Omni-channel vs Multi-channel. Is there a difference?

Omni-channel vs Multi-channel. Is there a difference?

Omni-channel vs Mutli-channel. Is there a difference? 

The words multi-channel and omni-channel are often used interchangeably by experts and consultants alike, but is there a difference? We believe there is.

 

Multi-channel refers to the fact that organisations interact with their customers over multiple channels including email, phone calls or social media. The problem with this is the transition between these channels isn’t smooth. As a consumer we find ourselves in a position where we have to explain and re-explain our situation or requirements, wasting time and building up irritation. 

 

Omni-channel, on the other hand, means there is channel awareness that allows for smooth transitioning between interactions. If I receive an SMS recommending a specific product or promotion and call the contact centre to take up the offer, the agent is immediately aware that I’m calling because of the promotion. They would also be aware if I wanted to complain.

 

Being constantly connected on digital platforms has changed how businesses need to interact with customers. Let’s take a look at the benefits an omni-channel solution could bring to your business.

 

1. Increase customer satisfaction

Customers want to interact with your business online, through a call centre, on social media, in-store, and they want these interactions to be consistent and immediate. An omni-channel approach prevents your customer from getting lost in a constant loop of communication with no resolution.

Nothing irritates your customers more than not having their voices heard. This happens when a customer phones your call centre, but they don’t have the information to resolve the call and so they email the service desk and then they might be pushed back to the call centre. With an omni-channel approach your business can make first call resolutions a reality, by having consistent and accurate customer data.

 

2. Make informed decisions with a data-driven view of your client

Understand your customers better, identify untapped market opportunities and make smarter business decisions. Omni-channel is about helping customers at the right time, with the right product and the right advice.

 

Using customer insights will help you track behavioural patterns in how and where your customers find information, and what products or services they want to buy. The data you have on hand will also allow you to ask better questions, and these questions will drive improved processes.

 

3. Reduce operational costs

Consistent and relevant data also allows you to measure operational efficiency where it counts. Omni-channel allows you to automate standardised processes. Automation could reduce call centre agent handling time, help reduce time to resolution and in turn reduce operational costs while increasing customer interactions.

 

4. Improve productivity and collaboration

Remove information silos between departments to encourage collaboration. Omni-channel brings together data from many sources, into one view for client-facing teams.

 

Gone are the days where the person who has been with a company for the longest usually holds all client information. This causes key man dependency and is a business risk. An omni-channel system removes this risk by giving the people in your business a full view of your clients.

 

Give your business the advantage with an omni-channel system that can increase profitability through increased customer satisfaction. Why not get in touch with us to see how we can partner to create a consistent customer experience.

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Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

For years, the human touch was considered the cornerstone of great customer service. Friendliness, a helpful attitude – it’s easy to imagine.

But can machines augment this and help make customers even happier?

A recent study from McKinsey identified marketing and sales as among the top areas that will soon be transformed by A.I.:

‘A.I. technologies are finding applications across the value chain, but some parts of the value chain are getting more attention than others… customer service as well as operations and product development, all tend to use the most commonly cited A.I. applications.’ 1

Many think A.I. is still an aspirational technology, but the numbers reveal that it’s a revolution already up and running. Consider some of the numbers:

78% of brands say they have already implemented or are planning to implement artificial intelligence … by 2020 to better serve customers. With regards to chatbots, which are in many ways the most recognisable form of A.I., 80% of sales and marketing leaders say they already use these in their CX or plan to do so by 2020.’ 2

 

‘By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.’3

 

A.I. and, in particular, machine learning not only helps make self-service interfaces more intuitive but anticipates specific customer needs by learning from context, chat history and preferences.

Getting down with data

A major reason for A.I.’s edge when it comes to keeping customers smiling? It’s all down to data – and the ability to process and make sense of it rapidly.

Simply put, machines can locate and process information far quicker than we can. Given the vast quantities of both incoming and outgoing information a typical customer service department has to deal with digital tools provide a genuine edge.

Audio calls. Live chats. Troubleshooting queries. Service scheduling. Maintenance requests. Machines can do it better and faster – and they don’t need any breaks.

