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By Bill Dyer, CTO & Head of Strategy, Alcatel-Lucent Motive
The buzz in customer care these days is about omni-channel experiences. With so many points of contact now available between customers and suppliers, every industry sector is looking for more effective ways to create a single, uniform, cross-channel experience that meets customer expectations. The key to success is integration.
Why is the omni-channel experience important?
Social media, mobile devices, and the anywhere, anytime, and any device capabilities of mobile networks have changed the expectations of connected consumers. With the whole world a few clicks away, today’s consumers research, shop, and connect with suppliers of everything from body soap to telecom services—whenever the need strikes them, wherever they are, and with whichever device is at hand.
This is even truer for millennials, the largest generation of consumers today. Numbering 80 million in the U.S., research shows that 87 percent of this group of consumers have between two and three tech devices at hand, 50 percent are more likely to research a product online, and 43 percent are likely to purchase online.
These consumers want connected experiences that are richer and more integrated. They want services that adapt to them, rather than services to which they must adapt. And they have less tolerance for complicated or unconnected processes that interrupt the flow of their research, purchasing, and support needs.
Interruptions create frustration
But, like most consumers, millennials have tried to complete a task, such as troubleshooting a technical problem, only to be interrupted in the process, either by another task or by a glitch. When they return to complete the process, the session would have expired and they need to start from scratch, or they try calling a 1-800 number and have to repeat all of the information that they have entered online to an agent.
An omni-channel customer experience eliminates this frustrating and repetitive process. It keeps customers connected via a variety of channels and allows them to pick up where they left
With an omni-channel process, consumers no longer have to be restricted to contacting a help desk or support service via a specific channel. They can connect however they want, wherever they are, on any device, and continue a seamless communication process between channels. It’s a game-changing approach that keeps customers connected and can revolutionize customer care and operations.
How to get there from here
To create this single, seamless experience a service delivery platform is needed that can consolidate all support systems and provide visibility and control over all customer touch points. This multi-channel, multi-device, multi-purpose platform should simplify the definition, publication and execution of advanced troubleshooting and management logic across key elements of a service ecosystem, regardless of how a customer connects. And it should be able to track and save customer care information from one session and allow the customer to continue the process with the same information when a connection is re-established via another channel.
Obviously, the platform should support thousands of concurrent interactive customer care and business workflows. This will allow integration and optimization of all processes to best fit business needs.
Enable intelligent care
To truly meet the expectations of the new generation of consumers and keep them engaged, the customer care experience must go beyond reactive support. It should also enable a more intelligent level of care based on advanced analytics. By collecting key data from a customer’s previous connected behaviors, analyzing it, and learning from it, the platform can enable a more personalized level of interaction and care.
For example, when they’re at home most consumers connect to the Internet using a Wi-Fi connection provided by a home gateway. Analytics from these gateways can be collected and stored. Key data could include whether or not the gateway is providing maximum throughput, and if it is dropping the connection. By aggregating and examining this information a customer care team can see if there are any patterns in the way the gateway is behaving. If a specific brand of gateway is found to be having an issue, all gateways from that manufacturer can be rebooted remotely or a firmware upgrade can be pushed to all of those devices at a pre-defined time (i.e., between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.). This proactive action will prevent all consumers with this type of gateway from having problems. It will prevent customer frustration. And it will eliminate thousands of calls to the help desk.
Reduce costs with integration
Ultimately, this type of omni-channel experience must also be cost-effective. With a single, integrated system, the overall cost of providing customer care can be reduced. There are fewer systems to deploy and maintain. Workflow processes can be optimized by eliminating the need to recapture lost information when customers go from one touch point to another. And customer issues can be resolved faster.
Eliminate negative experiences
It only takes one bad experience for a customer to lose loyalty. Given the anywhere, anytime, and any device expectations of connected consumers, industries can’t afford not to consider integrated platforms that enable advanced, proactive customer care.
An omni-channel experience built on an integrated customer care platform streamlines the customer care process. It provides an optimized experience that keeps customers engaged longer. It eliminates the potential for customers to get frustrated. And it reduces the chance they will move their business to competitors.