Remember when you picked up the phone and laughed over a WhatsApp conversation you had with a friend? Or referred to a tweet or Instagram post they shared? These simple conversations are everyday examples of omni channel communications. They are taking place all around us—and today’s customers expect their communication with brands and businesses to be the same. Not only do they expect businesses to be available on all the channels they use, they expect these interactions to be seamless.
What does this mean?
It means that if a customer chats with a business on his desktop during office hours, and then calls them during his commute home, he expects the company representative to recognize him and have access to details he gave during the previous chat. The customer does not want to repeat a conversation each time he switches communication channels.
The good news is that it is relatively simple for businesses to provide this smooth customer experience. The bad news is that 80% of businesses still do not do it. According to a Customer Contact Week Report released in March, when customers switch channels, they often need to repeat details they might have given in a previous conversation.
What businesses need to enable omni-channel communications?
There are two essential components to providing a seamless, omni channel experience:
Businesses need to be available on the channels popular with their customers.
They need to have a unified view of customers across these channels.
To fulfill the first criterion, businesses need to gauge which channels suit their customers and service. Older customers may appreciate voice, while younger customers cannot do without a messaging channel. A cloud contact center solution allows businesses to choose which channels to provide support on.
Businesses can fulfill the second criterion of a unified customer view by integrating their contact center solution with their CRM or ticketing solution. Customer details, along with previous call or chat transcripts will then be available to the customer representative who is conversing with the customer regardless of the channel.
Case Study: Integrating WhatsApp with Call Center Support
Let us consider an omni channel support consisting of WhatsApp and phone support. A customer sends a WhatsApp message inquiring about a delayed delivery. She is greeted by a welcome prompt with a promise of follow-up. A few seconds later, her phone buzzes and a WhatsApp message states why her delivery is delayed and expected time of arrival. She responds with an “OK”. Half an hour later, the customer realizes she needs to step out and won't be available to receive the package. She decides to call and tell the business. The agent who answers is not the same as the agent who answered the WhatsApp text, yet he knows about the customer’s delayed delivery because the details show up on his screen while they speak. The agent and customer talk and fix a suitable delivery time.
To manage these conversations smoothly across WhatsApp, phone and other channels, here is what the business requires at the backend:
Automatic Chat Distribution: Incoming chats needs to be evenly distributed amongst the call center agents.
Flexible interface: A business may not have dedicated agents to answer WhatsApp messages. In that case, the call center interface will have to automatically switch to chat or call mode, depending on whether the agent receives a message or a call.
Integration: The business needs to integrate its contact center solution with its CRM solution and its WhatsApp Business API. This way the agent sees all CRM information about the customer while answering WhatsApp messages or phone calls. They can easily enter details into the CRM, and all chat transcripts and call recordings are available against the customer ticket.
Chatbots: Businesses may need to use chatbots to greet customers, answer FAQs and deliver basic self-service such as cancellations or rescheduling, based on call or chat volumes.
The hottest new channels for omnichannel support
So what will be the hottest new channels you need to integrate into your call center in 2020? The phone will remain the hot favorite. Live Chat too will continue to be popular. But the channel, which is expected to see maximum growth will hands-down be WhatsApp.
In its first year, WhatsApp was being cautious with handing out its business phone numbers. However, now the process to get a WhatsApp Business API number has become much smoother. Of course, WhatsApp still maintains multiple measures to ensure that businesses cannot use its channel to flood people with sales messages. However, with 1.5 billion users actively using the channel multiple times a day, active users, it has tremendous potential as a customer support and a customer engagement channel.
So this year the WhatsApp messages you follow up with phone calls, and vice versa, won’t be limited to conversations with friends—but will include interactions with the brands you love and trust the most.
The article has been authored by Chaitanya Chokkareddy, Chief Innovation Officer, Ozonetel