More than this, A.I.-enabled customer service tools can:

  • Gather and learn from information
  • Define customer behaviours
  • Identify customers’ frequent decisions and preference types
  • Provide solutions and suitable products based on feedback
  • Provide proactive alert messages
  • Suggest personalised offers and discounts for each unique customer
  • Offer real-time support in the form of uniquely curated FAQs or blogs
  • Help lessen customer complaints and abandon rates

Personalisation perfected

Today, all great customer service centres on personalisation. It’s based on understanding a customer, their history with a company and their unique needs. This means being reactive to both what’s happened in the past, as well as understanding how to help shape the best outcomes for that customer in the future. But its also about maintaining an ongoing, value-adding relationship, and not just coming into the picture when its time to make a sale.

With complete access to customer information and buying history, A.I. helps make this process – of building and maintaining relationships – smart. More than this, A.I. is always 100% brand consistent. So customers know what to expect, every time they make contact. A real trust builder.

Future forward

Today, companies can no longer focus only on customer satisfaction post-sale. It’s about providing ongoing, meaningful and helpful interaction, and crafting amazing, personalised and highly relevant experiences. A.I. is the driver behind that personalisation process. The more relevant an offer or advice is to a customer, the more cared for that customer feels.

In this way, A.I. helps turn everything from a quick query to the sales process itself into a great customer service experience. Why? Customers are presented with a range of tailored options that speak intelligently to their unique needs.

Today, get customer experience wrong and you push your customers into your competitors’ hands. Do it right and you build brand advocates.

It’s about keeping up, keeping an open mind, and listening to what today’s consumers want. And when it comes to a better, more personalised service, A.I. technology is what you need.

Want to see how you can deliver exceptional customer service? Check out an A.I.-infused customer service solution.

 

References
1.https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Advanced%20Electronics/Our%20Insights/How%20artificial%20intelligence%20can%20deliver%20real%20value%20to%20companies/MGI-Artificial-Intelligence-Discussion-paper.ashx
2.  https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/s/delivery_production/docs/FY16h1/doc35/CXResearchVirtualExperiences.pdf
3. http://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/summits/docs/na/customer-360/C360_2011_brochure_FINAL.pdf

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4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

Customer service – the term calls to mind rows and rows of headset-wearing agents working through hundreds and hundreds of queries and, yes, complaints. They’re an operations director’s bugbear – running customer service can be a massive expense.

Customers do need a way to get in touch and get help. However, inefficient, people-heavy contact centres are (thankfully) on their way out. In their place are arising lean, tech-powered, data-rich powerhouses – where queries and service requests are handled seamlessly, rapidly, and at a minimum of expense.

Frustration and repetition, meet reactivity and results

The average customer service representative receives the same queries and requests over and over on any given day. Many of these are incredibly simple to resolve. A problem with how to use a product or system, for example. A service call-in. Reporting a known bug in the system.

Though each query may be quick to resolve, getting of hundreds of them on a daily basis begins to drain an agent’s time massively – and jam up the waiting queue.

There’s also the customer’s perspective to consider. For many of us, the thought of dialling into a call centre often provokes dread. Too many experiences with agents who failed to understand our problem didn’t have the right info, or couldn’t resolve the issue have meant many of us now prefer to self-serve – if we can.

Customer Service 2.0

CRM solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 make great self-service options a reality. But they also make interactions with agents more efficient and effective.

When it comes to customer service, every company – and customer – wants accuracy, helpfulness and speed. Closing customer service cases faster not only means happier clients – when done intelligently, it means lower costs too: less time, fewer resources.

Here’s how a CRM solution helps companies close service cases faster:

 

  1. The data powerhouse effect

Gone are the days of customers needing to wait while agents search for the information they need – often only to find it’s not there. Good CRM solutions collate all the information your company has with its customers. That single datastore is a goldmine. With access to all the data they need, agents are enabled to provide rapid, relevant information.

With a visual interface tailored to an agent’s role, all the guidance, data and tools each agent needs are in one place. Even third-party information can be integrated.

More than this, CRM solutions allow agents to view all customer engagements – from chat to social to telephonic interactions. With every customer interaction recorded and centralised, case handover becomes seamless.

 

  1. Streamlining for success

Your customers want information – and they want it fast. They’re busy. Maybe they’re tired. With scripting and intelligent recommendations, agents can follow the best route to assist customers. So they can do it faster, too. More than that, by integrating personal customer data into every interaction, agents can provide service that’s not only more efficient but more meaningful. Customers become more than just cases.

