How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

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1 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel Sheila McGee-Smith Principal Analyst McGee-Smith Analytics Karina Howell Solutions Marketing Manager Interactive Intelligence, Inc.

2 Contents Introduction... 3 Channel Challenges... 4 How an Omnichannel Approach Addresses Multichannel Challenges... 5 Universal queue... 5 Uniform handling of existing and emerging channels... 5 Omnichannel workforce advantages... 6 Next Steps... 7 The Authors... 9 Copyright 2014, 2015 Interactive Intelligence, Inc. All rights reserved. Brand, product, and service names referred to in this document are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Interactive Intelligence, Inc Interactive Way Indianapolis, Indiana to chat or request a call-back Publish date 11/14, version 1; Updated 4/15, version Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 2 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

3 Introduction So-called media blending is at the leading edge of emerging call center applications. Media blending is the ability of a call center system to accept customer contacts from a variety of sources in a variety of media and handle them all in a similar manner, whether they originate from the public network, the Internet, or a hybrid of the two. This statement was published in 1997, in a report titled Call Centers in the Multimedia Era, written by one of the authors of this paper. Nearly 25 years after the deployment of the first automatic call distributors (ACDs), the possibilities that and other Internet interactions introduced for customer care seemed radical, destined to completely change customer care as it existed at that time. We now know that it took more than a decade for non-voice interactions to become common place in the world s contact centers, and the transformation in customer service they introduced is as radical as was originally imagined. The technologies included in today s definition of multichannel have also changed with the passing years. In addition to , new technologies have been added to the definition: web chat, SMS, social media, mobile, and video interactions to name a few. Over the next few years, one might predict additional channels emerging from the burgeoning field of the Internet of Things. Wearable technology, such as Google Glasses and personal fitness devices, may soon initiate customer service calls that centers must be prepared to handle. In the 1990s, the mere task of enabling customers to interact with the call center over channels other than voice was a daunting one. And customers were willing to reward companies that made the effort and offered new choices. But customer expectations have risen, and often companies are not seen as meeting the new level. The CFI Group has been studying global customer satisfaction trends since The group s recently published 2014 Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) shows a dramatic drop in 2013, with a favorable rebound in One of the hypotheses CFI Group offered for the decline in 2013 was that, after six years of steady growth in service performance, consumers had built up an expectation of great things to come. Customers expected service functions throughout a company to be connected the contact center and each enterprise department knowing what the other is doing at any given time. That consumer sentiment still applies. And even though satisfaction levels rebounded in 2014, the contact center industry must safeguard against complacency. If it doesn t, a drop in customer satisfaction scores could easily occur again Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 3 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

4 Channel Challenges When multichannel first began to take shape, the typical path of adding channels into a contact center was to start with one non-voice channel such as and then add another at some later time, and so on. This one-by-one approach made it easy to treat the additional channel as a separate work flow, often managed by different agents and often different supervisors. This mindset typically resulted in the decision to use a specialist application or even a third party to handle the new interaction channel. Over time it has become clear that this kind of bolt-on approach to interaction channelhandling is suboptimal. First, the approach ignores the contact center rule of large groups. Classic queuing theory predicts that centers with fewer agent groups and the same volume require fewer total agents to handle the same number of interactions. In plainer terms, if there are agents handling only voice calls and others handling only s, when there is no traffic, more voice agents are required. Beyond the number of agents required is the reporting burden caused when multiple applications or outside vendors are used for individual channels. Centers find themselves using administrative staff to manually combine statistics from the different systems, a process that is both cumbersome and unreliable in that it introduces a high probability of human error. Many organizations implementing multichannel technologies focus on the delivery of interactions to the agents without closing the loop to focus on the quality of these interactions. Multiple systems mean multiple integration points to customer data and CRM systems. If a third party vendor delivering web chat support is working with a snapshot of the customer database that is 24 hours old or has no access to customer records at all necessary context will be missing and the care provided to the customer will suffer. When a voice agent is writing updates to CRM records that are not immediately available to agents working on a separate routing application, again the customer experience will suffer. Finally, many organizations implementing multichannel technologies focus on the delivery of interactions to the agents without closing the loop to focus on the quality of these interactions, gauged through cross-channel interaction monitoring, recording, and agent performance management. The result is likely to be widely varying customer experiences from one interaction channel to another. Realizing the promise of omnichannel means closing this loop to gauge the results of interactions across all channels Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 4 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

