The secret to Omni channel is Channel Compatibility

shutterstock_217020259 [Converted]_v3

Your customers have a multitude of channels through which they can interact with you. Does that make them omnichannel or multichannel? It doesn’t really matter, so long as your customer service team has visibility into all of the communication channels your customers use. This applies to everyone who faces your customers, whether they are store employees, in-house call center team, or outsourced partners. Consistency of customer experience across these disparate channels is key. A customer can start a query on her phone, check online reviews on a website, open a web chat to verify further, and then complete the purchase at the store. Any point along the way is a potential gain or loss. A successful customer experience involves minimal effort on the part of the customer and seamless integration.

My recent experience with a telecom carrier is a case study in omnichannel confusion. I wanted to set up direct bill of my cellphone to my corporate credit card. Should be an easy transaction, right? On the first call, the carrier was more interested in changing my password than in my billing. Every time I called their call center, they would only reset my password. On one call they suggested I visit a brick-and-mortar store, but the store had no record that I was already a customer. I called ten times and spoke with ten different agents, who reset my password ten times. My new password is an alphanumeric anagram of the atomic weight of Promethium, the birth dates of two childhood pets, and two Rickenbacker guitar models. But no direct bill. So I took to Twitter. The carrier’s Twitter team couldn’t verify that I was their customer. To further complicate matters, the call center agents had no visibility into the Twitter team’s records or my store visit. Apparently the three channels use separate databases and vendor partners that have neither an intersection point nor the ability to share data. Thus the seeds of channel discontent are sown. My personal case should not have taken multiple calls, a store visit, half a dozen tweets, and hundreds of hours of frustration.

The lesson learned is whatever the channel(s) your customer chooses, make sure the channels can reference the same contact information and customer interaction activity. Omni channel can be a beautiful thing when properly executed. Channel compatibility can make for an exceptional customer experience.