More than that, CRM solutions allow for knowledge compounding. With access to information about how other agents solved similar cases – along with forms, manuals and FAQs – the service department just gets better and better. It learns from itself.

 

  1. Keeping an eye on the clock

With access to real-time insights into every case, SLA timers and entitlements, agents can make sure that service level agreements are always met.

Collaboration tools also help agents connect – both with each other and with subject matter experts. So the right answer is always at hand. If an agent’s initial answer isn’t on the mark, cases can be automatically escalated to a specialist able to solve the problem.

 

  1. Stellar self-service

This is where CRM solutions really come into their own. Today, many people would rather solve their issue alone than contact an agent. CRM solutions make self-service seamless. Moreover, they keep people costs down. By leveraging searchable databases and community support options, customers are equipped to solve their issues in the way that suits them.

Live chat is a key component of the self-service revolution. Bots are a great way to engage portal and web customers. Intelligent systems guide users to the solutions and information they need. The result: customers not only feel cared for, but they no longer need to get in touch with contact centres, keeping costs – and queues – down.

 

Make this a reality!

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Smart Talk: How artificial intelligence is reinventing customer service

Smart Talk: How artificial intelligence is reinventing customer service

Smart Talk: How artificial intelligence is reinventing customer service

Today’s customers have high expectations. Hyerpersonalisation. Instant responses to queries. Omnichannel access. Intuitive interfaces. Immersive experiences.

The companies that get it right reap the rewards. Consider the stats:

  • Research shows that 9 out of 10 consumers are loyal to brands who offer low-effort interactions.1
  • More than three-quarters of global consumers hold a more positive view of brands that provide proactive customer service notifications.2

To keep customers engaged, however, companies must compete in a marketplace where the benchmarks keep rising. Why? Exposed to the offerings of best-in-class digital juggernauts such as Amazon, consumers develop a taste for the most cutting-edge tech – and soon come to think of it as normal – whether they’re aware of it or not.

What are the drivers? A major one is advancement in AI. Today, artificial intelligence underlies an increasing number of customer service interactions – at both the front and back end. From brand spokesperson to service agent assistant, AI is remaking the interface between brands and their customers.

How? Here are some of the ways.

AI is many customers’ first touchpoint.

Many of today’s consumers would rather find a solution to a query without having to dial into a call centre or deal with a service agent over the phone. Brands know this, and it’s why chatbots are an increasing number of brands’ first line of contact.

Easily accessible via a messenger window, bots are great at dealing with simple and medium-complexity queries. The result is quick customer resolution as well as decreased workload for the company’s human agents – to whom a bot might refer a customer in the case of a complex query.

By filtering incoming queries in this way, companies are realising that a human touch isn’t always necessary. Rather, it’s efficiency that customers want.

AI – which is able to draw on a range of data spanning past brand interactions (and often external data, too) – isn’t working from a blank slate. Rather, it’s able to contextualise queries, making sure replies are targeted, helpful and to the point.

AI is flexible.

Today’s customers take digital dynamism for granted. Daily immersion in tech means multi-device connectivity – and interaction on their own terms. For many, their nearest bank branch is an app. Their nearest retail outlet, their mobile. Brands have to keep pace. Access to a device means access to AI, whether via a messaging app or website.

AI is predictive.

Consumer queries are rarely totally unique. An issue or question raised by one customer is likely to soon be voiced by another. AI comes into its own in this area.

On one hand, when the same query is raised by a number of consumers, AI begins to learn. By piecing together the reasons behind a specific type of query, AI can learn to provide more helpful and targeted solutions to subsequent customers – having found what resolution worked best for those who came before.

More importantly, AI is able to predict queries before they happen. Through IoT-enabled devices, weather forecasts, inventory management services and more, AI can now anticipate when a customer is likely to call in, and why.

The result is the ability to pre-empt queries and surprise customers with helpful suggestions, at just the right time.

Building Business Dynamism

Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers an embedded suite of advanced AI capabilities, capable of tackling complex scenarios end to end. Here are four ways:

  1. Omnichannel engagement. A unified platform provides 360-degree customer views across devices, drawing on a full history of interactions, user preferences, and other relevant customer information, even from third-party applications.
  2. Self-service and community access. Those who prefer to find answers on their own through self-service and community options can now do so – including accessing help via third-party sites, such as Facebook.
  3. Agent empowerment. Agents are able to access a single environment on their desktop or mobile device, allowing for more personalised and meaningful customer interactions. Topic analysis and machine learning scenarios also bring up relevant articles at the right time, meaning agents are equipped to solve cases faster and improve first-time resolution rates.
  4. Unified knowledge. A single source of knowledge provides approved content across channels and lines of business. Knowledgebase administrators can also capture and create content from multiple sources, while the approval workflow makes sure information is accurate and mitigates risk.

