What Is An Omnichannel Contact Center? Top Tips For Using The Omnichannel Approach

An omnichannel contact center is something that’s become more and more relevant in recent years, with the expansion of the internet and an ever-increasing number of digital platforms available. It’s something that’s been proven to increase customer satisfaction and therefore retention when dealing with digital forms of communication, as well as increasing your overall efficiency by allowing for rapid dissemination of information between different personnel, sections, and departments, even across different continents.

What It Is

An omnichannel approach is the evolution of the multi-channel approach when it comes to customer contact, the idea that the more ways a customer can get in touch with you the better. The omnichannel approach to this melds the channels together by creating a single, centralized database in which all information relevant to customer communications is stored, allowing for it to be passed down to different members of staff working using different touchpoints and at different times. The philosophy behind this is customer experience, allowing the customer to gain the information they desire from contact with your business without running into misunderstandings or situations where they have to repeat the same information again to different people – nobody likes doing that.

It’s estimated that an organization with a strong omnichannel approach can retain 89% of their customer base after digital contact, compared with a mere 33% of those who lack this approach. The benefits aren’t all on the customer’s end, however, as it saves your employees time and effort too as when they have to pick up where someone else left off they can have all the needed information right at their fingertips.

Implementing An Omnichannel Contact Center Into Your Business

An omnichannel contact center might seem like a huge, daunting task that will take months and months of effort to see to completion, but in actuality, the size of the project will depend entirely on the size of your business and what data you need to retain. Some organizations which have a small but dedicated customer base might get away with keeping all of their information inside a Google Drive, others that have a wider reach would have to upgrade to a cloud software approach or something similar. It all depends on the size and complexity of the data you need to store, which will increase with both the number of channels you use and the amount of products/services you provide.

The first step to implementing this plan is to choose a central database where all your data will be stored. As mentioned above it can be anything from a spreadsheet to a cloud server – whatever suits your needs is best, though if you’re looking to expand your operations you should keep in mind that you may need a bigger database in the future.

Once you have your database in place, the next step is to give everyone access. Now, that may seem obvious but there’s a big factor that needs to be considered – standardized data formats. If you picked up the notes taken by the average member of your personnel, chances are while they can read it back to you just fine you won’t be able to read it without prompting or assistance. One of the most difficult parts of implementing any new protocol within your organization is getting people up to speed on the correct way to use it, and a database is no exception. It’s critical that you train your personnel in a standardized form of data entry such that any individual can read back any entry made by another and understand completely what’s going on. Not only does this stop misunderstandings, but it also saves time when dealing with customers as you don’t have to mentally translate what you read in order to pass on relevant information.

Once your database is established, you have your omnichannel contact center. However, that’s not the end of the story! Omnichannel contact centers are new and for the most part, dealing with untested waters – chances are there’s no blueprint on how exactly to create one within your industry. Thus, a means of altering the system where needed, especially in terms of expanding it in order to keep up with unexpected strain, is absolutely vital to the health of your business. Feedback forms and reporting software can go a long way, but don’t forget to involve the human element too, and interview the personnel who implement your omnichannel approach as they will have the most insight into its deficits.

Finally, there is the issue of scalability. It may not be feasible or financially sound to pay for a full cloud-based server all year round, however, if you’re an organization that expects seasonal or other cycles where there are huge amounts of customer inquiries, you should plan and prepare for this so your systems aren’t overwhelmed. A prime example of this is that upon the release of a new product you should be expecting a large number of inquiries based on said product.

Scaling your databases can be done by increasing server space, duplicating files to slow lag upon access, shorter documents to prevent loading issues, and more. A general principle behind all computing is that the smaller the file and the fewer requests for access, the faster it will open. That holds true in this situation, especially when you have a large number of access requests going on at the same time.

A general tip would be to not put all of your eggs in one basket – having a backup, duplicate servers prepared for the eventuality of large numbers of requests can be a great boon to larger organizations, whereas simply duplicating a spreadsheet may do for a smaller organization. It’s all dependent on the system you use and the data you plan to put in it, but scalability is an issue that every organization will eventually face.