Moving the Contact Centre from Omnichannel to Optichannel: A Report from Our Recent UKCCF Roundtable
In a look at a recent roundtable event we ran with the UK Contact Centre Forum, John Duffy reports on a new idea on the Contact Centre scene: taking the omnichannel idea a step forward into ‘optimum’ (opti) channel. This means reaching the customer where and when they want to be contacted.
In recent blogs we have concentrated on issues around the right way to deploy AI and chatbots in customer outreach.
But in some ways, this discussion begged a question: surely we need to know where we’re introducing chatbots and automation as much as the why?
Our attendees – which included representatives of legal, retail, health and manufacturing brands, as well as CX (Customer Experience) experts from a variety of consulting firms – decided that debate needs to happen, on what service is appropriate for what channel or medium.
A shorthand term for this conversation is where brands decide what the ‘opti (optimum) channel’ is for any technology, be that Web, social, voice or mobile.
Be sensitive to the different modes your customers operate in
But what would ‘optichannel’ look like in real life? For one Support Services Director, the emphasis has to be not on separate channels for separate parts of the target user base – the usual conception of what omnichannel is all about – but different phases of interaction with the same person.
“You want to consume information and use your smartphone in different ways at different parts of your work and social day,” she pointed out.
“So you might look at a site you’ve heard there are some bargains on while on the Tube, and come back to that later, when you have time. Then you might want to call a brand at the weekend when you are shopping for a bigger item, for example.
“The point is to offer flexible ways of interaction to support all those ‘phases’. It isn’t to try and message me five times a day during each of these transitions – that’s just going to annoy me!”
Such sensitive context shifting is crucial, agreed a Senior Consultant at the Forum with experience helping clients deal with trying to manage just such optichannel strategies.
“You need to judge the best use of not just the customer’s openness to things like chatbots, but your own resources,” he urged.
“So clearly it’d be great to automate short information drops at certain parts of their journey when they are likely to be time-poor. You just don’t want to make something like a chatbot the default/only option, as that will hurt you when they have more time and want a richer interaction,” he added. “You can’t sell a holiday by text, but you can probably raise some interest in a sale.”
“Optichannel is a great idea, but all it is, is making communications ‘all about me’ – all about the customer and what she wants,” concluded a Director of Customer Insight.
So optichannel makes sense, our panel agreed – but with real qualifications. “Optichannel can only work if it’s about the optimum action for both you and your customer, not just for you,” warned a Head of Insurance.
Find out more about VoiceSage’s range of range of personalised, proactive Contact Centre technologies,
John Duffy is Enterprise Sales Consultant at VoiceSage