In today’s world, consumers are faced with almost infinite choices, constantly competing for their attention and spending power. As a result, they are quick to voice their anger or jump ship to a competitor if expectations are not met. Most brands now recognise that providing good customer experience (CX) is imperative to their current and future success. Most have a company-wide strategy in order to govern their approach to providing this experience.
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However, while these strategies are often well-intentioned, too often they are not joined up. For example, taking customer calls might be handled by a contact centre agent while responding to messages on social media may be the responsibility of community managers or the corporate communications team. Even worse, these separate teams acting as individual siloes within an organisation don’t have access to the same information or may hold different information altogether.
Often, this can cause frustration on the part of customers and doesn’t make for the experience that companies are striving for when they undertake these ambitious CX strategies. We’ve all experienced this scenario ourselves, when calling the bank or electricity provider for example turns into an ordeal because customer service agents don’t seem to know what we’re talking about – despite having called up about the issue we’re having numerous times.
‘Omnichannel’ CX has long been regarded as the solution to these issues. Omnichannel seeks to give the customer the best experience possible by gathering context and information across all engagement channels throughout the customer lifecycle. So in an omnichannel experience, the agent can see how many times a particular customer called or engaged with an agent, the details of those conversations, and the customer’s personal information and preferences—and then apply all of that customer information in the moment of a new interaction, seamlessly and proactively.
But until now, questions about the value of omnichannel have remained. It sounds good in practice but does it actually benefit the bottom line?
Analyst firm Forrester Consulting recently published a study commissioned by Genesys which looked to answer this very question. The firm interviewed and collected data from five multinational companies that had implemented an omnichannel customer engagement solution. These companies included an American multinational financial services corporation, a Chinese multinational computer technology company, an African mobile communications company and a large financial conglomerate in South America.
Prior to implementing the omnichannel solution, the companies in the study had all deployed call centre (voice only) or contact centre (limited channel support) technologies — most often using solutions from multiple vendors. In each case, agents had to switch between multiple screens to serve a customer and frequently had little information about the purpose of their call or the customer journey history. These limitations led to long call times during which customers had to provide the same information multiple times and did not receive personalised customer service.
the companies involved in the study would see a ROI of over 150% over 5 years by implementing an omnichannel customer engagement solution
The study found that the companies involved in the study would see a return on investment of over 150% over 5 years by implementing an omnichannel customer engagement solution in response to these issues, with a pay-back time of just over 12 months.
There were areas identified in the study where the solution produced significant productivity and cost gains.
While it may seem like an obvious starting point, getting rid of the various different and dispersed software and hardware elements that make up the existing CX architecture can produce significant cost and productivity savings. Moving to a cloud-based solution removes the need for hardware, while one software license rather than several creates significant economies of scale. IT labour and maintenance costs are also reduced.
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Another key area identified by the study was call time. If an agent doesn’t have the full record of a customer’s previous interactions, he or she will have to spend time repeating themselves and going over their issue once again. With an omnichannel solution, this doesn’t happen and the agent can resolve the problem much more quickly and effectively, giving the customer an outstanding experience. Forrester found that calls were reduced by a full minute – leading to a combined total of saving of almost $20 million over five years.
Web chat is another customer engagement tool which has grown in sophistication in recent years, and is being implemented more and more. One of its main uses is to help customers who are browsing the web that may be in need of assistance or are unsure how to proceed with a transaction. Live agents can recognise these issues, using contextual and background info to assist these customers.
web chat integration has serious benefits for the bottom line
Again, the Forrester study found that web chat integration as part of a wider omnichannel solution has serious benefits for the bottom line. Having agents on hand to help customers online meant a 30% reduction in abandonment and also created more opportunities to cross and upsell. Overall, the study reported that this would lead to a projected revenue increase of $1 million over five years.
Automation is also increasingly being used to provide customers with outstanding CX, and is one of the key aspects of an omnichannel solution. This was also identified as a key area of financial benefit in the study. Automated outreach, chat, self-service, and call back features all allow customer queries to be resolved speedily and efficiently, in a way that suits them. This means that agents can be better deployed, leading to a reduction in headcount and therefore significant cost savings.
While omnichannel has long been regarded as the solution to providing outstanding customer experience to consumers, there hasn’t always been a clear business case and too often the concept has been regarded as a woolly marketing term. Now, in light of the recent Forrester study, there is clear evidence that implementing an omnichannel customer engagement solution not only gives customers the best experience solution possible but also directly benefits the bottom line by providing an ROI of over 150%.