Don't be overwhelmed by omnichannel: A practical guide to implementation
By Michael Ringman, CIO, TELUS International
Omnichannel, omni-channel or omni channel?Even the spelling is shrouded in a certain level of mystery, making it of little wonder why retailers might be hesitant to jump from a multichannel to an omnichannel strategy. In fact, many brands often get the two confused, thinking that a wide offering of support channels equates to an omnichannel approach.
The reality is, however, that omnichannel customer service isn't just about who has the longest list of ‘contact us' options available, but about making the customer journey seamless from one touchpoint to the next. For example, in an omnichannel environment a customer can purchase an item online, pick it up in-store and have a call center agent handle the return, all with minimal customer effort. Consumers today expect this level of integration from the brands they love and interact with, and those that are able to deliver an omnichannel customer experience have the clear advantage.
Assessing omnichannel readiness
When it comes to omnichannel implementation, knowing where you want to go is half the battle, but the bigger obstacle is determining how to get there. Everest Group, in partnership with Telus International created a two-part series on Delivering Omnichannel Customer Experience, which details the steps needed for organizations to execute their transition to omnichannel.
As the report shares, a good starting point is to assess your company's overall readiness to make the leap. Review what resources you currently have available — both from a human capital and technology perspective — and identify any gaps. You'll be better equipped for success after fully understanding the requirements and challenges of the process and laying the right foundation, including an organizational culture focused on putting the customer first.
The omnichannel trifecta: people, process and technology
Once you have an overview of where your company stands in terms of omnichannel readiness, the next step is planning for, and investing in, the three key elements of an omnichannel transition: people, process and technology. This means ensuring you have highly-skilled team members to support complex customer interactions, investing in technology that can integrate systems and information from all channels, and redefining business processes to account for a higher degree of consumer data.
Data is a significant player in any successful omnichannel strategy, helping to identify patterns and behaviors that can be used to improve your product and service. How you choose to collect, store and analyze big and small data should be a key consideration in the planning and implementation process in order to inform a better customer experience.
Measuring success in an omnichannel environment
Omnichannel customer service changes the way brands interact with the customer and how we measure those interactions. Prior to the emergence of omnichannel, many brands and contact centers were satisfied using metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT), which emphasizes quantity over quality. The faster the call, the more successful the contact center, but that's an overly simplistic notion for an often complex scenario. Sure, a customer service call could be short, but if the customer has to call back seven more times to have their issue fully resolved, was it really that successful?
Omnichannel is about delivering a seamless customer experience overall, and as a result, metrics and measurements need to evolve to reflect this new way of thinking. No need to throw AHT to the wayside as it still offers a certain degree of value, but it should be considered in concert with more customer outcome focused metrics like Customer Effort Score and Customer Satisfaction.
In the end, retailers with a well-planned and holistic approach to omnichannel are quick to reap the rewards; rewards that include enhanced customer experience, top-line growth and reduced cost of operations. And while a transition to omnichannel may seem complicated at first glance, with the proper prep work and a trusted partner, the hardest part will be deciding the right way to spell it.