Ben English of Aspect Software discusses how omnichannel strategies in contact centres are evolving.
Call centres around the globe experienced some truly remarkable phenomena in 2020. There was a complete shift to remote work, unprecedented demand and tireless efforts of our workforce and administrators who had to juggle innumerable challenges but remained focused and dedicated. This year has also been the year that omnichannel communications and marketing exploded.
Self-service and user-generated touchpoints skyrocketed as users and designers were forced to perform nearly every task from their PC and mobile devices. Tech-savvy people and marketers alike will claim they saw this coming all along; but the truth is that, in most cases, even industries and organizations that were trending ahead of the curve were still unprepared for the jump to the multichannel hyperspace that happened in the Q2 of 2020.
Ordinarily, companies that aren’t prepared for a massive shift in customer preferences, demand, and communications suffer tremendously. If they happen to survive, these companies face an uphill climb and often incur massive technological and administrative debt just to catch up. But 2020 wasn’t an ordinary fiscal year.
In a year where COVID-19 put pressure on call centers around the globe, the stress of multiple factors converging caused unprecedented hold times, a massive volume of inquiries, health related workforce shortages, and technology bottlenecking that spanned across platforms, not just industries.
In short, even if you were ahead of the curve for digital marketing, there were so many failure points in other areas that it often meant very little to your bottom line. That’s the bad news.
Fortunately, Q4 of 2020 has seen remarkable turnaround so far including an uptick in the fiscal health indicators and promising news on the COVID-19 vaccine front. Which brings us to your digital strategy. Having survived the events of this fiscal year are indeed cause to celebrate but also offer incredible insight to your new omnichannel strategy.
Now the good news. If you didn’t have an omnichannel strategy coming into 2020, congratulations. You have one now!
While COVID-19 forced many businesses to rely on unproven proactive customer channels, it also forced the rapid deployment of multichannel outbound; but more importantly, the circumstances forced your customers to use multichannel inbound according to their need and preference and availability.
In other words, your clients showed you exactly how they would be using your channels. These centrally managed, multiple digital channels were designed to be minimally invasive and convenient–ideal for the user preference shift.
Our challenge moving forward is not so much the implementation or strategic rollout of these channels because unintentionally, most companies have already accomplished this.
For the companies that found themselves unprepared or ill-equipped to handle this major shift in dynamic, however, the fallout doesn’t have to be catastrophic. Because multichannel strategies require minimal administrative overhead and can be managed in the cloud, the faster these multichannel strategies can be launched, the better.
By leveraging omnichannel strategies now, these companies can easily catch up and mitigate temporary workforce and cashflow shortages in preparation for the inevitable post-pandemic environment.
Traditional marketing and administration suffered greatly this year and may never return to pre-2020 management methods. We know that call centres that were able to deliver and maintain proactive contact with customers reported major reductions in the number of accounts that become delinquent or closed. We can largely attribute these success stories to the emergence and implementation of digital multichannel strategy.
The new challenge, however, for 2021 and beyond is matching these strategies with cohesive, concise, seamless messaging and interface.