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GUEST COMMENT What’s the value of an omnichannel engagement solution?

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For retailers, the world is becoming more challenging and complex by the day. Customers are less loyal, highly informed about prices and products thanks to ubiquitous smartphones and mobile internet, and are more likely to complain about a brand if they are dissatisfied.

As a result, rather than differentiating themselves through product specification or price, many brands are instead pivoting towards a focus on providing their customers with an outstanding overall experience. This doesn’t just mean on the one occasion when a customer makes a purchase but a joined up, end to end experience that starts when a customer makes contact with a brand and that continues every time thereafter.

As this focus on providing an outstanding journey becomes increasingly important, brands are enabling customers to get in touch however they want, whenever they want, across a multitude of touchpoints. This means traditional methods like via a call centre telephone but increasingly also means via webchat, email, various social media channels and video chat.

While this focus on responding to client demand is commendable, many brands find it increasingly difficult to manage these disparate and wide-ranging engagement channels in a consistent and integrated manner. Rather than enabling the kind of outstanding experience that customers are looking for, the effect of managing these channels in a siloed way is frustration and irritation on the part of the customer. Having to repeat a query numerous times or being transferred between different departments is not ideal.

This kind of experience not only damages a brand’s reputation but can also lead to lost custom and revenue.

The answer to this issue is to employ an omnichannel engagement solution. Omnichannel systems enable the integration of a wide range of customer engagment channels into one overrarching system, allowing brands to provide the crisp and seamless experience that customers crave.

However, by its very nature customer experience can be a tricky concept to grasp, and even more difficult to measure. Offering customers a seamless experience sounds great in practice but does it actually lead to increased revenue and profit, especially when capital outlay is required in order to be able to achieve it?

Forrester Consulting recently carried out a study, commissioned by Genesys, to answer the question of whether deploying an omnichannel customer engagement solution actually offers commercial benefits. The results were conclusive. Organisations that implemented an omnichannel enagagement solution (where they previously only had call centre or contact centre technology with limited channel support across different vendors) enjoyed a projected return of investment of 158% over five years.

The pre-existing systems that these companies used had fundamental flaws that prevented them from offering outstanding service. For example, agents needed to switch between multiple screens during customer interactions, and often had insufficient information about the customers.

The implementation of omichannel solutions changed all that. For example, the study found that the companies that took part in the study would save about $20m over five years combined – in call length reduction alone. The research also found that the workforce management features of an omnichannel solution enabled agents to be deployed more efficiently – rather than dealing with blockages and internal ineffieciencies which could be dealt with by automated systems, human agents were redeployed to deal with more urgent or critical queries.

Forrester Consulting also found that websites saw a significant reduction in basket abandonment. Better webchat interaction that allowed agents to interact with customers while shopping online lead to a 30% reduction in basket abandonment, resulting in a projected revenue increase of $1m over five years alone.

Retailers and brands of all kinds are increasingly recognizing the benefit of implementing omnichannel engagement solutions. Widely-respected high street brand M&S recently underwent one of its largest ever IT projects when it adopted an omnichannel engagement centre solution. This digital transformation has enabled improved customer experience and has created significant cost savings and increased revenue.

The benefits of an omnichannel solution go beyond just customer experience. The cloud-hosted nature of the omnichannel systems also means that they offer low capex costs. Furthermore, IT managers no longer have to deal with complex IT infrastructure issues, free instead to focus on making sure core business applications are running smoothly.

The commercial benefit of implementing an omnichannel engagement solution hasn’t always been clear. However, the Forrester Consulting study leaves little doubt that – with a return of investment of 158%, – taking an omnichannel approach to customer engagement offers significant benefits to the bottom line.

Neil Titcomb is commercial director UK & Ireland at Genesys

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