I spent a couple of days at the 1st Indo-US BPO Summit in Florida and was lucky enough to participate in a panel discussion chaired by Melissa O’Brien from HfS Research focused on the rise of omnichannel and how it is a bridge between offline and online worlds. This was a hot topic of discussion at the summit and the more we examined it, the more there was to discuss.
Many people confuse the provisioning of multiple channels or new digital channels as omnichannel. Channels of interaction are merely that – channels. They do not make for the experience of the interaction.
The key element here with omnichannel is that we are considering a service environment where the customer experience remains equally good, consistent and seamless, no matter how the customer communicates with a brand. As Melissa O’Brien puts it: “you have to maintain context across all these interactions”. This could be on various devices such as a laptop, tablet, smart phone, or across various channels such as chat, social networks, instant messaging or locations such as online, in store.
The proliferation of mobile, social and the Internet has changed the way consumers interact with a brand. At the same time their expectation of service has changed. Their expectation is higher than it has ever been on the past. As several people have said, the customer is now in control of the service equation. The customer defines how and when they contact a brand rather than the brand offering defined channels (such as a phone number and email). This also means that the brand needs to listen beyond the established channels as there could be new channels developing that need to also be catered to.
So how do we adapt to this new paradigm? I think that any executive thinking seriously about this topic needs to consider three high-level issues before planning an omnichannel service:
- How has the customer journey changed and what are the new drivers to loyalty to a brand? It is a huge mistake to forget the customer, and their journey in particular, while designing an omnichannel experience.
- How has the customer’s expectation and behavior changed? Mobile technologies and social networks have changed the way that customers communicate with each other. It has also changed the expectation of responsiveness and context specific and personal interactions.
- How to best retool the contact center to support this omnichannel world? This means looking at people, process and technology (some things never change) in light of this new paradigm of service.
I enjoyed the vibrant conversation at the 1st Indo-US BPO Summit – thank you to the organizers for giving us a great platform to have this discussion. Click here for more information on the US-Indo BPO Summit. If you have any thoughts on the effect of the omnichannel on contact centers then please leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.