Want to find out how you can infuse AI into your customer service?

See our AI-enabled customer service solution.

 

1 Shifting the Loyalty Curve: Mitigating Disloyalty by Reducing Customer Effort by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB)

2 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report, Microsoft

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Privacy and Protection: GDPR – what you need to know

Privacy and Protection: GDPR – what you need to know

Privacy and Protection – What you need to know about the GDPR

Does your company deal with data from individuals or companies in the European Union (EU)? If so, read on.

Data is everywhere – and at the heart of almost every business. Yet recent data breaches have meant heightened security concerns.

Here in South Africa we are familiar with the impending PoPI Act. But if you have clients that are European Citizens, or based in the EU you’ll also have to navigate a new piece of legislation: GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation).

The GDPR: a 5-second overview

At core, The General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) is about safeguarding the privacy of individuals and companies in the EU, and reflects the implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy.

What will the GDPR do?

The GDPR will place new rules on companies that deal with EU residents. It will also apply to companies that collect or analyse data tied to EU residents, no matter where they are located.

To do this, the GDPR establishes global requirements governing how companies manage and protect personal data – and respect individual choice. Importantly, it is a law that will apply no matter where the relevant data is sent, processed, or stored.

When is it due to take effect?

The GDPR comes into effect on 25 May 2018.

What will the impacts be?

Depending on what data a company holds, the GDPR may mean a number of changes. These may include updates to personal privacy policies or strengthening how data is protected.

What are some of the key elements of the GDPR?

  • Enhanced personal privacy rights. Part of the law looks to improve data protection. It will do this by giving EU residents the right to: access their data, correct inaccuracies, erase or move their data, or object to processing of their information.
  • Increased data protection duties. The accountability of companies that process personal data will be reinforced and their responsibility for ensuring compliance increased.
  • Mandatory data breach reporting. In the event of a breach, companies will be required to report the situation quickly, generally no later than 72 hours after the fact.
  • Penalties for non-compliance. The GDPR will mean sanctions and fines can be imposed on organisations that have failed to comply.

Does the GDPR apply to my business?

The GDPR applies to companies (operators or controllers) in the EU.

It also applies to those outside the EU who offer goods and services to, or collect personal data from, EU residents.

What kind of data does the GDPR consider ‘personal data’?

The GDPR considers personal data to be any information related to an identified – or identifiable –natural person. This relates to direct identification data (such as a legal name). However, it also covers indirect identification data (data that makes it clear who is being referenced).

Personal data also includes online identifiers (such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs) and location data.

I use Dynamics 365. What types of data might be affected?

  • Customer data. This spans all text, sound, video or image files and software.
  • Administrator data. This is information about administrators supplied during signup, purchase, or administration of Microsoft services. It includes names, phone numbers, email addresses and aggregated usage information.
  • Payment data. This is the information companies provide when making online purchases with Microsoft, including credit card numbers, security codes, names and billing addresses and other financial data.
  • Support data. This information is supplied in a support request or results from running an automated troubleshooter.
  • A special note on children’s data: Children (defined as a natural person under the age of 16 or as specified by Member State law) need specific data protection. Data controllers will need to get the consent of a parent/guardian for using the child’s personal data.
Where do I begin? Dynamics 365 users have four stages to follow in the journey toward GDPR compliance: discover, manage, protect and report. Step 1 – Discover: Companies need to identify what personal data they hold have and where that data rests. This means both searching for and identifying the relevant personal information and then classifying it. Step 2 – Manage: This relates to governing how personal data is used and accessed. This means, among other things, putting in place a governance system that can: notify subjects about how their personal data will be processed, get consent from data subjects around the processing of their personal data, provide a way for subjects to ask that processing of their data be stopped, correct inaccurate or incomplete data, transfer and save data. The system should also make it clear how data requests are processed and resolved. Step 3 – Protect: Companies need to establish security controls to prevent, detect, and respond to data vulnerabilities and data breaches. Companies must put in place data privacy and security controls that ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of personal data. Encryption is one tool that satisfies the GDPR requirements. Step 4 – Report: To show GDPR compliance through reporting, companies need to maintain an audit trail of all processing activities, requests and their resolution. Companies will also need to track and record flows of personal data into and out of the EU and third-party service providers. Moving toward GDPR compliance needn’t be an involved or difficult process, but companies should start thinking today about the steps they may need to take. At The CRM Team, we’re helping our customers keep in step with this legislation. There are many ways this can be done, but our preferred platform is Microsoft Dynamics 365 – a suite of intelligent business applications that brings all your customer information together in one place.

