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The Omnichannel Contact Center: What You Need to Know

This article was updated on December 23, 2022

Omnichannel contact centers ensure your customers can always get in touch with you wherever their busy lives take them and whatever devices they happen to have with them at the time. But this sort of enhancement doesn't occur without expert guidance. Let's look at omnichannel contact centers and the value they provide to businesses, their stakeholders, and — most of all — their perpetually connected customers.

Illustration of a hand holding a cell phone, On the screen is a contact center agent; surrounding the screen are icons representing texting, video, and voice capabilities.

What Is an Omnichannel Contact Center?

An omnichannel contact center allows customers to reach out from any device or communication service they want, without the business losing track of who they're talking to on the other end.

Several omnichannel statistics back up the importance of this practice. For one thing, the average North American will use over 13 devices in 2023. But the basic idea is simple: Customers expect a fluid experience across all of their devices, even in their support and sales interactions. An omnichannel contact center supports this expectation.

How Do Omnichannel Contact Centers Work?

"Omni," meaning "all," is the key to realizing what these contact centers are capable of. Think about your smartphone as just one example: There are a lot of ways to communicate on it — SMS, email, internet browsers, apps, chats, social media, and, of course, making a traditional call. An omnichannel contact center coordinates as many of these avenues as it can with a singular set of agents fielding the calls, pings, texts, and emails.

A customer might email, send your company a Facebook message, send the chatbot on your website a quick message via their phone's web browser, or do something else entirely. With an omnichannel contact center, you're making sure you can always get the message and always match the customer on the other end with the right account.

How Is This Different From Multichannel Contact Centers?

Multichannel contact centers do manage multiple channels, but they do so individually. For instance, a customer service division may have agents to answer emails, agents to engage in chats, and agents to handle phone calls. By contrast, an omnichannel contact center empowers your agents to wear all of those hats at once, fluidly communicating with your customers wherever they choose to have the conversation.

What Features Do You Need From an Omnichannel Contact Center?

Every solution you explore will offer different feature sets and overall capabilities. One of your most important jobs as a business looking to upgrade is understanding exactly what's available to you and how it fits with your business model. Here are a few examples of key capabilities to be on the lookout for:

Smart Inbound Routing

In our Global Customer Engagement Report, omnichannel statistics show customers get tripped up by the communications problems found at some companies. They're also not too pleased with carryovers from the days of highly regimented service systems, such as long wait times and difficulty finding the right person to answer the question.

Smarter inbound routing tools, specifically ones powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that integrate directly with your omnichannel contact center, can help solve these issues. By building them into your communications stack from the start, you give your business the best chance to get off on the right foot with customers engaged in an omnichannel life.

Integrated Customer Engagement History and Other Data

Today's omnichannel contact centers provide businesses and their customers with a turnkey every-channel experience. That includes integration with popular customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce. More specifically, you want a solution that captures vital customer data and lets you share relevant aspects of it across the company.

As noted, AI integration can provide an advanced level of utility with this. Having a built-in tool that turns speech to text, analyzes conversations for sentiment, and automatically links contacts to cases — plus links all of this data to the right account every time — can shave several minutes off interaction times and let your agents focus on taking care of people with the right data at hand. And that's on top of the intelligent routing capabilities mentioned previously.

Cloud-Based Administration and Iterative Improvements

In the old days of communications technology, adding "simple" features required technicians to go to sites and install hardware. Today, it's much more seamless for the business and the customer. Because many platforms now run everything over the cloud, upscaling the operation, adding whole new communication channels, and integrating with new tools as they come along are significantly easier to manage.

This is increasingly important in the world of communication, where customer whims can change both quickly and permanently. When buyers move to the next big communications platform, a cloud-based omnichannel contact center solution ensures you can quickly meet them there.

What Are the Benefits of an Omnichannel Contact Center?

Businesses and their customers stand to gain a lot of value with omnichannel solutions in place in the contact center. Here are three common examples:

Continual Conversations With Customers

When a customer starts a conversation with a chatbot or person through a website or an app, there's a chance they will need to switch channels at some point. Terminating the conversation and starting from scratch later can be frustrating. A busy customer would much rather use a different channel that's more convenient during their next move.

In turn, that reflects one of the most important aspects of omnichannel customer communication. When the customer continues the conversation five minutes or five days later, they aren't being moved to a different department by virtue of changing channels — and all the pertinent data is in just the right place for the rep they get in contact with.

Quick Response to Reputation Threats

Omnichannel also gives your business more control and flexibility as it scans social media for conversations about the company, its products, and its services. Social media sentiment analysis can determine which posts express a particularly high level of frustration and prioritize them for a quick resolution. Likewise, the capability can route a request to a specific representative with precisely the right experience to resolve the problem right away.

And, crucially, it gives that representative a wealth of data about that customer's past interactions with the business. This ultimately helps your teams provide the effective, personalized service that customers have come to expect — even if the interaction starts out negative.

Whole-Business and All-Customer Alignment

Customers aren't the only ones who benefit from an omnichannel contact center solution. It's also an increasingly beneficial presence for line-level service reps, their managers, and the executives overseeing it all.

For representatives: Customer service agents get a fuller view of the customer's entire history with the company. This crucial context may include anything from order history to the sentiment the customer displayed on their last several calls and can provide the agent with all the on-the-fly data they need to make the right decision immediately.

For managers, executives, and high-level stakeholders: Managers may need to review individual call transcripts or review performance by segment or block of time. Likewise, executives routinely need a big-picture view so they can make strategic decisions. An AI-enabled omnichannel contact center enables both, providing relevant performance and interaction metrics to the right eyes.

What Are Some Strategies You Can Use With an Omnichannel Contact Center?

Once you've got your omnichannel contact center in place, you can use it to:

  • Truly understand your customers and their friction points. This will help you devise ways to overcome problem areas and fully earn customers' trust.

  • Streamline areas of your experience. Talking with customers and third-party partners can give you a high-level view of what you're doing right and what could stand for some improvement.

  • Determine the channels to be in now, and in the near future. Understanding this can help you realize the full stack of solutions you'll need to get to where you want to be.

We recommend checking out the full guide for an even more in-depth look at implementing omnichannel strategies.

How to Get Started With an Omnichannel Contact Center

Vonage offers omnichannel contact center solutions that integrate with the tools your business relies on and provides AI-backed insight into your customer communications.

Get in touch with the Vonage team today and learn about how easy it is to get started with an omnichannel contact center of your own.

By Ryan Yee B2B Marketing Copywriter

Ryan Yee is a long-time copywriter with B2C and B2B experience across agriculture, biotech, finance, healthcare, technology, and more. He still fondly remembers (?) the papercuts from proofing film and sleep deprivation from late-night press checks. He’s a San Francisco native with love for his nieces and nephews, hometown Giants, and anything even remotely associated with food (utensils optional).


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