The Omnichannel Contact Center: Q&A with Liz Osborn

The omnichannel contact center — How do you get there? What are the first steps? Where do you focus your resources? How do you measure it?

Liz Osborn, Five9 VP of Product & Solution Marketing, reviews these topics and more in her Q&A session with Susan Hash of Contact Center Pipeline.

With more than 20 years in the technology industry, Liz is an expert in enterprise software and networking. She has deep knowledge of the cloud contact center, sales, marketing and customer service markets including expertise in predictive analytics, social engagement, and customer experience.


WHAT ARE THE TOP CHALLENGES THAT CONTACT CENTERS FACE WHEN TRANSITIONING TO AN OMNICHANNEL STRATEGY?

LIZ OSBORN:

A key challenge is working with siloed applications. Organizations generally have different applications for chat, email, SMS — and they’re all cobbled together on top of a system that was originally built for voice. That makes it very difficult to deliver a seamless experience across channels.

Another challenge for larger organizations, in particular, is that different areas of the organization own different pieces of the customer experience. For example, in a large bank, one group may own checking accounts, another handles mortgages, while another owns credit cards — and each one has its own system. To the customer, it’s one account, but putting together the cross-channel customer experience creates a nightmare of complexity for the organization.

WHAT ARE THE CRITICAL FIRST STEPS THAT CONTACT CENTER LEADERS SHOULD FOCUS ON NOW?

LIZ OSBORN:

First steps will depend on the maturity of the organization and where it is in the omnichannel journey.

If the organization is just beginning and is taking baby steps, they can start by documenting the needs and the wants of their customers and the business, as well as any compliance requirements. For example, for voice calls, customers’ needs may include the hours of operation, speed of answer, max hold times, etc. Then, what are their wants? They want to get their questions answered, they want the agent to be friendly, they don’t to waste their time. You can document all of the needs and wants at a basic level.

Next, focus on building basic access to cross-channel information. For instance, CRM integration — using screen pops to deliver customer information to the agent desktop as a call arrives. This technology has been around for decades, yet statistics show that only about half of contact centers offer that today. Another basic step is to ensure that your IVR application has the ability to collect the data that customers input and transfer that information to the agent. This is another capability that has been around for a long time, but the statistics are even worse here — only about 30% to 40% of contact centers are doing that today.

More sophisticated organizations can begin to look at the overall customer journey–defining the the customer experience and all of the touchpoints from end to end.

Creating a customer journey map will allow you to view the entire customer journey from the first time they hear about you through evaluation of the product, sales and post support — and all the touchpoints that a customer would use for each of those.

–LIZ OSBORN

HOW CAN ORGANIZATIONS IDENTIFY—AND PRIORITIZE—WHICH CHANNELS TO FOCUS ON?

LIZ OSBORN:

Creating a customer journey map will allow you to view the entire customer journey–from the first time they hear about you through evaluation of the product, sales and post support, and all the touchpoints that a customer would use for each of those.

Perform a gap analysis: Create a two-dimensional graph by plotting your customer journey along one axis and, along the other axis, how important that channel is to that customer at that point in time. By looking at and rating the channels, you may find that there some channels your customers are using, but which are not that important to them.

I recommend surveying your customers to find out what their preferences are, as well. There is a lot of great benchmark data available that will give you additional insights into general consumer preferences. For instance, Dimension Data publishes a benchmark survey every year. They offer a free summary that provides quite a bit of data about consumer channel preferences by age. You can put all of that information together — the general preferences along with the specifics for your customer — to identify and prioritize the channels.

WHICH METRICS WILL ENSURE THAT ALL CHANNELS ARE ALIGNED WITH THE OMNICHANNEL STRATEGY?

LIZ OSBORN:

Customer Effort Score is a key metric that is being tracked by more companies. It’s absolutely critical in an omnichannel strategy because, if you’re hard to do business with, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve solved the customer’s problem.There is a lot of industry research which shows that pouring resources into delighting your customers doesn’t generate the loyalty and repeat business like making it easy for them to do business with your company. That is where you really see the payoff.

This Q&A was originally published in the Contact Center Pipeline Magazine June 2015 Issue.

 

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