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What Is an omnichannel contact center?

Although the global economic and social outlook is in a state of constant flux, contact centers remain one of the most important resources available to consumers. Luckily the key to implementing an exceptional contact center has also remained the same, which is to deliver a super experience to every customer. 

Developing an omnichannel contact center is a great way to deliver a superior experience to customers every time. The hard part is figuring out how to structure this part of your business to have the right impact.

Unforeseen events like the global health crisis can change the business landscape in a matter of months, but companies that already have the right support structure in place can adapt almost immediately. Which, in turn, increases your chances of engaging your customers and producing a great experience. 

With the above in mind, omnichannel contact centers require a delicate combination of powerful technology, proactive employees, and engaging features. Below, we’ll go over the definition of an omnichannel call center and how they differ from multichannel call centers. We’ll also provide tips and best practices to help you establish a superb strategy for your business.

What Is an omnichannel contact center?

An omnichannel contact center is the first point of contact for customers that need to solve an issue or have a question about a company or its services. Simply put, omnichannel call centers are designed to deliver great service to customers on-demand, allowing them to contact businesses however they prefer. 

When developing an omnichannel strategy for your business, you need to consider all of the different channels that your customers use to get in touch with your team. For this reason, omnichannel approaches usually leverage social media networks, emails, telephone calls, and even video conferencing. But, the most important thing is that a truly omnichannel experience ensures a seamless transition when jumping from one channel to another.

For instance, when a fully omnichannel approach is in place, customers can initiate a request via email, follow up by making a phone call and get the final updates through social media, if that’s what they’re looking for.

Comparing omnichannel and multichannel call centers

It’s important to understand that there is a big difference between omnichannel call centers and multichannel call centers. As we mentioned earlier, omnichannel strategies employ all the channels customers use and ensure a consistent experience through all of them. 

Even though they also employ multiple communication channels, multichannel call centers are different because they don’t focus on providing a smooth experience. In other words, when a customer starts interacting with a multichannel contact center, they may have to start again from scratch if they switch from email to phone or any other channel.

Benefits of an omnichannel contact center

The exact structure and elements found in an omnichannel contact center can vary tremendously depending on the industry and business. But, if it’s set up correctly, your omnichannel contact center will help cultivate a loyal customer base that knows it can rely on your business in any scenario.

In addition to creating a great experience for your customers, omnichannel contact centers can also help you build a good reputation. Most customers attempt to troubleshoot issues on their own before contacting a company’s support team. By the time they start speaking to your employees, these customers are already short on patience. So, having an omnichannel call center that runs efficiently will allow your team to find solutions quickly. 

Furthermore, some of the main benefits of implementing an omnichannel contact center include:

Seamless connections

Many customers prefer working with small local businesses because they tend to handle customer requests relatively quickly. This is because the entire team is usually located in one single facility, so team members can interact quickly and generate solutions almost immediately. Omnichannel contact centers are similar in the sense that all employees have access to the same data, which makes for a smooth transition between channels.

As we mentioned previously, an omnichannel approach ensures a seamless experience for your customers. Specifically, they will enjoy the ability to communicate with a company through the channels they prefer in any order they please without skipping a beat. This doesn’t only save time, but it also gives customers the impression that they are speaking to an ultra-efficient business, which gives your reputation a boost.

Quick and efficient routing

It’s normal for business contact centers to have different departments. For example, sales, technical support, marketing, retention, and so on. Omnichannel call centers have to follow an organized structure to be successful, which allows for quick and efficient routing whenever a customer needs to be transferred between departments. 

This concept applies to customers even before they become customers. For example, if a person makes a call and she’s registered in your company database as a prospect, your automated routing system will be able to send her to the appropriate department. The same goes for all other channels, including email, social media, and chat requests.

Powerful integrations

Omnichannel contact centers can implement many different digital tools including CRMs and telecommunications software, just to name a few. Plus, the only way to build efficient processes for your agents is to make sure that these platforms can be integrated and are able to share information.

This is the reason why reliable omnichannel call centers only work with platforms that are compatible with other leading tools. For instance, the social media chat team members in an omnichannel contact center don’t log in using the same details. Instead, these team members interact with the interface of a platform that is integrated directly with Facebook.

Constant monitoring and improvements

Even before the development of omnichannel strategies, contact centers allowed for the collection of huge amounts of data. Instead of simply analyzing this information, savvy contact center managers have learned to interpret this data and make changes to improve user experience. 

These same improvements can also have a great impact on the success of your sales team because they can boost answer rates and give your agents more chances to close deals.

Best practices to establish a superb omnichannel contact center

Having an omnichannel contact center for your business can bring a variety of great benefits. But, this doesn’t mean that all omnichannel contact centers have implemented the right structure. Even if it was set up properly, customer trends are always changing, so omnichannel call centers need to be adjusted regularly to remain efficient.

