The case for crafting a personal definition of omnichannel

Ax in the CCTR, part 4: dig into the details with a journey map
9th October 2017
4 things you need to do to make sure you don’t mess omnichannel right up
16th October 2017

Or: if you’re selling industrial equipment you might not need to be on SnapChat FYI.

Remember last week how we were all ‘lol pigeons aren’t a channel guys’? We were obvs joking, but we were kinda trying to make a point that needs to be made repeatedly.

Because there’s this idea that to ‘do omnichannel’ (hands up all of you who honestly hate that word) you have to be super literal about the definition of ‘omni’. To many this equates to voice, email, SMS, chat, Facebook and Twitter – and increasingly worried glances are being thrown in the direction of video.

 

Hold up one hot second there

If you are feeling the pressure to adopt all these channels, relax. You almost certainly don’t need every single one.

Considering the training and operational overhead involved in adding a new channel, this is something you want to think about carefully. So here are a few angles to take when you’re sizing up the beast.

 

What does your customer actually want?

So by the way have you flat-out asked your customers which channels they’d prefer? Related: are you paying attention when they say things like ‘Can I reach you guys over web chat?’

This kinda brings us to a big question: have you spent time crafting (and refining) a set of customer personas?

We actually can’t overstate the importance of this exercise. If you haven’t done this yet, ask yourself why. What do you actually know about your customers? Do you all agree on what you know? Are you just winging it?

As we mentioned in our most recent webinar, knowing your customer is absolutely key to getting omnichannel right.

If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how can you – y’know – actually talk to them?

 

Okay wait. But what do you actually need?

Don’t listen to your heart, Simba. Think strategically now. Instead of just catering to what your customers might or might not be clamouring for, think of how omnichannel can help you get leaner, faster and stronger.

Considering the fact that phone is the most expensive channel to run, if your call volumes are smash-high (which they usually are) you’ll want to start thinking about how you can shift the weight to channels capable of bearing more load.  Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that by the time people are calling in they’re probably already exasperated.

Take web chat as a great alternative – people don’t mind waiting nearly as much because they can get on with their bizz in the meantime. It also involves less cognitive load because it doesn’t demand the same attention. And hey plus, you get to save big on supporting a much more efficient channel.

(Just don’t, as we’ve seen some people do, simply shuttle people to phone through your chat channel. What the actual why guys.)

You might also want to take the time to improve your self-service options so that your customers don’t even need to get in touch. We reckon the best measure of a successful support desk is a lack of interactions. (Well sorta. You get the drift.)

 

Also: who are you really?

To thine own self be true and all that. More to the point, to thine own brand be true.

To do that it really, really helps to know what your brand is all about. Now this can seem like a no-brainer, but it absolutely isn't. Because the bare fact of the matter is, a huge number of companies know total diddly about their what, how and why, never mind their core values and strategic differentiators.

Look, okay, maybe the founder–CEO has an idea or something. But a CEO is not a company. A company is its people, and people need to be on the same page before they can turn to the next page.

A thorough breakdown of how to figure this all out collectively is beyond the scope of this article, but we'll be taking a deep tour of it after our Ax series.

 

Now: what is your customer’s journey?

Now that you know what your customer wants, what you're about, and what you have to balance in the mix, take a good long look at the world of experience and journey mapping.

Start by getting a clear image of what your customers actually go through in their dealings with you, step by step. Find the points of friction and frustration, then reimagine the journey the way it should be.

If you’ve been following our agent experience series, you’ll find that the workshopping techniques we lay out are perfectly transferable.

We also heartily recommend Adaptive Path’s breakdown of the process. Adaptive Path are the business.

 

Bonus 1: what does the research say?

We’re lucky in the contact centre industry – we’ve got research up the wazoo to draw on. You are keeping abreast of the latest trend reports, white papers and analyses, right?

Because as rundowns go, these little gold mines of interpreted data are an excellent place to dig around. There are loads and loads of documented best practices out there.

BUT. Bear in mind that the data paints a big picture – and like any picture, if you zoom down to the bare pixels you’ll find a lot of difference between one and the next.

What we’re trying to say is this: don’t follow data blindly. Especially don’t follow other people’s interpretations of data blindly. Rather, use what you learn as the starting point to your own journey.

Treat your company like the unique snowflake it is. (Whoa that sounded sarcastic but we mean it.)

 

Bonus 2: what does marketing say?

Do look outside your usual information havens when you’re trying to figure your omni out.

For example, we really love BuzzSumo. You can put any topic on this little beastie and it’ll show you the most-shared web pages related to that topic, broken down by social media platform.

This is a marketing tool, but since social media channels are, well, channels, this is a super good way to figure out where your customers hang out.

As with the research point we made earlier, take your findings with a pinch of salt, but do take a look.

 

Finally! Have you considered phoning a friend?

Listen. If this is giving you a headache, give us a shout. We’ll help you figure it out, no strings. You don’t even have to use our software or anything.

Why? Because we care about moving this industry into a beautiful place.

So let’s talk. (You can reach Rogan Louwrens, the writer of this piece, at rogan@zailab.com.)