Omni-channel the next customer frontier

The focus is now on delivering fully integrated touch points and interaction, says N'Lighten.

Read time 2min 10sec

Omni-channel customer service is emerging as the next big focus area globally, as enterprises look to address customer service from an outside-in perspective.

This is according to customer service expert Nathalie Schooling, founder and MD of N'Lighten. Schooling says surveys by her research partners, and insights from recent global customer experience forums, indicate that omni-channel service is an area of key interest now.

"We were talking about multi-channel until recently, but the focus is now on delivering fully integrated touch points and interaction. There are myriad more ways customers want to connect, and all channels need to 'sing from the same hymn sheet', delivering convenience at every level," she says. "Omni-channel refers to unified and integrated customer-centric experiences. In other words, simultaneously leveraging customer touch points - mobile, social, kiosks, stores, etc - to create a seamless experience."

Schooling says delivering omni-channel excellence will require innovative thinking and technologies. South Africa, typically two to three years behind the US and Europe in terms of innovation and experience, should start preparing to meet the demand for omni-channel service now, she says.

"This omni-channel experience extends beyond interaction with customers," Schooling notes. "It might be an innovation such as a patient using his phone to scan the bar code on his medicine bottle to automatically renew a prescription and have it delivered to his door. Or it may be the automatic linking to useful information to a guest on confirmation of booking a hotel room.

"It is about offering convenience across channels - integrating marketing, useful information, transactional capability and innovative services."

To deliver these new levels of customer experience, businesses need new levels of proactivity and ongoing innovation. Organisations that have multi-segment channel products should seriously consider using "customer journey mapping" as a tool to redesign the customer's current experience.

"Companies tend to look inside-out at a customer's world. With a journey map, they can look at the customer's experience, pain points and moment of truth, and from there they can design new and innovative experiences that will set them apart from their competitors."

Schooling will address the upcoming Interactive Intelligence Optimise the Customer Experience Executive Forum, taking place in Johannesburg on 25 July, and in Cape Town on 19 September. For more information about this event, click here.

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