Every omnichannel contact center is unique, so you need to consider your requirements as well as the customers and prospects you’re serving. With that in mind, some of the general best practices you’ll want to follow include:

1. Identify the channels that customers use

The very first step you need to take is to identify the different channels that customers use to interact with your business. While some of these are obvious, current and future clients can reach out to your business in a variety of ways. So, you need to gauge which channels customers are using and make sure that you’re available through all, or at least most of these. 

Remember, the way consumers interact with a company can change over time. So, you should keep a close eye on your customer’s preferences and make changes accordingly.

2. Implement a cloud-based solution

Many contact center decision-makers fear omnichannel because they think they have to tear down all of their current architecture and start from scratch. But, cloud technology has made giant leaps since the development of contact centers. So, all the tools you need to have are now available on cloud deployment. This helps you implement powerful solutions immediately and without costly installation expenses.

The best part is that you won’t need to have particularly powerful machines, just a secure internet connection that’s fast enough to access all of your tools at once. 

3. Choose compatible platforms

We’ve discussed the benefits and importance of having a set of tools that can easily integrate together. As a best practice, you should ensure that all of your tools integrate with a large list of platforms or that they all have APIs you can use to connect them to the rest of your technology stack. 

Remember, having interconnected platforms will improve your efficiency and generate a better customer experience, so select your tools based on their compatibility.

4. Understand the buyer’s journey

The buyer’s journey described the steps that your customers go through before completing a purchase. By analyzing and understanding this process, you’ll be able to provide the right type of support through the appropriate channel at crucial parts of their decision-making process. In other words, you’ll have the ability to subtly influence your customers while delivering the right type of service at the right time.

For instance, if you notice that customers who watch tutorials after clicking on one of your ads tend to make a purchase right away, you can make it so that the tutorial video is part of your conversion flow. 

5. Deploy AI solutions where possible

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is already being used in a collection of different industries, including contact centers. Omnichannel contact centers should make the most of this technology and apply it wherever possible.

A good example would be the deployment of an AI-powered IVR system for telephone requests. Or, an AI assistant that helps customers who request assistance via chat before they are transferred to a live agent.

6. Invest in establishing a solid social media presence

Social media evolved from a publishing platform to a solid source of leads and direct sales for companies in many industries. Even if your business doesn’t actively sell goods or provide services through social media, you need to create profiles and make this channel available to your customers.

The reason for this is that modern consumers use social media as a functional tool that allows them to interact with businesses. If your customers want answers right away, they are more likely to reach out via social media than to send out an email or submit a request through your site, so make sure that your agents are there to help.

7. Create a consistent experience

We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth noting that you need to create a smooth and consistent experience for customers through all channels. Doing so is the ultimate goal of an omnichannel contact center and what sets it apart from multichannel call center facilities. 

The key is to find a way to share data in real time. But, even though this may seem simple, finding a solution that allows your team to access and update the same information across multiple platforms takes a significant amount of planning. 

8. Monitor consumer trends

Social media has been the latest major global trend in terms of how consumers interact with businesses, but you need to keep a close eye on your customer preferences. The channels that your customers prefer will directly impact the channels available through your contact center. So, you need to keep these in mind when making adjustments and deciding how to redistribute your budget.

9. Keep an eye on your KPIs

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that give you a true idea of how your contact center is performing. Rather than focusing on vanity metrics that give you a false sense of direction, the right KPIs will help you identify potential areas of improvement. The right KPIs can also give you an alert if there is something drastically wrong in your contact center.

10. Provide comprehensive training to employees in all departments

While cloud deployment minimizes the need for upskilling sessions, you still need to have training sessions to brief all agents and explain to them the idea behind omnichannel contact centers. Omnichannel strategies always perform best when agents are aware of how they work, so take the time to explain the benefits of this setup and how employees should handle interactions from now on.

Omnichannel contact center FAQs

Below are some of the most common questions that people have when looking into an omnichannel strategy.

Who should use omnichannel contact centers?

While you might assume that only enterprise, large-scale organizations would benefit from an omnichannel strategy, businesses of any size can see improvements. Any company that communicates with customers across multiple communication channels should consider implementing an omnichannel approach.

What are omnichannel KPIs?

As your organization shifts into an omnichannel approach, the call center metrics and KPIs you track should also shift. KPIs should become less focused on volume and more on the overall customer experience. Take note of how issues are resolved and sales are closed across channels.

How long does it take to create an omnichannel contact center?

Creating a fully functional omnichannel strategy typically takes a few weeks to implement with proper planning. Large contact centers with a high number of agents should expect more planning and preparation than smaller contact centers.

Need to improve your omnichannel contact center? Hiya is here to help

Telephone calls are still a crucial component of reliable omnichannel call centers, but not labeling your calls can harm your chances of success. If you want to learn more about identifying your calls and increasing answer rates across your outbound omnichannel contact center, Hiya is here to help. Download our Sales Metrics eBook to find out which metrics you should be optimizing to boost sales.

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Author Laleh Hassibi

Hiya's Director of Content Marketing and Growth