Customer Experience

How to Create an Omnichannel Contact Center in 7 Steps

September 6, 2021
12:00 am

An omnichannel contact center offers more than just customer communication — it’s a powerful tool for creating memorable customer experiences (CX) and strengthening brand loyalty. In fact, according to the Aberdeen Group, companies with well-defined omnichannel CX achieve a 91 percent higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate compared to those without.

So, how exactly do you build the types of experiences that keep people coming back for more?

Let’s dig into what an omnichannel approach is, why it’s the preferred method of communication these days, and seven steps you can take to implement it into your CX strategy.

What is an omnichannel contact center?

An omnichannel contact center unifies all communication channels and allows customers to communicate with you however they prefer — whether that’s via phone, social media, email, text messaging, video, or live chat.

This approach provides a consistent experience regardless of the method or device customers choose to communicate through. People can effortlessly move from chat to video, for instance, without skipping a beat, and service agents have the benefit of accessing customer information and historical interactions in one place.

Omnichannel vs multichannel contact center

A multichannel contact center seems similar to an omnichannel contact center on the surface — it also gives customers the option to reach out to the company via multiple channels. The difference here is that the multichannel approach keeps every communication channel in a silo with its own team, system, and messaging.

Omnichannel, on the other hand, stitches all these channels together into one cohesive whole.

The 2019-2020 Intelligent Customer Engagement research study by Nemertes reported that omnichannel use has gone up 23% since 2016. Here are a few reasons why people are taking the omnichannel approach over multichannel:

  • All customer data is centralized so agents can resolve queries faster and reduce customer frustration.
  • Customers can move between communication channels seamlessly without having to repeat information or start their journey over.
  • Building the customer journey across multiple channels helps create more engaging, personalized experiences.
  • With everything in one spot, it’s easier to integrate existing or new tech tools.

Now you know the what and the why, let’s move onto how you can begin implementing an omnichannel strategy into your contact center.

7 steps to create an omnichannel contact center

1. Understand the customer journey

The customer journey is a collection of interactions and touchpoints customers go through to buy your products or services. Mapping this journey will help you tap into customer behavior and needs.

As you begin to understand how people experience your company, you’ll be able to identify which communication channels customers prefer, how they feel about your brand, and even discover areas of improvement that can boost customer retention. Understanding how people interact at certain touchpoints also opens opportunities to personalize customer interactions and determine when to implement automated solutions like chatbots or self-service support.

2. Unify your CX strategies

An omnichannel strategy can’t be implemented in a silo. Instead, it requires working in tandem with other teams such as sales and marketing. Before taking action, sit down with leadership teams to discuss:

  • The voice and messaging of your brand. You don’t want customer service agents to say one thing, while marketers say another. Make sure your message and voice are consistent across all channels and teams. Brand guidelines are a great way to do that.
  • The best use of each communication channel. For example, your contact center and marketing teams will probably both respond to social media posts by customers. There should be a strategy to determine who answers what, how to minimize response time, and where feedback ends up.
  • How to align customer service goals. Whether it’s upsells, net retention, response times per channel, or another customer service KPI, define your service goals and how you’ll measure them. Be clear about what success looks like and keep the overall company CX goals and KPIs in mind.

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3. Properly train your agents

No matter how great your technology is, excellent customer service still hinges on the agent. As the face of your company, they are in direct communication with your customers and have the power to turn a negative experience on its head.

Agent training helps employees navigate the software (especially after an update), better understand the nuances of omnichannel communication, and teaches how to best serve your customers while remaining on-brand.


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4. Implement cloud technology

Cloud-based software is a must for a smooth-running omnichannel contact center. This is the technology that unifies all communication channels — from phone to live chat and social media — to help create a consistent customer experience. People can choose to contact your business via social media, for example, and easily move to phone or video without having to repeat information or start the interaction from scratch.

Not only does this relieve customer frustration but it sets your agents up for success by giving them instant access to important information for faster query resolution. When agents have all the tools they need to do their best work, it’s much more likely those who contact your brand will leave satisfied and feel like their issues were solved.

5. Invest in the right CX software

With so many types of omnichannel CX software out there, how can you tell which is best for your business? To find out, start by asking these questions:

  • What issues should the software solve?
  • Which functions are important to my team?
  • What frequent requests do we receive from customers?
  • What’s the implementation process like and how long does it take?

While there will always be a small learning curve, CX technology should make the lives of your agents and customers easier. Keep that in mind before going overboard with all the bells and whistles upfront.

6. Manage the transition

Even if you have a solid strategy in place and the best tech lined up, there’s bound to be a transition period when introducing an omnichannel approach. For example, agents won’t be used to fielding multiple chats, audio calls, video calls, and social media customer service requests all at once.

Here are some ways to manage that transition and make it easier on your team:

  • Organize your team’s time and duties. One team could be responsible for social media while another is responsible for live chat. Or you could rotate responsibilities according to availability and skillset.
  • Let less experienced agents shadow veterans. Even if omnichannel communication is new to your company, it might not be new to every agent. Make use of the experience your agents already have.
  • Communicate and check in on milestones. Be transparent about why the transition is taking place and what you hope to achieve as a team. It’s important to check in with agents frequently throughout the process and make sure they aren’t facing any major blockers, too.

7. Enable self-service

A self-service option is a part of any great omnichannel contact center. If customers can solve basic issues on their own, it’s a win-win. They leave your site feeling fulfilled and your team will be freed up to handle more complex requests.

An easy way to build self-service solutions is through AI chatbots. These bots can be connected to your knowledge base and provide answers to frequently asked customer queries.

Statistics of knowledge base benefits
Organizations that provided a knowledge base saw a reduction in manual customer communication.

But be sure to learn from other’s mistakes. According to 2019 research, many companies have implemented AI-driven technology too quickly without thinking of their customers’ needs or connecting the bots to the appropriate channels. Instead of an omnichannel experience, they ended up with frustrated customers and made it even harder to communicate.

Don’t forget: customer opinions matter

An omnichannel strategy only works if it’s aligned with your customers’ needs. A Net Promoter Score (NPS) can be a gateway into this type of essential information. CSAT surveys can also help you monitor how well received the new technology is. Just be sure to optimize your surveys with proper planning and best practices.

Remember: there is always room for improvement as customer needs and technology evolve. Once you begin to receive customer insights, analyze that data and tweak your omnichannel strategy as necessary.

What factors do you think improve CX in an omnichannel contact center? Let us know in the comments.


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