5 How an Omnichannel Approach Addresses Multichannel Challenges So what does omnichannel mean and how is it different from, and better than, multichannel? With an omnichannel approach, channels are effectively blended such that customers enjoy consistent and contextual experiences across all contact methods. Effective omnichannel service requires a business to view the multichannel experience through the eyes of a customer. It means understanding that customers often start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a purchase or resolution. In short, it means delivering on the real promise of multichannel. In the next few sections, we ll break down how this definition of omnichannel can be applied across various elements of contact center operation. Universal queue Should the speed and quality of service delivered to a customer vary based on what media channel they choose? A 2013 research study by edigitalresearch found that social media is the quickest and most reliable form of customer contact. The survey of 2,000 consumers found that 80 percent of consumers who had recently contacted a brand through social media platforms heard back from the company within 12 hours, compared to just over one third (37 percent) who heard back within the same time frame when contacting via . Seven percent of the consumers surveyed who used live online chat said that they did not get promised follow-up from the company. The study highlights two issues that an omnichannel approach to customer care helps avoid. If all interaction types are being managed by a single routing application, parameters can be set to ensure that no one interaction type is delivering better service than another. Even when a company chooses to have a set of agents dedicated to given channels, for example, social or , if real-time metrics reveal that one channel or another is not meeting objectives, resources can be shifted usually without human intervention to adjust the imbalance. One hypothesis to explain why customers are not getting promised follow-up after a web chat is that the interaction was handled by a third party chat provider. There are several such companies that offer such stand-alone services. When chat is handled this way, it is easy to see how the knowledge of the agents on how to effect follow-up may be less than that of in-house agents. The allegiance to the company these third party agents handled the call for also is likely not as strong as that of in-house agents. Uniform handling of existing and emerging channels In 1997 media-blending meant voice and . Today it can mean upwards of 10 different types of interactions with new interaction channels being introduced seemingly every year. Now, implementing a true omnichannel solution ensures that your customer service operation is prepared to handle the next channel challenge when it emerges. It means have processes in place that can incorporate communications methods that are still on the drawing boards of Silicon Valley Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 5 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

6 The team that created the Interactive Intelligence Interaction Center Platform in 1994 understood then that voice would not be the only interaction channel contact center agents would handle as technology moved forward. Although this team of visionaries couldn t predict Google Glass or Fitbit fitness devices all those years ago, they built a software platform that has proven extensible, able to add each channel the market has developed. The Interaction Center Platform enables organizations to implement channels such as chat, SMS, social media and others inherently, at any time, and manage all channels in a uniform and consistent manner. The beauty of an omnichannel contact center solution like this is that it not only routes interactions regardless of media, it allows routing strategies to be built once and applied multiple times. If your center wants to deliver preferred service to an identified set of customers for example the top tier members of an airline s frequent flyer program omnichannel routing means creating that programming once and applying it to all channels uniformly. This capability eliminates having to build separate logic for platinum routing in the voice system, the social media system, the system, the web chat system and so on. Or for that matter, for the new channel that emerges three years from now. Once and done. Omnichannel workforce advantages The discussion thus far has centered on the benefits an omnichannel approach for customers and contact center management.. There are advantages for agents and supervisors, too. From an agent perspective, a single contact center application offers a single, integrated desktop from which to manage interaction and associated customer service activities. This desktop can be populated with information that provides agents the context of the interaction, which results in a more streamlined customer resolution. From integrated customer relationship management (CRM) applications to information from voice and web self-service activities, an omnichannel approach allows a business to uniformly integrate and present information to agents regardless of media type. The phrase once and done applies here as well. In addition to single routing, queuing and reporting applications, the ideal omnichannel approach evaluates agents, and provides supervisors with data and analytical insight uniformly across channels. From a supervisor and contact center manager perspective, a single application used for all media simplifies the tasks and strategies for workforce management and quality monitoring. Part of ensuring that customers do not receive different service levels depending on the media they choose, and hence disparate qualities of experience, is having uniform tools that can be applied across all customer service representatives. Therefore, in addition to single routing, queuing and reporting applications, the ideal omnichannel approach evaluates agents, and provides supervisors with data and analytical insight, uniformly across channels. For example, by applying traditional quality monitoring techniques that have been successful in voice channels to the non-voice ones, it s possible to capture the customer s experience regardless of how they contact the organization. This allows the business to close the loop on gauging the effectiveness of their omnichannel strategies Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 6 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