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Navy SEALs. Combat Leadership. And The Ongoing Campaign For Your Customer’s Heart.

Navy SEALs. Combat Leadership. And The Ongoing Campaign For Your Customer’s Heart.

Navy SEALs. Combat Leadership. And The Ongoing Campaign For Your Customers Heart.

Extreme ownership event
If you heard Navy SEALs on 947 Breakfast Xpress, 702 Money, or Cliff Central in the past few weeks, you’ll know that Jocko Willink and Leif Babin were in South Africa to talk about leadership.

But when people heard that The CRM Team were bringing two of the scariest Navy SEAL’s imaginable to South Africa, they typically had one question:

 

“What do Navy SEALs have to do with Customer Relationship Management?”

 

It’s simple. No matter what industry you’re in, your teams are fighting daily battles!

Marketing are driving brand awareness and fighting to acquire new leads. Sales are fending off aggressive competition and attempting to achieve their objective; winning new customers. Your delivery teams are dealing with complex logistics to fulfill on customers orders. And, your customer service teams are constantly trying to assist customers. All the while de-escalating to ensure your business retains and grows the customer your teams fought so hard for.

In the end, it’s best to accept that your business is in an ongoing campaign to win your customers hearts!

At The CRM Team, it’s our mission to help companies win those battles and build deep, meaningful relationships with their customers. Typically we do that by implementing solutions on top of state-of-the-art technology from Microsoft. We add to that with our thought leadership events like the Ten-by-10’s and more recently, the Extreme Ownership Event.

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin are decorated Navy SEALs, but more importantly they’re co-authors of the New York Times #1 best selling leadership book, Extreme Ownership – How Navy SEAL’s Lead and Win. Their company Echelon Front deliver leadership coaching for a wide range of companies, including a number of Fortune 100’s!

The book details the characteristics of great leaders and provides a framework for leadership, based on the laws of combat:

  1. Cover and Move
  2. Simple
  3. Prioritise and Execute
  4. Decentralised Command

We were privileged to host them in South Africa, where 400 people from over 70 companies got to learn this framework firsthand.

Extreme ownership event
Sure, drawing parallels between war and business may seem a bit dramatic. But consider this:

 

“On the battlefield lives are at stake. In the business world livelihoods are at stake! Peoples careers, their ability to pay their home loans. And, companies have capital at risk.”

 

Extreme ownership event
Battle is a condensed version of life. A leadership decision made on the battlefield has near instantaneous consequences. In the business world, the realization of consequences is typically more protracted.

So if Jocko and Leif have a leadership framework that’s proven on the battlefield, why wouldn’t we want to learn it and apply this highly effective framework in your business.

 

“There are only two measurements for a leader; effective or ineffective”

 

Extreme ownership event
Systems and frameworks are effective! Goals and targets are ineffective!

The principles that Jocko and Leif share can be applied by people at every level and in every team within your business.

We’ve proven it at The CRM Team and it’s paid huge dividends for us!

When it comes to the work we do for companies like yours, we’ve defined a CRM framework that will help you be successful in the campaign for your customers hearts!

Just like Jocko and Leif’s framework, it’s based on extensive experience… and it’s simple. It’s designed to help you understand the highest priorities in your business and what to execute on first. It’s also designed to help your people manage the process themselves in a decentralised way.

Extreme ownership event
 

If your business is trying to improve the effectiveness of your Marketing, Sales, Delivery and Customer Service teams: Sign up to attend one of the “Ten by 10’s” (Limited to 10 people, giving great value, done by 10am) or talk to us. We’ll share more detail on the CRM framework and the tools that will help you have a rapid and decisive impact on your battlefield.

 

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