Omni-channel Technology in Contact Centers. Value-add or ubiquitous?
Well, it's not quite that easy, yet. But, it is well on its way to becoming ubiquitous.
Now, for those of you in the omni-channel technology world, don't get too upset with me! The word "ubiquitous", for many people, may be perceived negatively. However, I argue, far from it. When something becomes ubiquitous, it has now become a necessity. And, this is very good! It means that consumers and customers expect it, want it, need it, and won't do business with you unless you have it.
Now, I am writing from my own experience, with over 28 years in the call center industry (Oops, I should say "contact center"), both onshore (U.S. domestic) and nearshore/offshore (International). In the earlier days of call centers (1995 to 2005), you simply made a phone call to get support (Channel #1). For example: I am on hold so long! You don't have blue? ... or did you say you don't have it new .... I cannot understand you? How do I return this CD, it won't play in my CD player?
Then, starting around the year 2000, you could send an email and, wait for a response over three days (Channel #2). Email was cool when it first came out, and it was useful for certain customer support requests, but for most people today, email simply takes too long and has never been perceived as a great way to deliver quality service (i.e. poor NPS!). So, what happened after 2005? Steve Jobs and the Millennials happened.
Mobile and Millennials, Oh My!
Steve Jobs and Apple came out with the the first real smartphone. And, as we now know, it has revolutionized the way we communicate, connect and learn. In addition, it has fundamentally changed the norm of what people define as "communication". For example, I really don't want to see you, hear you, or visit you, I simply want to communicate with you and get done what I need done. The Millennial generation grew up with this, and has played a fundamental role in driving the creation and adoption of what we now call omni-channel (i.e. multi-channel) communications. Chat (Channel 3), SMS (Channel 4), Social (Channel 5), Web (Channel 6), Video (Chanel 7), Self-Service (Chanel 8) and on-and-on. The result! We need to meet our customers and serve them at any time and place of their choosing. Therefore, we need an omni-channel platform that meets the needs of today, and the ever expanding channels of tomorrow.
So, Value-Add or Ubiquitous? It is safe to say that if you do not offer a simple and easy way for your customers to connect with you via Chat, SMS, Social, Web and Phone, you need to implement this quickly. And, there are so many excellent options, providers and cost models to quickly and cost-effectively get you started. These channels are ubiquitous (very good) and high value-add (also very good).
Now, in the near future (3-4 years), it is safe to say that your customers may increasingly want to connect with you via some other channel not mentioned above. However, finding a solution today will cover you for tomorrow. Why? Because omni-channel platform service providers are built in the cloud (IP Internet Networks) and can handle almost any new form of communication (with the exception of "smell" :). I don't think we have yet figured out to to digitize "smell," but hang tight, I'll bet it is on its way!
If you'd like to learn more about how to connect with a great omni-channel solution, or to find a contact center that is already using omni-channel, connect with me via any of the following "ubiquitous" channels! Email: email@example.com, or call/TEXT/SMS at 602-312-8900.
Emerging Global Services, LLC