Having a multichannel environment can involve several departments – IT, marketing, corporate – not just the contact centre. Consistency can only be achieved if everyone involved is briefed properly and methods and processes are integrated. This may sound obvious but it doesn’t always happen. The organisational structure, responsibilities and required skills needed should be considered as one big picture when planning strategy.

In the contact centre skill sets and resources need to be carefully considered in order to provide a consistent service for multichannel; for example, if social media is to be used as an outbound marketing channel, customer services advisors need to be ready to handle the resulting inbound demand. When planning, ensure that you consider the strengths of your team – not all good voice agents are great at writing and so on.

Integration of channels is also crucial. You might know this as having a ‘single viewpoint’ – it doesn’t work to have channels in silos, with different people looking at separate information and then everyone trying to piece it all together when contacting customers. When your advisors help a customer they need to know straight away if that person has sent recent emails, had web chats etc – any past interactions should be clearly visible to them.

All those involved need fast access to the customer master record across channels and any web-based self-service applications, in association with the CRM application or other case management programmes. This should be updated by all in real time.

Existing technology may make integration seem a challenge but it’s better to address it now than have a barely adequate system, which will cause problems as you progress. Moving from a hardware-centric environment into an open IP / SIP-based software-led architecture makes integration and the addition of new channels easier.

Another piece of technology vital to consistency is the desktop – mistakes occur when, to help a customer, agents are battling with numerous screens and applications to get to the right data. There are desktop systems available which reduce the number of screens and processes required, enabling advisors to do their job better, faster and with compliance and accuracy.

In summary:

  1. Make sure you have a well-considered strategy and the tools to cope with multichannel before you implement it – it’s not something to attempt half-heartedly.
  2. The better you can track and understand your customers’ histories, the more you’ll be able to simplify your operating environment. You’ll have the information to unify processes, applications and business rules and apply them across all channels. This will improve the customer experience, reduce costs and increase consistency.
  3. It’s worth stressing – you should integrate all the channels you use.