November 20, 2018 by Siobhan Climer
Nostalgia-inclined folks might reminiscence about a time in history when general stores’ owners greeted customers by name as they walked in the door. Perhaps they had the customer’s order already set to go. Certainly, businesses today try to recreate that personalized customer experience. But as technology solutions for the contact center offer new methods for communications between the business and its customers, those businesses continue to struggle to maintain that connection.
This is the foundation of omnichannel principles. In essence, the multitude of channels developed during the multichannel era – phones, email, aps, texting, social media, and more – led to incredible amounts of de-personalization. “Please provide your birthdate for identity verification” and “Please enter the last four digits of your social security number using your keypad” ring hollow for those who have kept business with a company for any length of time. The transition from multichannel to omnichannel, and from omnichannel to a channel-less contact center, is an effort to forge new connections with customers that drive a memorable, personalized customer experience.
Multichannel Vs. Omnichannel
Most SMBs still linger in the multichannel mentality. Add as many channels as possible so your customers can reach out, support those channels with staff the best you can, and wait for the customers to call (or email or tweet or post). The problem is that these experiences are siloed. From the moment a customer searches the name of your business using a search engine to the moment they provide feedback on your products or services, every interaction – every customer experience – needs to feel just as personal as being greeted by the owner of the general store on Main Street. That’s what omnichannel attempts to do. By creating a single stream by which the customer feels connected, even though they are using multiple channels during their journey, businesses can create that experience customers want.
The trouble is that it is hard to do. What’s more, businesses that are still holding onto multichannel (or even worse, single channel) customer experiences are about to fall even further behind. This is because even omnichannel creates a channel-centric mentality. Your customers don’t care about channels. They don’t care about how they heard about you. What they care about is the authenticity and performance of the customer success team. Thus is born the channel-less contact center.
What Is A Channel-Less Contact Center?
Shep Hyken writes in his Forbes article, Moving From Omni-Channel to a Channel-Less Customer Experience, this insightful summary:
“In the end, the customer doesn’t care about how many channels you make available to them. They just want to buy the way they want to buy, have their questions answered, their problems solved and their comments acknowledged. It doesn’t matter what channel. So, why do we keep talking about different channels? It’s really about connecting and responding to the customer.”
Another way to think about this is a form of channel blending. Instead of switching between channels, customers will follow a customer journey where the channels are melded together into a seamless experience, from pre- to post-. What does channel-less look like? Think Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and wearable technology.
In a rather clickbait-headlined article, Jeff Hassemer lays this model out simply. He claims “channels don’t matter”, and as users require different media to connect with their brands, they will.
Getting To Channel-Less
Unfortunately, for companies still behind the curve, it might seem like a channel-less transformation is impossible to reach. That simply isn’t true. In fact, there is no better time to assess the landscape, look to the future, and align your business strategy to your business goals. Creating a strategic plan – or roadmap – is one way to ensure the technology solutions you choose support your intended business goals.
The eBook, Customers Drive, You Navigate: Your Contact Center Roadmap to Customer Care Success, dives right into this process. And while this eBook focuses on omnichannel, the key is to stop, analyze, plan, and act. Once you perform a roadmap assessment, you will know that the technology you are using is supporting the goals you have for your business.
Channel-less is less about semantics, and more about a digital transformation, about being future-ready for the next shift. A channel-less contact center blends the verified, valid channels in use by customers to provide an experience that focuses on solutions and resolutions, not channels. No matter where you are in your contact center journey, be ready for the only constant: change.
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About The Author
Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin two-year old daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.