‘Omni-channel’ can be a daunting prospect. Connecting every channel isn’t just a huge logistical challenge, it can also be extremely expensive. But, the good news is that making your customers’ lives easier doesn’t have to cost the world – it can all start with a few tactical integrations.
‘Omni-channel’ is one of today’s biggest business buzzwords – particularly in the field of customer service and CX. Many organisations have a vision in which all channels are fully integrated, all draw on a single customer record, and all interactions are guided by real-time insights from multiple data sources.
This is a great ambition for any enterprise, but the practicalities make achieving it very difficult. Relatively few enterprises have the time, budget and resources to rip out existing channels and replace them with a single, omni-channel platform.
While this may be the eventual goal, the reality is that most organisations are better placed to make immediate, incremental improvements via tactical integration projects.
The incremental path to omni-channel
The IVR presents huge opportunities for incremental integration projects on the path to omni-channel. In particular, there are a number of tactical and relatively easy cross-channel journeys that can deliver spectacular returns in terms of customer service wins and efficiency gains.
For example, we’ve seen companies reap big rewards with small-scale channel integrations like:
Click to call: Offering website browsers or app users the ability to click or tap to speak with someone. That might involve a short IVR interaction as part of the transfer, or to offer automation options if they haven’t already tried on the web, but usually customers who click-to-call need to speak to an agent, so it’s your job to get them there ASAP.
SMSconfirmations: Sending the caller more details or an immediate confirmation by SMS of what’s just been completed on the call: e.g. a booking, payment or order.
Personalised URLs: Rather than having the IVR tell every caller they can also visit the website, offer the option during the interaction to receive a personalised link to a relevant page where they can continue the interaction without entering their login details again when they get there.
Think “IVR first”
While the organisation mulls an investment in an omni-channel suite, it doesn’t mean the IVR has to stand still. There are lots of tools out there to enable simple cross-channel journeys that can make a big difference to the customer experience without costing the earth (or indeed, in the case of some open-source tools, anything at all).
By adding simple, tactical integrations between the IVR and other channels, you can start experimenting with omni-channel and get a feel for the kinds of interactions that your customers really respond to. Whether you’re providing information via text after calls, or offering links to help callers complete tasks in different channels, their responses can help guide and shape the rest of your omni-channel strategy.
Where next for cross-channel IVR integration?
Another important benefit of integrating the IVR with other contact channels is that it can help you keep up with ever-changing and increasing customer service demands. While seamless experiences that extend across multiple channels are something of a desirable luxury today, it won’t be long before they’re the norm that customers expect.
Thanks to huge mobile device adoption and usage, you’re probably already seeing a surge in customers partially completing tasks in one channel and expecting to be able to seamlessly hop to another to finish them off. If you want to enable them to do that without repeating huge chunks of their experiences, integration is essential.
You don’t need to wait for a big-bang investment in omni-channel to start reaping the benefits it can deliver. By using tactical IVR tools to make useful, small-scale channel integrations, you can make a big difference to the experiences your customers receive.
These incremental changes can help you keep up with current customer demands and deliver highly-connected, superior experiences that retain value long into the future – without having to invest a huge amount of money upfront.