In December, I had 100+ interactions with 2 different airlines as I tried to track 5 pieces of family luggage that had gone missing during an international trip. As I told my story, over and over again, oh how I wished that the airlines and agents involved had a sense of my customer journey and were able to pick up from the last call and not start all over. And that the website reflected the latest information that I had given an agent. And that the baggage people at the airport were empowered to text me when they had found the luggage.
Omnichannel has been a big topic in contact centers for the past few years. Today the discussion goes beyond the notion that customers are connecting with enterprises over many communications channels using a variety of devices. The new element is that customer often use of multiple channels simultaneously and there is an expectation that agents are knowledgeable about the steps that the customer has taken before reaching out to an agent.
When a customer calls into a contact center, it is increasingly not the first step they’ve taken to solve their problem or get an answer to a question. They have typically tried some kind of self-service, like visiting the company’s website, used web chat or sent an email. They may also have reached out on social media or tried using a mobile application.
In 2015, the importance of these non-voice channels became more clear than ever. For almost a decade, contact center pundits have forecast that email, web chat, social media and most recently mobile application interactions would inalterably change the contact center landscape. It turns out that it is not any one of these digital channels but a combination of them all that is heralding a new era in customer care. After years of steady change, the tipping point is upon us.
The most thought-provoking prediction from Dimension Data’s 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report is that digital interactions will overtake voice calls by the end of 2016. And solution providers and customers are scrambling to create offers and deploy application that match this reality. Projects that had been on the “someday” list of things to do for many companies, e.g., to add web chat or SMS channels to their customer care operation, are suddenly rising to the top.
During a March 17th Uniphore webinar, attendees’ own experience confirmed Dimension Data’s results. Nineteen percent of attendees reported during a live poll that less than 50 percent of the interactions coming into their centers was voice and another 35 percent put the number between 50 and 75 percent.
To hear more about what companies can do better equip agents to support customers using voice and non-voice channels, listen to the lively discussion between me and David Holmes, Uniphore AVP Omnichannel Solutions.
Written by : Sheila McGee Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the contact center and customer experience markets. McGee-Smith Analytics works with companies ranging in size from the Fortune 100 to start-ups, examining the competitive environment for communications products and services. Her insight helps enterprises and solution providers develop strategies to meet the escalating demands of today’s consumer and business customers. Ms. McGee-Smith is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, user group and sales meetings, as well as an oft-quoted authority on news and trends in the communications market. Her views can be found on Twitter @mcgeesmith and in frequent postings on No Jitter.