7 Next Steps The transition to providing customers a consistent, contextual experience across all service channels is a journey, and the process of enabling the seamless customer experience omnichannel promises is iterative. The approach we recommended is to begin with the vision and plan for stages as you respond to changing customer preferences. An integrated system allows you to add customer channels with minimal cost and complexity, although this doesn t mean it is wise to add all channels at once. Rather, we recommend performing a thorough analysis of your business goals and mapping how each channel contributes. Once the channels you already have are perfected, we then recommended taking the next steps to offer additional channels. Those next steps for mapping the journey are as follows. Think about the typical journeys your customers take when doing business with your organization. Do they call, , request a chat, or take some other avenue? Your first goal should be to work toward supporting context-sharing among the channels most often used to accomplish a single task. Define channel-specific business goals. Omnichannel service success requires clarity about both your customers needs and your business objectives. Is there an opportunity to close more online sales with web chat? Are text-based communications more effective for technical support? Or is your goal simply to automate routine inquiries through effective self-service? Specifying such goals allows you to adjust tactics to optimize multiple goals and align resources more effectively. Identify channels that are not supported today that customers are requesting, or that contact center management believes would be of value. Video, for example, might allow for an improved customer experience for certain types of customer calls, for example, equipment trouble-shooting, yet may not necessarily be a top request. Empower agents with visibility into the results of prior interactions and train them to handle priority callers. Optimize the phone. The trend towards customer adoption of digital channels is not coupled with a decrease in the importance of the voice channel. Rather, the role of this channel changes. It becomes a tool for handling complex interactions and promoting customer loyalty. Evaluate agent performance across all channels. Delivering multichannel interactions to customer service representative is obviously important, but make sure a plan is in place on how their performance will be evaluated and managed uniformly across all contact channels. Selecting a workforce optimization solution capable of scheduling, recording and evaluating quality across channels is first step in this process. Ensure that the contact center solution you choose has certified integrations. Not only the collaboration applications your company uses, such as SAP and Oracle, but also a set of application programming interfaces that allow integration to company or vertical-specific applications. This ensures that your omnichannel applications will have access to the customer data required to create personalized, contextual interactions. Validate that your contact center application vendor has experience and a solid reputation. This includes working with and providing cloud applications. Even if you don t choose a cloud-based deployment at first, you want to ensure that that option will be available in the future if the organization mandates change Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 7 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

8 McGee-Smith Analytics was founded in 2000 to offer enterprises and solution providers an expert and reliable source for information and analysis related to the contact center and enterprise communications markets. Almost 15 years later, McGee-Smith Analytics continues to serve clients across a range of industries and geographies, delivering strategic counsel and intelligence regarding the converging fields of contact center and enterprise communications. Interactive Intelligence is a global provider of collaboration, communications and customer engagement software and services that improve the customer experience. Our company s standards-based all-in-one IP communications software suite, which can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises, is backed by more than 6,000 customer deployments worldwide. In addition to software, our solution-set includes hardware, implementation, consulting, support and education. Interactive Intelligence was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. with offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Visit Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 8 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

9 The Authors Sheila McGee-Smith, the founder and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant with a proven track record in new product development, competitive assessment, market research, and sales strategies for communications solutions and services. Her insight helps enterprises and solution providers develop strategies to meet the escalating demands of today's consumer and business customers. Her views on the market can be found regularly on NoJitter.com and through her Twitter Karina Howell is a solutions marketing manager at Interactive Intelligence responsible for the suite of contact center technologies. Her experience includes 14 years in the customer interaction management space. She has provided marketing research and strategy to contact center solution vendors, held product marketing roles at Genesys Telecommunications, and served as practice leader at analyst firm Frost & Sullivan. Ms. Howell holds a master s degree in Political Science from the University of California at San Diego, and a bachelor s degree in Politics from the University of California at Santa Cruz Interactive Intelligence, Inc. 9 How Omnichannel is Delivering on the Promise of Multichannel

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