customer journeyThis week at the ICMI Contact Center Demo & Conference in Chicago, I had the opportunity to speak to companies and present to attendees on creating great customer journeys. For those unable to attend, my main takeaway from the conference was that customer journeys are still largely broken and fragmented, and companies are now serious about making customer journeys smoother.  And the way forward?  Go Omnichannel!  

In this new digital age, companies must put in place a seamless and consistent experience across channels versus the separate siloed channels that we all deal with today. Why? Because customers expect a unified continuous conversation across channels.

So, how do you get there? A financial services customer experience leader recently asked me to define omnichannel and this was my suggested definition:

Omnichannel:  A single, effortless, continuous conversation across channels that resolves the customer’s issue, repeated over time to build loyalty…where success can be measured positively in the short run (e.g. SMS survey) and in the long run (e.g. NPS).

Let’s look at an Omnichannel example that may sound like the future of CX, but it’s not:

Imagine a customer – James – is looking on a website for a new TV, while web chatting with an agent for help. James starts to place the order on the website, but stops midway as he decides he needs to “see” the TV first. James then contacts the call center with a question and instead of being asked what language do they speak, the automated IVR response surprisingly says, “Hello James, are you calling about that TV, would you like an expert to help?” The expert agent thanks James for being a loyal customer and mentions how he has a pending purchase online. James explains his situation, and the agent answers all his questions but Jim still wants to see the TV in the store before buying. After the call, James is sent a SMS message with the address to the closest store locations, as well as an MMS message with a QR code for a coupon for free delivery. When James arrives in the store, they know who James is and when he arrives based on the GPS of his mobile device. James is greeted by an in-store expert who knows exactly what he is interested in… the result, James buys. As he leaves the store, the store beacon sends a text message survey and loyalty coupon for his next visit. James tweets his satisfaction and the company thanks him via Twitter.

Now, that’s omnichannel: Seamless and consistent interactions across channels like web, phone, mobile, text, social – even in-store.  The future?  No, this is possible today!

Omnichannel enables a customer conversation where the company knows the customer and they never need to “start over” as they switch to a new channel or conversation.  In a recent webinar with financial services luminary Tower Group, they noted that 80% of banks were actively looking to move in a single customer experience platform direction, but under 5% are able to do it today.  Similarly, in a company roundtable we led at a recent Frost & Sullivan summit, I learned that in the last year major companies DOUBLED their omnichannel efforts – going from talking about it, to doing it.

At the event the ICMI week I met with one of the world’s largest hotel/hospitality companies who recently deployed a cloud-based contact center solution and moved to an omnichannel journey approach. Led by Mary, a super-innovative, high-energy customer experience champion in the company.

Want great customer journeys?  Go omnichannel.  That’s was this week’s takeaway from the ICMI event.

Coming soon, I will be sharing further takeaways for great customer journeys!