The future of CX is interchannel

It’s been a full decade since omnichannel first exploded into the lexicon of contact center buzzwords. Now, as cloud and machine learning technologies grow more mature, we’re finally beginning to glimpse the next phase of CX evolution.

Forrester is calling it channel-less. We might call it interchannel; it’s all about the fluidity of the customer experience as they phase seamlessly between channels within a single interaction.

Promotion for 'Customer Experience in the Cloud' LinkedIn live stream series

Take the following scenario:

  1. A customer request comes in via chat.
  2. The chat agent sends them a link to a help desk FAQ.
  3. The FAQ doesn’t do the trick, so the customer clicks a link at the bottom, putting them at the front of the queue for a phone callback.
  4. A live agent calls the customer, but needs to better understand the issue.
  5. The live agent sends the customer a link via the chat client to open a video feed.
  6. The agent is able to diagnose the issue visually and instruct the customer on how to fix it in real time.

Not too painful, right? With interchannel, not only are we integrating and maintaining context across channels; we’re hopping fluidly between them, within a single interaction, as we react to the needs and communication preferences of the customer. It all starts from the customer’s perspective — “How do I solve my problem with the least amount of effort?” — rather than our own contact center KPIs.

Interchannel is more sophisticated, but at the same time simpler and more natural. For the contact center, it’s a variable multi-step process that touches multiple teams and technologies. But for the customer, it’s all one seamless flow.

Silo psychosis intervention

Here’s the problem: While industry analysts and pioneers are busy salivating over the possibilities of interchannel, most contact centers are still struggling to establish basic omnichannel continuity and orchestration.

Be honest — how closely does your customers’ reality match the contact flows you draw up on the whiteboard?

The reality is that many contact centers still have a separate strategy for each channel, including using different vendors for phone, email and chat. Unfortunately, this also means most companies are a tangle of disparate communications:

  • Only 35 percent of organizations report that they can track interactions across multiple channels (much less ensure seamless integration).
  • 76 percent can’t locate process blockages.
  • And 64 percent can’t identify key decision points.

The affliction is silo psychosis. The treatment plan? A good look in the mirror. A more integrated technology and channel strategy. And a more targeted customer feedback loop.

You need to evolve your technology strategy, through a combination of integrating some existing systems and replacing others with a more comprehensive CCaaS platform. And you need to dig deeper than topline net promoter score (NPS) or customer satisfaction (CSAT) metrics. Don’t just ask customers if they’d recommend you; ask how much effort it took them to resolve their problem.

The 3 key takeaways

With better visibility and customer feedback loops targeted to identify chokepoints in CX, you’ll be ready to make the push toward interchannel. Here are the takeaways to get you there:

  1. Truly look at your customer journey from the customer’s perspective! They don’t care about your channels or your KPIs for those channels or answering so many calls in so many minutes.
  2. Can ONE contact flow in and out of any channel, with the customer outcome being the goal?
  3. Are your agents’ skills based on the relationship with the customer, not the channel or device?

For even more insights, watch the full recent LinkedIn live stream episode on “Omnichannel vs. Interchannel. International? No…Interchannel.”

For discussion of similar topics, tune in for the “Customer Experience in the Cloud” live stream series with Valur Svansson, every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. CT on the Lifesize LinkedIn page. To watch past episodes on-demand, visit our YouTube channel.