Optichannel: which tools and technologies?

How do you go from ‘all the channels all the time’ to ‘right channel, right time’? In the final post of a three-part series, we look at the technologies and business models you need to make optichannel a reality.

Customers have multiple options for ‘talking’ to businesses: voice, SMS, messaging app, live virtual chat, email, social. They have embraced them all.

So have businesses. You know your customers want the freedom to choose the channel that matches their exact needs.

Where is the nearest store? Check the web site.

Need to re-arrange an appointment? Send a text.

Car is on fire? Make a call.

And so, over the last 10 years, businesses and customers have moved into the ‘omnichannel’ era. Voice is no longer enough. This is why the old-fashioned call centre has been reinvented as the contact centre.

However, this era of choice presents a new challenge. It risks bewildering the customer. It hands them the task of finding the right channel to solve their particular problem.

And so we have arrived at the age of the optimal channel or ‘optichannel’. Here, the business anticipates which channel works best for a particular activity, and then configures their customer journeys accordingly. Instead of merely offering more channels, optichannel guides people to the right one.

In two previous articles, we have explored the benefits of the optichannel approach. We have also shown how you can use analytics to map your ideal customer journeys.

That leaves one final question: which are the best tools and technologies to deliver optichannel customer service?

At Formation, we specialise in helping mid-sized companies like yours to unify your internal communications and build great contact centres.

We work mostly with Avaya products such as Avaya Contact Center Select. It supports a wide range of phones, and uses SIP and CTI interfaces to communicate with the IP Office platform.

Avaya CC Select is designed with small to midsize companies in mind. It provides access to features that were previously available only to the enterprise:  skill-based routing, call treatments, reporting, unified agent management and more.

Crucially, it also supports optichannel contact channels such as voice, email, outbound, Web communications (Web chat), SMS, and even fax messages and scanned documents.

Of course, these features are only as good as their implementation. That’s why we advise all our customers to think about what they are trying to achieve when they design their call flows. For example, develop five to ten top objectives, and review them every six months.

While the contact centre product will be at the heart of your optichannel strategy, there are other tools you can use to enhance it.

One we recommend is the workforce management product, Teleopti. This will help you to get the most from your customer agents – and make their lives easier too. Teleopti has easy to use dashboards for organising work schedules and forecasting demand. It even has gamification features to encourage team members to engage.

And what’s the best model for delivering optichannel customer journeys? We believe strongly in  cloud and hybrid business models.

Obviously there are commercial benefits here. You pay a fixed knowable monthly fee rather than a large upfront equipment cost. You can have a setup configured to your needs. And you will benefit from constant upgrades to the latest technologies.

But there are other more subtle advantages that relate directly to the optichannel contact centre idea.

When you move your comms to the cloud, you can unify all the different communications options much more easily than with ‘on prem’ hardware’. You can configure the system itself to manage all the different channels – from voice to text to live chat – and make the customer journey far more intuitive.

For example, let’s say a person wants to query a booking. She asks a question on a live web chat. The system recognises the customer, interrogates her record and alerts the right representative, who then makes a call to resolve the issue

This not only speeds and improves the journey for the customer, it also gives the enterprise the opportunity to re-think its approach to contact centre.

Think about it. If the system can route calls (or emails or texts) to the right person and disclose all relevant information, the agents can be anywhere.

In short, the contact centre no longer needs to be at a physical location.

This is the key to a smarter workplace – an environment in which employees work more flexibly, and interact with customers more intuitively.

Why not get in touch today to find out how you can move your business into the optichanel era.

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