Transforming customer engagement with omnichannel solutions

In today’s business landscape, the importance of delivering exceptional customer experiences cannot be overstated. As technology advances, customers expect more from their service providers when it comes to communication channels, expecting more personally tailored interactions and care, over largely automated systems such as interactive voice response systems. It is frustrating to be fed back answers from a script that are not relevant to the enquiry, especially in time-pressured situations.

At the same time, organisations are increasingly looking to move away from their more costly communication channels, such as call centres, opting for more advanced automated solutions. Chatbots have evolved, particularly with many now enhanced with generative AI, but these solutions still don’t suit every customer or situation. Some customers still prefer and at times require a personal conversation. An effective way to handle this is to retain chatbots and other automated solutions for simple customer queries across channels, but to implement an intelligent escalation system, underpinned by an omnichannel solution. This doesn’t eradicate the telephone option; it just allocates resources more effectively and in a way that does not negatively impact the general customer experience. 

Companies are constantly seeking creative ways to engage with their customers seamlessly across various communication channels. Omnichannel solutions offer a transformative approach that not only caters to diverse customer preferences but also leverages artificial intelligence to enhance the overall customer journey as well as internal processes.

Omnichannel functionality

At their core, omnichannel solutions differ from single-channel or multi-channel solutions, because they offer a coordinated approach. This means that all channels work seamlessly to provide a consistent experience for customers, considering historical interactions and immediate data capture, as opposed to multi-channel solutions, which operate independently from one another, and single-channel solutions that only provide one point of contact for customers. 

Omnichannel solutions are the future of customer service, as they empower customers, allowing them to choose their preferred communication channels and provide a consistent experience for customers across the channels they use. Whether it’s telephone, SMS, WhatsApp, or live chat, the omnichannel approach ensures that all inquiries are managed in a unified manner. 

AI integration in omnichannel solutions

AI plays a pivotal role in optimising the functionality of omnichannel solutions. The integration of omnichannel solutions with platforms like Microsoft 365 and Teams goes beyond external communication. APIs extend the reach of these solutions, enabling communication and collaboration with various external systems, and further enhancing overall efficiency and productivity.

The ability to analyse context enables intelligent routing of calls, ensuring inquiries are directed to the right person with the necessary expertise. Agents can triage and manage cases using the same platform, creating consistency in their workflow. They can be assigned customers based on specific channels, skills, and capacity, further streamlining internal processes. The intelligent routing, facilitated by AI, ensures that each incoming enquiry is directed to the most suitable agent. It fosters seamless collaboration internally, empowering agents to communicate and seek advice from colleagues effortlessly.

Additionally, AI-driven automation extends to script generation or dynamic information provision for agents based on the nature of the conversation. This deeper context and increased personalisation contributes to more efficient and tailored customer interaction. Importantly, the deeper context enabled by the AI-powered solution prevents customers from needing to repeatedly explain their issues by summarising key points, reducing frustration, and enhancing overall efficiency. 

From an agent’s perspective, omnichannel solutions provide a uniform interface, regardless of the communication channel. Agents can therefore focus on providing quality service rather than navigating disparate interfaces and information. 

Data utilisation and analysis

The data generated by omnichannel solutions then becomes a goldmine for organisations seeking to understand customer behaviour and preferences. By tracking customer interactions across all channels, businesses can get a more complete picture of who they are and their unique requirements. This information then helps organisations to fine-tune marketing strategies and improve customer service. AI-driven data analysis helps identify trends and topics, facilitating informed decision-making in the future. Predictive analytics, powered by historical data, aids in demand forecasting, allowing organisations to allocate resources efficiently and optimise their services. Insights derived from data analysis provide valuable information for refining strategies and addressing emerging customer needs in real-time.

AI-powered omnichannel solutions can harness natural language processing and sentiment analysis, adding further layers of sophistication to customer interactions. Sentiment analysis can identify when a customer is distressed by evaluating aspects like tone of voice and the occurrence of certain words. If the sentiment becomes extremely negative, automated triggers can be set up, such as alerting supervisors that a difficult conversation is taking place and assistance, or escalation is necessary. The technology itself can then add the supervisor to the call, making it a three-way conversation where the customer is getting the help they need. 

Despite this increase in data sharing, there are also sophisticated governance and security measures in place. For example, the capability to automatically stop recording when the customer is about to share confidential information or pay for something. 

This is furthered by multi-language capabilities for inbound and outbound chat messages, catering to diverse customer needs, and reflecting a commitment to inclusivity. Live language translation is especially important in areas like healthcare and housing, where being understood is crucial.  The seamless escalation from chat to voice or video calls ensures that customer interactions remain smooth and frustration-free, irrespective of the chosen communication channel.

Ultimately, omnichannel solutions deliver incredible agility when it comes to customer communications and data capture, but organisations must navigate certain challenges during implementation. Customers may be resistant to new technologies or have security concerns, so it’s important to ensure that they understand that their preferred channels are open to them and that their data will be entirely secure. 

In this regard, successful omnichannel customer service requires a strategic approach to integration, and a customer-centric mindset to overcome challenges and deliver a seamless experience across all touchpoints.

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Tristan is responsible for driving new business through thought leadership, providing presales architecture and consultancy to the business, and building new products on Microsoft Cloud. Infinity Group is a leading Microsoft Partner in the UK, on a mission to help organisations do more for less, grow faster and accelerate their digital transformation. With specialist teams across Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Azure, Microsoft 365, and Cyber Security, Infinity Group addresses the challenges that businesses face like productivity, efficiency, cost savings, customer service and scalability. Founded in 2001, with offices in London and Tunbridge Wells, Infinity Group has close to 500 customers across a diverse range of sectors

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