missing-puzzle-pieceAs consumers, we have all experienced a fundamental shift in our relationships with the businesses we frequent.  With the global economy and nearly unrestricted competition, we now have an array of choices on where and how to spend our money.  With the explosion in digital engagement options now available, we are also able to engage with these businesses on our own terms – and at our convenience.  Yet, in spite of all these changes, customer satisfaction has been steadily trending down for the past four years and many companies are struggling to solve the puzzle of how to interact with their customers in an omnichannel fashion.

Businesses can no longer afford to believe in a philosophy that handling customer engagements one interaction at a time is enough to deliver a superior customer experience.  They must manage and orchestrate end-to-end omnichannel customer journeys to both delight their customers and reduce operating costs. In fact, a McKinsey customer experience survey of 27,000 U.S. consumers found that companies that focused on providing a superior, low-effort experience realized positive business results – including a 10-15% increase in revenue and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction.

Most companies handle both inbound and outbound interactions in the contact center. But they continue to struggle with how to incorporate a wide array of new and often disjointed engagement channels across their business. The thought of how to tackle this challenge can be daunting. Before I get carried away with myself, it’s probably worth spending a moment to define what exactly is meant by the term “omnichannel.” After all, we have had no shortage of terms over the years, including cross-channel, multi-channel, and now, omnichannel.  What gives?

In my mind, omnichannel is all about delivering a continuous customer experience across multiple channels.  Often the term is used to mean the ability to carry forward context from one channel to the next so I don’t have to tell the agent my name and account number (again) when I am transferred from the IVR.

Omnichannel journey management takes this idea even further, adding the need to manage the entire journey lifecycle from the design of the intended customer journey, through to the orchestration of interactions, the monitoring of actual journey experiences, and the ongoing tuning and refinement.

To get there means we need to move from the often random journeys that we as customers experience today, bouncing from one channel to another in an attempt to address our problem and need. The opportunity is to deliver a designed journey – one that requires low customer effort and takes into account the customer’s relationship with your company and personal preferences.

So, if your desired goal is to enable consistent, low effort interactions across a variety of channels in your contact center, and like most companies, you are still working to fully integrate new communication channels into your organization and business strategy, what are the steps to take?

Listen to Genesys in our webinar on demand, Omnichannel Contact Center 101 as Janelle Mathews and I share four practical steps you can take to realize an omnichannel contact center. Learn how other companies who have taken these steps have realized measurable business results both in terms of improved CX and reduced costs.