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Wednesday, 17 February 2016 13:18

Omni-channel contact is a paradigm shift


In the past if you had a problem with a purchase you rang the company’s call centre, dumped on a hapless customer service agent (CSA), and sorted it out. But that behaviour is so yesterday.

According to Merijn te Booij, ‘Chief Product Geek’ for Genesys. Customers want to be able to use any channel – omni-channel – to contact a company. Voice has become the secondary entry point and success is now based on the customer using the least possible effort to gain the best possible outcome.

They demand equal quality customer experiences (CX) regardless of the channel they choose and prefer to buy from companies with an omni-channel CX.

Booijn’s actual title is Executive Vice President, Product and Solution strategy, and very few people have had as broad an experience in what is called in old-speak, CTI (computer telephony integration) as he. As the name may indicate is ‘fairly Dutch’ and lives in San Francisco. He joined Genesys in 2000 having come from managing contact centre operations for the Dutch Automobile Association in Holland.

He holds master's degree in international law from the Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands – not a geeky background at all. At Genesys he progressed from a sales consultant for its Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, to vice president of professional services where he created and lead the Genesys Business Consulting practice. Now he just wants to be a geek.

As an IT journalist I have been hearing more and more about omni-channel – it is the latest buzz word being used by the finance industry in particular. Originally termed multi-channel – because the call centre was being opened up allowing customer communication by email, text, fax, as well as voice – it has gone well past that.

Booij says omni-channel is a better term because a customer does not care which channel they use as long as it is convenient to them and they get the same CX on each. Omni-channel is a way to view the process from the customer’s perspective – the outside in, a customer centric model.

He also calls it the ‘one journey’ as it can often span many channels – the initial contact may be via a tweet, then moved offline to voice where a CSA can fix the issue, then may be followed up by a tweet to protect the company’s reputation.

All the customer wants from the one journey is a quality CX on all channels and most importantly they do not want to have to repeat their details and problems to a plethora of CSAs across those channels during the one journey.

Read on for the remainder of the interview which it paraphrased to avoid the overuse of ‘Booij said’.

Where is omni-channel at in terms of enterprise acceptance?

There are a lot of ‘first concepts’ out there especially in the finance sector where service becomes a differentiator. Growth areas like online banking and ecommerce are rapidly implementing omni-channel as it has become a customer expectation here.

It is important to note that a good CRM system must underpin this model but that is purely a system of record - measuring how long it takes to answer a call or respond to an email does not mean as much as measuring the customer experience – the outcome.

How do you measure performance – outcomes and CX - across omni-channel?

With telephone calls you can measure delays, queue lengths, and more to try to achieve service levels like ‘80% calls answered in 20 seconds’. You can gather similar statistics for any omni-channel – how fast an email was answered, time to respond to social media, most if not all the metrics that apply to voice. But these metrics do not necessarily correlate with customer outcomes. You can have great metrics and lousy Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

In the digital domain you can do so much more. For example, using text analytics you can measure sentiment analysis in real time in real time. Using social media, you can understand if the tweeter is a frequent user, their demographic, if they are a real buyer, and much more and modify the response.

It’s the journey – Genesys calls that cross-touchpoints. A text from the customer to the CSA may initiate a call back from the CSA, then a transfer to web to complete a self-service form, then the customer/CSA instigates a video/audio chat, and so on. Omni-channel is about moving from one appropriate (or inappropriate channel in the case of a public tweet, Facebook or Linked in post) channel to the next. In omni-channel the CSA must know more about the caller than ever before and that information must follow the journey throughout the process.

Genesys is the system of engagement – not just a system of record.

Tell me how Genesys has evolved to be the system engagement?

The traditional contact centre will have to rapidly evolve to become centres of customer engagement – the contact centre, web, mobile, social, marketing, sales, front office and back office – are all combining into a single customer engagement hub. This hub spans multiple – and previously siloed – touchpoints, to manage the end-to-end multichannel customer journey.

In simple terms this is a move from voice based PBX automatic call distribution systems to computers and IP – a digital call centre and staff equipped to handle a broader range of services. It is important to note in this change that Genesys is purely about software and its independent of all underlying call centre systems such as those from Cisco, Avaya, or Skype for Business – or even the CRM systems. It runs on standard x86 server on premise or in the cloud.

Genesys provides everything you need to create a great CX. It creates a powerful, virtualised customer engagement environment to route any customer interaction across departments, teams, and locations. This is underpinned through Continuous Workforce Optimisation, including planning, scheduling, and managing people across the company.

Multi-channel touchpoints have greatly complicated the end-to-end customer journey. The Genesys Customer Experience Platform is unique in its ability to ensure consistent omni-channel customer experiences at every digital touchpoint and channel. The platform preserves context and history across interactions, smoothing out the conversation as customer’s transition between channels. Genesys supports multiple digital channels, including web (email, forms, chat, WebRTC, social media) and mobile (SMS/MMS messaging, self-service, apps) to deliver the consistent experiences regardless of the channels.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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