Fotolia_94341941_Subscription_Monthly_MCreating and sustaining customer relationships across assisted and self-service customer service has become a necessity. But as customers interact with businesses on multiple communication channels—IVR, web chat, social media, and more—customer journeys can begin and end anywhere. It’s up to IT to provide an enterprise architecture that enables the business to manage these channels in a way that’s customer friendly. That is, managing exceptional experiences so they are seamless, proactive, and personalized across all channels and touchpoints throughout an entire lifecycle. This is the essence of omnichannel customer engagement.

Contact center solutions have evolved in parallel to become customer experience platforms. They support the vast number of channels, intelligence, and analytics necessary to orchestrate optimal service experiences.

Even so, there’s misinformation and myths about omnichannel, rising in part from a lack of understanding about key requirements from an architecture or IT perspective. What does it mean to successfully define and implement this type of transformative program? And how does it tie to business results?

It Begins with a Problem

PayPal, the online payments system, couldn’t scale to keep pace with its global growth and customer expectations. Long queuing forced multiple transfers for customers and long hold times. These global inefficiencies frustrated employees and customers. PayPal needed a transformation.

The company responded by implementing a customer engagement platform that gave it:

  • More insights for accurate forecasting and workload distribution;
  • Consistent improvement in NPS scores—with an increase of 30 points in some markets;
  • Help in reducing employee attrition by about 33%.

The experience of PayPal—as well as many others—closely maps to a Genesys commissioned, Forrester Total Economic Impact ™ (TEI) study that quantified specific costs and benefits of the Genesys omnichannel engagement approach. These include an average reduction of $20 million in infrastructure costs, and 12.5% improvement in agent handle times.

This ability to serve customers through every channel, including carrying forward context as the customer moves from one channel to another, is transformative. It’s the difference between providing average customer service and engaging with customers to optimize the customer experience and drive real business results.

See PayPal’s story of meeting rapid growth with Genesys:

What Stands in the Way?

Blame it on Frankenstein. Although most businesses today have multi-channel contact centers, less than 25% have fully integrated their current channels, according to the 2016 Dimension Data Contact Center Benchmarking Report. Even fewer run a scalable platform to add digital channels or support increasing interactions with mobile devices.

Without a customer experience platform—integration that delivers that seamless customer experience across all channels—you’re running a Frankenstein-like creation of siloed systems patched together. They may work, but not well enough for modern business demands. This outdated approach hinders IT from making best practices improvements. It also prevents businesses from obtaining analytics to enable data-driven business decisions.

It’s the role of IT to deliver business functionality and build a strong architecture foundation to support it. But internal stakeholders need to know what this transformation entails. They need to be confident that they can successfully deliver a customer engagement strategy. Without this perspective, IT becomes one of the obstacles to progress.

Understanding the Technical Criteria

An omnichannel engagement strategy requires a technical foundation that meets certain criteria. Genesys Reference Architecture Blueprints help you navigate by providing a framework to deploy a proven architecture and design patterns that support standard use cases. Let’s look at a few of these and how they tie to business results:

  • SIP voice: One of the fundamentals of true omnichannel is routing voice interactions to agents and agent desktops. It includes media services with support for announcements, qualification, and parking, plus voice communications with phone features and dial plans. Because this modern infrastructure is software-based, it greatly increases operational agility and reduces operating costs.
  • Digital channels: A single application stack enables you to proactively engage with customers on any channel. You can monitor and identify interactions consistently and efficiently, including live chat and email with text analysis, plus route social media comments to optimal agents. Mobile engagement and callback lets customers request customer service on their terms from mobile phones or other devices—directly impacting customer experience.
  • Workload management: Seamless means capturing tasks from a broad range of enterprise work sources, such as workflow systems, order management systems, and CRM systems. It also requires calculating SLAs by classifying tasks and prioritizing them. Finding the best resource to handle a task is automated—whether in the front office, back office, outsourcer, or at a branch. Finally, real-time dashboards and historical reporting on back-office workloads tie together all data for decision makers to use.

Is Your Infrastructure Ready?

Once you understand the business value of an omnichannel engagement strategy and the technical requirements to get there, take a look at your organization’s current state of readiness. This step takes only a few minutes.

Genesys worked with Forrester Research to develop a complimentary Omnichannel Customer Experience Assessment, which benchmarks your readiness and provides recommendations on where to focus your efforts. Armed with this data, you’ll see how the right platform choice lays the foundation for an omnichannel engagement strategy, and what business stakeholders need to know as you move forward.

For more details, view our on-demand webinar Benchmark Your Omnichannel Customer Service Readiness.

Stefan Captijn

Stefan Captijn

Stefan is Senior Director Strategic Marketing at Genesys. Stefan joined Genesys in April 2000, lives in the Amsterdam area with his wife and two children. In his free time, Stefan enjoys building loudspeakers, cycling and running.