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The time for an omnichannel customer service approach is here. Even if your organization doesn’t develop a formal program, there’s a solid chance that your organization already employs some components of omnichannel. Omnichannel service approaches are multichannel and include familiar communication vehicles: phone, email, web, walk up, and live chat. Some even offer social media and chatbot support; some still offer support by fax.
If you are considering launching such a multifaceted effort, it’s very important to create and maintain a vision—the overarching plan for doing so. In so doing, you must define the actual user experience that includes insight for what users will encounter when they use expanded communication channels to log a call or report an issue. Once these pieces are considered, you must then design a memorable experience for the user lifecycle that maps to the needs of your users and aligns to your organization’s values.
When driving the creation of an omnichannel program, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Most importantly, identify the internal users that you want to target with the services provided. If you open up communication channels to one certain area of the business, identify what the user needs are for this area to determine how you can best serve them. When identifying these users, profile them so you are able to determine what matters most to each group of users; in so doing, consider what they find most preferable.
Once the most prominent user profile has been created and this group’s needs are understood, you can align their needs with the organization’s overall goals. Next, baseline the user journey and what their experiences are prior to your launching the expanded communication efforts (this can be done actually for each user segment that you wish to serve with the new communication channels). When baselining these experiences, place yourself in the user’s shoes, using whatever relevant tools can help you do this; voice of the user surveys, call recordings, and feedback from users from previous calls can more precisely validate the current customer experience.
During the journey to an omnichannel environment, don’t try to be all things to all people. Just because you offer users new and expanded communication channels doesn’t mean that everyone will be happy with your decisions and how you are able to involve them in the services that you provide.
Create an action plan to close the gaps across people, process, and technology as they are identified. Take steps to understand where you can differentiate yourself with your users. Prioritize your focus and map out the best experiences and conduct a gap analysis between the current state and future customer journeys. When the user experience is defined, begin to plan how you will implement the new communication approach. Some factors are more important than others; for example, don’t be afraid to identify metrics to measure success, provide context, and show you can personalize the experience.
Let’s take a look at a user experience. An internal user places a ticket for support through a self-service portal, but the issue is non-critical. However, after six hours, the user calls to check on the ticket. What started as a web-based ticket has crossed to voice. After listening to the status, the user says he still wants some assisted service and would like to talk with a live agent. Given the low priority nature of the call, the user is offered a callback. The callback is then made at the most appropriate time with full context and follow up given as able.
User expectations for communicating through multiple channels grow as they become more comfortable. Omnichannel self-service solutions mean empowered users, who can receive support in one channel and seamlessly transition to another. A conversation beginning on social media can be moved to direct message or text and continued. Or it can be moved to a phone call with all of the relevant context preserved across channels.
Omnichannel approaches don’t need to be implemented or supported with every possible channel. However, whatever support channels are selected and offered must be monitored and be responsive to queries or questions. When identifying user metrics, you should realize that each has its valid place. The ones you align with depend on the business and how to serve those within it. No matter the metric identified, the key best practice is to align the day-to-day operational metrics in the service center so that the user experience metric can actually measure success.
As you take what you designed and its principles to drive user experience, you need to adjust the resources allocated. In doing so, adjust your training and staffing of resources to align to most used experiences. Real omnichannel approaches require focusing on the user no matter the channel where they contact you. The user journey must progress—no repeating, no steps backwards. Each interaction must push the customer journey forward. A user can chat with an agent through a desktop machine then switch to text, and they can even pick up the phone and speak to the agent if need be.
Delivering a great experience raises value and lets you answer support tickets as quickly as is possible. Through omnichannel, service desk reps have the needed information to deliver a personal, high-touch and even a rewarding experience. Regardless of how many channels are available for users to interact with the service desk, the service desk must be able to respond to the business’ needs. Also, within true omnichannel organizations, the service desk teams are really evolving and becoming more and more user representatives and “experience associates.”
The time for an omnichannel customer service approach is now. Omnichannel service approaches are multichannel and include communication vehicles that most are aware of: phone, email, web, walk up, and live chat. When formally launching such an expansion effort, it’s highly important to create and maintain a vision—the overarching plan to meet your service needs and to improve the user experience.
Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord is the president TOPdesk USA. She’s also a public speaker, a contributor to several leading industry publications, and a service management expert.
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