“All customer channels are one”, but how?
How do you deliver the "omni-channel" experience your customers expect?
Chris recently wrote a great blog describing why the Contact Centre is a digital channel. In this blog he introduced you to the fact that "customers of course have never seen their interactions with companies as channel-based. They are looking for a service or some other outcome, and will interact whichever way they prefer or find easiest."
The next logical question you might be asking is, how do I enable my organisation to deliver this experience? There are three main pillars which need to be addressed from a customers' perspective:
Persistence of context
- The interaction and the associated information generated by a customer with one channel should be known and available to all other channels.
For example, if I'm using a banking customer service mobile app, that puts me through a number of problem solving solutions, before directing me to a 'click to call' or 'chat' to give me more information, the system should be designed in such a way that the operator answering my question should have all the information I have already provided, and I should not have to re-identify myself.
- Information available in each channel should be the same.
For example, when I browse the web on a laptop to research a product or service , I should have the same access to the same information as if I called, went into a branch or was browsing on a mobile device.
- Where feasible, what a customer can do in each channel should be the same.
For example, if I receive an email on my phone stating that I have a new e-statement from my bank, I should be able to access that statement from my mobile device, not have to find a computer to retrieve it (a current example from my own bank).
So how can this be achieved?
It's a big question and will differ from organisation to organisation, there are some fundamental changes you can make though which will significantly improve your chances of being able to offer this kind of experience.
Customer Centric systems
Achieving customer centricity in your systems means that the customer is the primary business entity which all other information is connected to. There is a single source of this information and any information connected to the customer is readily available and accessible to each and every channel.
It is important to ensure there is persistence of context. Every time an action is taken by an authenticated customer this should be recorded against their unique identifier, and then made available to agents and systems. This ranges from the traditional call history and notes to pages viewed online or even search terms.
Single Source of Knowledge
A single knowledge source means that only one set of knowledge is stored and maintained. This knowledge is then segmented through metadata (information which helps to identify the data) to be presented in different ways to different people based on who they are and how they access it.
For example, if you have a terms and conditions document you expose the same document to customers through the web as you expose to staff members through their service system. The document may then have additional information which is only exposed when viewed by someone accessing it as an employee.
Separate the layers
The ways which your customer consume content is changing, and will continue to change. There's a great (but long) presentation which discusses the changing internet trends in detail, but one standout slide everyone with an online channel must pay attention to is the shift to mobile traffic as a percentage of global internet traffic.
To achieve a truly unified 'omni-channel' experience which maintains context, has consistent information and unified functionality, you will need to separate the presentation layer (the user interface ) from the content layer (the information) from the business logic layer (the rules) etc. This will enable you to deliver the same content and functionality to any device in a manner which is optimised for the devices and channels it is accessed from.
Each organisation will have their own unique challenges in delivering a truly unified experience and it will depend heavily on their existing systems and system designs, some may be able to adapt whilst others might need to entirely replace their existing legacy applications and start again.