Independent Contact Center Consultants: Bridging Strategy, Technology and Operations Since 2004

Omni-Channel: The “Buzz” and the Beast

Omni-channel is new buzz word to promote “seamless” and “integrated” customer interactions across all modes of contact. It’s not a new concept. For years, it’s what people intended for “multi-channel customer contact.” They just haven’t been able to achieve it. So to make old things new again, the market has a new word.

omni-channel customer contactUnfortunately, changing the terminology doesn’t change the challenges.

Channel ownership and organizational commitment: Multiple channel owners who don’t necessarily have the same goals, and probably don’t report to the same person… until you get to the top. Thus, there’s no real strategy or plan to align the offerings.

Technology integration: Lots of systems, lots of contact management and routing options, separate CRMs for each department, multiple information sources, lack of multi-channel reporting and analytics, etc. It’s compounded by organizational issues, IT’s overbooking, and the inherent challenge of tackling the big stuff.

End-to-end processes: Lots of energy around what happens within the bounds of a single department or channel; not enough focus on what impacts the customer upstream/downstream, where and how hand-offs occur, and what happens on subsequent interactions.

Contact Center distractions: CC leaders have too many problems to solve, many of which are more urgent and less daunting. They want or need to get their act together on the individual channels before tackling the omni-channel challenge.

What does it take to scale the mountain of challenges?

PLANNING: Visible senior management support, representation from all channel stakeholders, common goals and vision

DOING: Oversight of investments and resource allocations across all customer contact channels plus a formal change management process

OPTIMIZING: Ongoing performance management to assess and optimize the customer experience and corporate outcomes… along with the resources to take appropriate action

With a common vision that defines the tools (e.g., routing, reporting, analytics, CRM, KM) and resources to achieve omni-channel operations, you might actually make it happen. But the strategic direction and funding to institute it requires cross-functional collaboration driven from on high. Without that, you’ll continue to add new channels or improve existing ones, but it’s unlikely that you’ll create a “seamless, integrated” environment for your customers.

I’m not a big fan of name changing to generate marketing spin. But if fresh energy and attention leads to progress on this front, I’m all for it.

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