3 Valuable Considerations for Omnichannel Transformation

When it comes to adopting new technology, contact centers prefer easy transitions with minimal impact on continuity. This is fine for routine updates of existing technology, but this is not sufficient for legacy-based contact centers as they try to keep up with digital-first customers. A transformational approach is needed, making omnichannel a top priority for IT decision makers. According to research by the Aberdeen Group (via Forbes), companies with strong omnichannel CX strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. This is compared to 33% for companies with weaker omnichannel CX strategies.

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The first step towards omnichannel is to understand how it’s different from having multichannel capabilities. The basic building blocks for omnichannel were outlined in a recent blog post, which offers a great place to start when approaching an omnichannel digital strategy. However, to make effective buying decisions that go beyond being transitional, other factors must be considered. Here are three to get your journey off on the right foot.

Be ready to move on from point solutions.

Omnichannel is transformational by representing an approach that’s based on a different problem set. Contact centers with long-standing infrastructure tend to focus on technology that optimizes internal operations and supports agent-centric performance metrics. Staying with these technologies only allows the contact center to transition to updated versions. While there may be comfort with that familiarity, the focus remains unchanged.

It’s easy to see how this model can be difficult to move away from. But today’s contact center solutions, especially omnichannel, focus on a different problem set — namely customer experience (CX). This requires a more holistic approach to technology with capabilities that are based on integrating platforms and applications from across the organization, rather than just the contact center.

As contact center leaders come to embrace this customer-centric model, it will become clear that a continuation of solution-driven technology investments will only serve to propagate a legacy infrastructure that cannot meet today’s customer needs.

Engage with stakeholders outside the contact center.

Omnichannel can be highly transformational, but only if call center leaders see the bigger picture. Operationally, the call centers have evolved over time and have functioned largely as a standalone entity from the rest of the business. Their needs were different from the rest of the organization and required purpose-built technology. As such, technology buying decisions occurred in a vacuum with little consideration for business needs outside the contact center.

Today, the focus on CX has become strategic and supporting that goes beyond the call center. Research from PwC found that 86% of customers will pay more for better customer experiences. However, according to SuperOffice, only 44% of organizations are planning to invest in CX next year.

Providing customer service has long been the contact center’s role, but CX is the sum total of all the touchpoints a customer has with the business. To properly support that, call center leaders must think about this broader set of needs when making technology decisions.

Omnichannel contact center solutions have been developed with that model in mind, where the core business value comes from drawing customer-related information from across the entire organization. Contact centers and CRM platforms certainly contain a wealth of customer information but omnichannel provides the means to traverse the siloes of sales, marketing, accounting, logistics, and other departments – helping organizations to fully understand their customers and their journeys.

These functions have little need to interact as a matter of course, but when it comes to having a common focus on CX, the need becomes clear. This is where omnichannel takes CX outside the contact center. So, to make effective buying decisions, the needs of these stakeholders must be considered.

Partner with vendors who understand omnichannel.

Even if call center leaders do all these things to properly assess the role of omnichannel and involve the right stakeholders, another element is needed for success. Many call center leaders have been dealing with a core group of vendors for years, if not decades. Familiarity and trust go a long way in maintaining those relationships, especially when staying close to the legacy model that has been in place for so long.

While many of these same vendors provide omnichannel, this is a new model and a new approach to how contact centers should operate. Today’s vendor landscape is not only more crowded, but it’s also filled with a mix from both the legacy world of premise-based systems and the software world of cloud-native providers. No two omnichannel offerings are alike and two factors will be critical for choosing the right partner.

First will be finding a partner that understands where you are on your omnichannel journey – not just for the technology requirements, but also for how it’s going to support your omnichannel CX strategy. They may very well play a leading role in helping you shape that strategy, so this relationship will likely be more partner-based than transactional.

Secondly, on a more practical level, the more legacy-based your infrastructure, the greater the challenge will be for omnichannel to integrate across all of your pieces. This requires a separate, more technical discussion but needs to be viewed here as a key starting point to determine the right fit for omnichannel technology partners.