Why you should be communicating with customers with more than just voice

Modern living dictates that we all use more than just phone calls and email to communicate.

At home and at work we all tend to use a range of communication dialogues – from phone, SMS, chatbots & web chat to social media and email. For organisations to be able to reach and engage with their customers, they must be able to efficiently communicate with and serve customers in a range of channels too – in a way that gives customers options that are convenient for them. If nothing else, the big winner for companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies is that they retain around 89% of their customers.

If you’re not embracing it for your organisation, you’re missing a trick.

Omnichannel must be a seamless experience

A successful omnichannel experience is one that is seamless for the customer – one where no individual element of a communication journey is jarring, repeats a step or causes frustration.

My experience this morning was a good example.

I messaged Virgin Money through their app. The bot responded but couldn’t add enough detail so it was elevated to a live chat with an agent who did have more detail but needed me to call. This was then elevated to a voice call where the agent could deal with my query. At every touchpoint all the relevant information was available via their CRM which meant I didn’t need to repeat it over and over again. Yes, my journey moved from chatbot, to online agent to live agent but I wasn’t left frustrated because my issue was resolved efficiently.

It was great customer service and great customer interaction.

How can you seamlessly handle customer contact from mode to mode?

Seamless is the key word here. Taking customer interactions from any mode of conversation and elevating or changing them where necessary – and doing so seamlessly – should be part of every modern organisation’s communication strategy.

The example above demonstrates the omnichannel path perfectly:

webchat driven by a chatbot that couldn’t self-serve

→ this meant a live agent began to respond

→ but then this wasn’t enough because the customer sentiment wasn’t coming across correctly

→ so it changed to a voice call (sent via a WhatsApp link) which could also be elevated to a video call

→ from the voice/video call I could be sent some information – a phone number, text update, website link – text through to me so there was no need for me to write it down.

Some organisations either don’t have these various elements in play at all – mostly because they haven’t yet modernised their technology – or they may have disparate platforms that serve some but not all the elements. They may have an SMS gateway or WhatsApp which is not part of the contact centre but is moderated and run by the social media team in the marketing department, the end result of which is clunky customer service where you may not get a response for 24 hours – if you’re lucky.

The benefits of adopting an omnichannel approach are far-reaching, from the efficiency it drives for the customer (in terms of customer experience) to the time-saving benefits it offers an organisation. As the demands of an increasingly competitive environment grow, ignore it at your peril…

The simple answer to being able to deliver this seamless experience is to use a modern Microsoft contact centre platform, one that offers a range of communication methods that allow your organisation’s customers to contact you in the method of their choice.

What about the “threat” of AI?

It’s important to remember that the prevalence of AI within the omnichannel offering is not a threat to jobs.

AI should complement and enhance agents, not replace them. Some organisations may indeed look to downsize but others, typically those with 50-100 seats, will find that as the amount of inbound communication increases so does the need to be able to handle the increased activity – and handle it seamlessly.

Let’s take a look at how we at Symity demonstrate Anywhere365 to clients as an example. We recently met with an organisation that needs to capture information to gain insights that are submitted into a central repository. They are mostly contacted in the same way at the outset – feedback is either submitted by an email to the contact centre or via a voice call. This contact is downloaded, transcribed and all the detail submitted into a database so that all the necessary information is to hand at all times. This saves hours and hours of time for both customer and organisation. A win-win.

AI can relieve agents of mundane tasks, freeing them up for interactions where human contact is needed. We recently spoke to a legal service that often receives requests from customers to provide details of local solicitors as part of their service. In this example, an agent currently spends time using a customer’s postcode to look up details and then reads them out to the customer. This is where AI comes into its own: this entire process can be fully automated.

True value is achieved by a two-pronged approach to omnichannel

  1. You think of it from the perspective of the customer
  2. You think of it from the employee’s perspective – by giving them the tools to do what they need to do easily, your employees will be happy…

And happy employees make for a better customer experience.

We’re finding that particularly where organisations have invested in Teams they are now entering a new phase: they know their telephony works and they are looking at what the next steps will be. The real power in Teams, which most organisations have yet to realise, is in its interoperability with other systems – or even the replacement of other systems with applications on Teams. Like it or not, having a “single pane of glass’ to work in is incredibly attractive, and Teams delivers that brilliantly.

What are the benefits to your organisation of using omnichannel dialogue management?

Improved customer satisfaction.

Improved customer experience.

As a result of that, improved customer loyalty.

Internally your organisation benefits from high employee satisfaction and experience.

And you sell more.

It’s win-win-win.

Omnichannel is here now and can empower your staff to do more with less.

The only loss to your organisation is if you don’t think about omnichannel or don’t do anything about it – your competitors race ahead and you lose market share.

For more information how Symity can help you with your Contact Centre requirements, get in touch.

Photo of Ben Dobson

Chris Goodwill

Strategic Partner Manager and Solution Specialist