback from your employees about how to further improve these processes.

5. Remove internal silos

An omnichannel approach improves access to customer information, but fully removing internal data silos still requires cooperation between departments. Sales, marketing, and customer service must work together to share information so team members have a complete customer view. Businesses can’t flourish if departments hoard data.

Omnichannel contact center best practices

3 best practices for managing an omnichannel contact center

Even after establishing an omnichannel contact center strategy, you’ll need to carefully manage operations so everything runs smoothly. Here are some best practices to keep your customers and employees happy.

Optimize workflows with AI and automations

AI and automations play an important role in omnichannel communication by assisting employees with their tasks and customers with their requests. See a few ways you can use this technology to optimize workflows:

  • Intelligent skills-based routing: AI-powered systems can analyze customer queries and automatically direct them to the appropriate agent.
  • Bots and virtual assistants: Automated systems use natural language processing and machine learning to provide instant responses and useful resources.
  • Predictive analytics: AI algorithms can anticipate customer needs based on patterns, enabling employees to proactively personalize recommendations and deliver targeted service.

Companies can streamline processes by leveraging AI and automation to deliver better customer experiences.

Improve internal and external knowledge bases

An internal knowledge base is your employees’ point of reference when resolving customer issues. It should include a comprehensive library of information that employees can quickly search through to find answers while interacting with customers. This improves employee effectiveness and reduces the need to involve senior team members to reach a successful resolution.

An external knowledge base serves a similar role but is intended for customer self-service. These are easily shareable resources, like articles or how-to videos, that employees can direct customers to during their interactions. When employees can share this information publicly, they’ll spend less time walking customers through each step of a task.

Determine service level agreements (SLAs)

A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract that outlines standards for customer support. For a contact center, an SLA includes things like:

  • Response times

  • Average handling times

  • Resolution rates

As omnichannel communication improves agent performance, consider adjusting your SLAs to reflect your new capabilities. Your SLAs should be realistic while keeping you competitive in your industry.

The future of omnichannel communication

As technology advances, customer expectations will continue to rise. To deliver immersive customer experiences, omnichannel communication is becoming less of a luxury and more of a priority for businesses. Companies also need to embrace omnichannel contact center solutions to provide deep customer connections and remain ahead of the competition.

Omnichannel contact center FAQ

Here are a few frequently asked questions to further aid your research of omnichannel contact centers.

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