The Omni-Channel Agent Experience
By Donna Fluss
In this age of digital transformation, customers and prospects must be able to easily access an enterprise from any channel – phone, self-service (websites, interactive voice response (IVR) systems, intelligent virtual agents (IVAs)), email, chat, co-browse, SMS, social media and video. Contact center agents, and other company employees, must be able to deliver a consistent, personalized customer experience across all channels, and provide timely resolution, ideally in the first contact. The objective is for companies to deliver an outstanding customer experience at every touchpoint and throughout the customer journey. Getting this done cost-effectively, given the magnitude of the effort, it is proving to be challenging for companies.
Contact centers have been transitioning to omni-channel environments for close to 20 years. First came multi-channel contact centers, where various channels were supported by separate groups of agents, typically using different systems and practices. Contact centers are now striving to become integrated omni-channel servicing environments, which is a necessity for companies undergoing a digital transformation.
In order to transition to omni-channel environments, contact centers need a new generation of servicing technology and systems that position their agents to deliver a consistent experience across all channels. This includes contact center infrastructure solutions (automatic call distributors (ACDs)) that integrate interactions coming from all channels, giving agents a standardized interface for accessing customer information and resolving all inquiries. Customer and agents must be able to transition easily between channels. Agents must have immediate and timely access to a servicing/customer relationship management (CRM) application that captures and shares everything customers have done and requested throughout all touch points and channels. These primary solutions, the ACD and CRM, should be complemented by context-sensitive and self-learning knowledge-base systems with standardized policies and best practices that apply to all channels. Lastly, in the more sophisticated contact centers, context-sensitive real-time guidance solutions should be in the background to provide guidance to agents as well as to other employees who interact with customers.
While this sounds futuristic, most of the technology needed to build omni-channel contact centers and servicing environments is currently available. As enterprises are starting to undergo digital transformations, they are becoming better positioned to provide the necessary support to contact centers. (Digital transformations require changes in systems and the company culture.) For companies to succeed in addressing their customers’ needs, contact center leaders should be active participants in the digital transformation initiatives, as they’ve been dealing with these issues for years. With the support of the rest of the enterprise, omni-channel agents will be better positioned to meet the expectations of the digital generation.