Today’s businesses rely on healthy customer engagement initiatives for profitability and long-term customer loyalty. Being present at all customer touch points with personalized, relevant communications is not only a customer expectation, it’s critical for a brand’s survival. Consistency of messaging is crucial at each step, all the way from marketing programs to the contact center, both having direct contact with prospects and customers.
Until recently, contact centers weren’t considered strategic; they were not seen as strong representatives of the brand, but rather in a purely operational role of customer service. Today, however, the contact center is a critical component of customer engagement, and brands rely on contact centers for their place in the customer journey and their ability to secure customer engagement and loyalty for the long term.
1. Contact Centers as Part of the Omnichannel Customer Engagement Strategy
Gartner defines Customer Experience Management (CEM) as “The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy”.
As a subset of CEM, customer journey management, an Omnichannel engagement strategy works to break down typical department, channel and system silos in order to unify the customer engagement process.
Silo organizations are usually hindered by poor exchange of information, bad assumptions, lack of common standards and duplication of effort, all adding up to brand dilution and inconsistent customer experiences. However, in these new Omnichannel configurations, cross-channel customer service context and data are collected, analyzed and shared to support real-time activity of customer-facing groups like the contact center.
2. Implement Current Contact Center Technology to Facilitate Customer Engagement
Today’s customers are digital: They are everywhere, due to technology. Contact centers need to adapt to keep pace by implementing technologies that serve the ‘new’ customer profile; solutions and tools that not only signify concern for the customer’s time, but also provide a seamless experience will radically improve customer engagement.
CRM software is necessary for keeping customer data accessible in real-time, which helps contact center agents, as well as others, in customer-facing channels.
Keeping up with technology advancements may be challenging when it comes to satisfactory customer relationships. However, they are the necessary tools that bring together fragmented customer data and that allow agents to delight customers and to earn long-term support of a brand.
3. Empower Agents to be Authentic and Relevant to Deliver the Ultimate Customer Experience
Showing connected customer data using new technology is just the start of an optimized contact center environment. Agents need to be properly trained to deliver consistency in message and authenticity in tone as part of the seamless Omnichannel experience.
At the heart of any successful customer engagement initiative is the human factor, and this is where the contact center can be most effective against other programs implemented by other groups in the enterprise.
Personalization wins every time when it comes to customer engagement, so contact center agents need to be trained or refreshed in soft skills for satisfactory engagements. Being able to speak with an interested and helpful tone will convey empathy and a willingness to create a positive dialogue.
Soliciting agent feedback about call center operations is also important when it comes to creating natural and authentic customer relationships.
Agents who are involved and feel a part of the process will buy in to new methodologies and participate at a greater extent when they have input into customer engagement techniques. Where appropriate, social media contact with customers also goes a long way toward solidifying customer relationships when their ideas and opinions are solicited.
4. Optimize the Contact Center for Omnichannel Efficiencies
When soft skills and new technologies combine, the contact center becomes a hub of optimized customer interactions. The key to remember, though, is that channels in most enterprises aren’t integrated and need to be connected to realize the most benefits.
Contact center agents may be fully capable of interacting with customers via phone, email or web chat, but if the center isn’t working efficiently, the right agent may not get directed to customers in a timely and effective manner.
With the right Omnichannel planning and routing strategies, agents will be able to manage their work and challenges, thereby improving satisfaction and minimizing turnover training and costs. In a dynamic organization that works toward the ultimate in customer satisfaction, agents are more likely to get involved and stay engaged longer.
The right tools, processes and recognition are critical as contact centers operate in Omnichannel enterprises that value customer satisfaction and prize agents who deliver on a consistent basis.
Maximizing a contact center as part of an Omnichannel organization requires an unrelenting focus on the customer. Anything less will result in customers noticing a lack of dedicated resources, causing them to be unwilling to meet the contact center digitally.
However, with advanced contact center technologies, savvy agents and an optimized quality assurance program, companies will consistently deliver on brand promises and deliver customer satisfaction and engagement for life for the brand.
A version of this blog originally appears here: http://customerthink.com/how-to-maximize-your-contact-center-for-omnichannel-engagement/