Today's customer has a variety of different channels at their fingertips through which they can engage with companies, from phone and email to live chat and social media.

Most of these means of communication are digital, and customers today are often more comfortable utilizing digital channels. Many companies believe that simply offering these channels means they have covered their bases.

But if you are truly committed to delivering the highest level of customer care, the bare minimum is not good enough. The most effective solution is an omnichannel platform that can streamline your communication channels, creating efficiencies and increasing customer satisfaction.

More importantly, you need to share the digital-first mindset of your consumers, and that requires finding an omnichannel contact center that has adopted a digital-first approach to customer experience.

What is an omnichannel contact center?

The omnichannel approach to customer service is couched in the belief that touchpoints are not to be viewed in isolation. Rather, each touchpoint is part of a customer journey.

Every channel is to be set up and managed with the expressed purpose of creating a consistent customer experience at all times. Because today’s customers expect nothing less.

They want to be able to access the information they need whenever and wherever they want it, and they expect consistency across all channels — even when interacting with them simultaneously.

NICE inContact
conducted a CX Transformation Benchmark study that reported 91 percent of customers expect seamless transitions between channels.

They covet speed and flexibility, reliability and transparency, and competence and personal attention. If you can’t meet even their most basic needs, the reputation of your brand is going to suffer.

In addition to providing a seamless customer experience, an omnichannel system should lead to reduced call times, reduced customer-agent interactions, and cost savings.

Multichannel vs Omni-channel

Understanding the difference between multichannel support and omnichannel support will help illustrate why the latter is so effective in addressing the needs of today’s customers.

Multichannel support is the practice of providing several communication methods through which your customers can engage with your business. Each channel is independent of the other. They are often even managed by completely different groups of customer service agents.

Omnichannel support is the act of bringing all channels together under one roof. By streamlining all communication methods, you are providing the opportunity for seamless customer service and offering customers a choice in how to contact you.

According to research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, omnichannel contact centers had 55 percent less customer complaints and a 44 percent increase in customer retention on an annual basis, compared to multichannel contact centers.

Developing the omnichannel customer experience As the expectations of your customers change, so must the ways you connect and communicate. The level of customer service you are able to provide will depend on it.

You have to do more than simply offer the lines of communications – they all need to work together. The agents responsible for your customer care are also critical to achieving a holistic approach to customer service. But this can be easier said than done.

The companies that have been most successful in implementing a digital-first omnichannel strategy are the ones that have overhauled their agent training to reflect the evolving needs of the customer service industry. New channels require different skill sets.

Agents must be able to balance the demands of real-time customer service with more asynchronous methods of communication, such as text and social messaging apps.

The key is to provide adequate training and provide each agent with the tools they need to succeed in balancing the practicalities of omnichannel customer service. Contact center agents also benefit from the use of one cohesive system.

If agents are operating in different silos, their workflow can be clunky as a result, and therefore, the customer service they provide can be clunky as well. Only when all communications are being funneled through the same platform can you truly provide a digital-first omnichannel customer experience.

The benefits of an omnichannel approach are myriad, but transformative steps are necessary for it to be successfully implemented.

If you are looking to partner with a digital-first omnichannel contact center, trust the one that understands the importance of continuing to evolve.