The opti-channel era is dawning! This is why contact centre operators should care
By Gert Swart, Group Chief Technology Officer of Connect.
Delivering a true omnichannel customer experience is no longer a market differentiator in the highly-competitive contact centre and customer service sector, because modern consumers already expect a seamless customer experience and the convenience of communicating with agents via their preferred channel as the minimum acceptable standard.
As such, customer engagement approaches need to evolve into the opti-channel realm by building on the omnichannel principles of seamless engagement across voice and digital channels, emphasising personalisation, context, relevance and channel optimisation.
Opti-channel engagement is about communicating with customers through their preferred channels, whether that's e-mail, social media, SMS, in-app notifications, voice, WhatsApp or others. It focuses on delivering individualised, personalised, contextually-relevant interactions for each customer. The goal is to optimise the customer experience by meeting them where they are most comfortable and receptive.
Three macro influences are driving this change in behaviour:
- The digital transformation of all businesses.
- The change to the "direct-to-consumer" trend.
- The urgent need to protect consumer privacy.
These influencing factors transcend geographies and vertical industries. As such, every company must adopt customer engagement strategies that empower them to respond to customer needs in real-time on the most appropriate channel.
Unleashing the full potential of an opti-channel strategy requires an amalgamation of information from diverse systems.
Enabling these capabilities to keep customer engagements relevant and customer preferences up to date requires first-party, third-party and zero-party data:
- Third-party cookies: These are created by websites other than the those a user currently visits. For instance, when browsing a site that has a Facebook ‘like’ button, Facebook might place a cookie on your device. These cookies are often used for tracking users across different websites, retargeting advertising and behavioural profiling.
- First-party data: Data that organisations collect directly from their audience, including customers, site visitors and social media followers, among others. It can be from actions, behaviours or interests demonstrated across a website or app, or data housed in customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
- Zero-party data: Data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a company. It can include purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognise them. This information is typically collected through direct interactions and engagements such as polls, quizzes and registration forms.
Ideally, the information that shapes opti-channel engagement should shift from third-party cookies to first-party and zero-party data to incorporate a rich blend of multiple data sources that encompasses existing data from CRM systems, contextual details about the customer, their specific communication preferences, insights into their past behaviours and sentiment, customer experience (CX) metrics, as well as customer satisfaction scores.
The ability to analyse this amalgamated data set paves the way for a data-driven customer engagement strategy and not only initiates seamless customer interactions but also effectively addresses their queries or complaints. Doing so, while always communicating through the customer's channel of choice, ensures fluidity, boosts effectiveness and fosters improved customer satisfaction.
The system can also leverage these insights to generate rules that automate interactions to optimise digital engagements to better service the customer or generate suggested messages that agents can use based on individual customer preferences and requirements.
These data-driven insights and actions ensure a contact centre agent can deliver uniform feedback across multiple channels to improve CX, reduce tickets or continue a conversation with the same tone and messaging at the right time and on the right channel, regardless of the medium on which the initial engagement took place.
Optimising engagement with these insights can also determine whether a customer prefers communicating with a bot or an agent for initial inbound interactions to meet evolving preferences in the digital era and improve service levels, which ultimately enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Moreover, opti-channel strategies emphasise ongoing analysis and channel performance optimisation to continually enhance CX and service delivery. By monitoring customer preferences and feedback, organisations can refine their omnichannel strategies, adding or removing channels as needed and ensuring the channels offered remain the most effective and relevant based on evolving customer expectations.
Connect are the independent communications experts who can transform how your organisation communicates – both internally and externally. We deliver solutions and services that join up employee and customer communications across platforms, across sites and across countries, in two core areas, Contact Centre Solutions and Network Services. We provide simple, elegant solutions to the most complex problems. Visit our website: weconnect.tech