omnichannel customer experienceAs a professional services consultant working with companies everyday, I am seeing a revolution taking place in customer service right before my eyes. Companies are tossing out their multichannel strategies and related solutions. This is more than a little surprising.  How can this be? We’ve been talking about multichannel for years. The pundits said: “Offer all channels. Offer customers their channel of choice.”

Organizations seeking to improve customer engagement followed this advice and did exactly what they thought was right. In addition to providing voice service, they implemented new channels for customer engagement, including email, social, mobile, web chat, and call-back. Now, many, if not all of these solutions, are being tossed on the garbage heap of obsolete technologies.

So, what happened?

Why multichannel is on its deathbed

For years, companies implemented a so called best-of-breed philosophy for implementing solutions for new channels…one provider for chat, another for email, another for voice, another for mobile, and so on. All of these solutions usually worked just fine. But, there was one tiny problem. None of these solutions talked to each other. In fact, they created silos inside the company, which ultimately resulted in frustrating experiences for customers.

Over time, customer information silos began to spring up everywhere with data silos for reporting and customer history. The resulting lack of visibility and availability of customer history across channels was turning out to be the primary problem creating consumer anguish.

At the same time, usability and application problems also became the new norm for agents, who were either trapped in a channel silo or were told to switch to another channel en mass on command from a supervisor. Yes, this really happens. Of course, this caused huge headaches for supervisors who were charged with managing and assigning resources to all these multichannel silos. It became a nightmare to manage agents and not much really improved for customers either. Had contact centers actually taken a step back?

If a customer could get an answer and their problem solved in a single interaction, multichannel would work just fine. However, most customer issues require all types of communication, including repeated emails, phone calls and even web chats. If you’ve ever read one of my favorite columns in the New York Times, The Haggler, which is dedicated to solving ‘aggrieved consumer’ issues, you will see that even the most mundane issues can take dozens of emails and phone calls to resolve (read the story about the monk and the airline).

What is omnichannel and why are companies implementing it ASAP?

It turns out, the omnichannel customer experience is what companies (and customers) wanted all along, but the end result could not be accomplished with siloed channels and departments.  Omnichannel provides a seamless, consistent and personalized customer experience, with all channels, touchpoints and resources across the company working together – across the customer journey.

If you’d like to learn more about delivering an omnichannel customer experience, check out this Forrester research report titled, Manage the Cross-Touchpoint Customer Journey. You can get it here!

To see how a single, integrated platform can help you overcome the multichannel challenge to deliver true omnichannel interactions, check out the Genesys Customer Experience Platform today!

Dudley Larus

I'm passionate about improving the customer experience Dudley Larus is a senior principal consultant in the Genesys Professional Services organization working with customers on their cx projects as a business analyst. Previously, he was part of the Genesys Product Marketing...