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Omnichannel Customer Service – All You Need to Know in Your Contact Center

NICE inContact

Presented By: NICE inContact



Have you ever wondered what is really behind omnichannel customer service? What exactly the difference is between omnichannel and multichannel? If your answer is yes, we can help. This article will shed some light on what omnichannel means, why it actually is better than multichannel, and when you should consider using it in your contact center.

Let’s start at the beginning: omnichannel is not the same as multichannel. Multichannel has been around longer than omnichannel. The difference between the two is actually quite simple. A contact center offers multichannel customer service when the system routes and agents handle contacts in different channels, such as voice, email, chat, social media, video, etc…in succession, one after the other. In other words: if you have agents that will start the day handling a chat interaction with Kevin, then – once that interaction is complete and wrapped up – will go on to handle a voice call with Stuart, then go on to handle an email with Bob, and so forth, then your contact center is multichannel.

This is obviously a good thing, as your agents get more insight into the customer journey over time, regardless of the channel your customers use. Also, you should have the ability to build both routing and reporting in a common, unified interface across all channels that are being handled in your contact center. So far, so good.

Where omnichannel customer service has the advantage over multichannel is identified by two major differences:

  1. In a true omnichannel customer service environment, your agents are able to handle more than one interaction with different customers and in different channels concurrently. Picture this: your agent is handling two chat interactions, one with Phil, the other one with Carl, while also working on three emails from Stuart, Kevin and Bob. In addition, the agent is available to answer an incoming call from Gru.Obviously, the biggest advantage associated with omnichannel is an increase in agent productivity; but another advantage of concurrent handling for your contact center environment is the fact that your agents remain available for voice calls (or other high priority contacts) that come in without the need to park, pause, or otherwise temporarily “get out of” the interaction they have been handling.
  2. The second difference centers on a concept known as “elevation”. In this scenario, you can empower your agents to add one or more channels to an existing interaction with a customer. You agents can turn an interaction that started in a single channel into an omnichannel session. This is the second differentiator of true omnichannel session handling.

Imagine the following: Stuart starts a chat with your agent. They chat back and forth, and back and forth, and back and…you get the picture. The interaction appears to be a bad “fit” for the chat channel – maybe, because it has turned out to be a more complex issue than Stuart had anticipated when he first reached out via chat.

In a multichannel environment, your agent might be able to schedule an outbound call for “later”, maybe even reserve that interaction for himself. In a true omnichannel environment, however, the agent can call Stuart right away; he does NOT have to disconnect the chat interaction – in fact, he should keep it open as it provides ample background on the issue Stuart is experiencing. The agent simply adds another channel – voice, in this case – to the existing interaction. In addition, if later on Stuart asks for an email – say he’s lost the handbook and needs a replacement – the agent can send that email with the document attached to Stuart, while still active in the concurrent call/chat session. Stuart and the agent can close off the customer session once the customer issue has been fully resolved.

The major advantages of true omnichannel, beyond the productivity increase for your agents, are invaluable in today’s competitive environment. More often than not, your customer service is a major competitive factor. We know that the number of channels your customers expect you to offer is increasing, which adds complexity. We also know that your customers expect you to make interactions as simple and effortless as possible. And we know that customers don’t like to wait, but still expect you to have insight into their personal customer journey, regardless of interaction channels.

True omnichannel customer service helps you to improve all three factors: by reducing complexity, decreasing customer effort and optimizing contact handling. Empower your contact center to consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences – regardless of channel!