Omnichannel communication; Why the death of voice calling won’t happen anytime soon – Ashish Koul, President at Acqueon explians why
Although there are exceptions, voice is no longer necessarily king when it comes to customer contact. In an era of increased regulation, customer expectations, and higher call center costs – voice calling alone simply isn’t as lucrative or effective as it once was. Although contact center systems are still built as primarily voice-centric platforms; channels such as SMS, email and chat are rapidly growing as a result of increased customer demand. Whereas voicemails are increasingly ignored these days, 90 percent of text messages are opened and read within three minutes making them much more effective for businesses.
As technologies have advanced, SMS has evolved; today iMessage, WhatsApp and Viber have embraced SMS messaging and updated it, but fundamentally the process is the same. Similarly, e-mail is another tool that has also led to the replacement of voice calls and help businesses make contact with customer without agitating them. As such, it is critically important to provide customers with the option of multiple channels to contact a business. With this in mind, businesses might be wondering whether there is a place for voice in outbound communication of the future.
Know your audience
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that voice is dead. In fact, in certain situations, voice is still one of the key communication methods for businesses. For instance, some problems can only be resolved by speaking with a person; high-value transactions are also frequently conducted over the phone by request of customers as well. The omnichannel approach needs to be led by data, where the business knows why and how they should be communicating with a customer based on their preferences, their value to the business, and the time and nature of the enquiry. This means that the business should always be able to evaluate how to contact the customer before initiating an engagement. Some examples of this are as follows:
• In a B2B business transaction a high value customer with high likelihood of conversion will receive a personal call about an offer or promotion. Whereas a lower value customer is better suited to receive a less expensive and less personalised contact such as an email or text message. Similarly, with a potential new customer, less invasive forms of communication such as email are used.
• In healthcare, a hospital confirming a check-up with a doctor would end a simple SMS for the patient to either confirm or cancel an appointment. However, when they are confirming major surgery, they would use a voice call in-order to convey more information and ensure the patient is correctly informed of potential requirements and preparations.
Intelligence in communication
To actually achieve this level of stratified, omnichannel communication management is not easy. To ensure outbound communications are personalised requires businesses to have processes and systems in place that facilitate the ability to manage the customer journey closely. It’s almost impossible to try and manage this kind of data manually in spreadsheets – especially for firms with larger customer bases.
The best way to manage this kind of information is to use a campaign management platform that can track customer interactions across all the platforms used by an organisation and its customers. These link to contact center systems as well to ensure resources aren’t wasted on inappropriate communication methods. These campaign management systems also automate systems such as SMS reminders meaning they are handled completely autonomously saving further time and money for the business.
With customers increasingly bombarded with messages from all angles, it takes a lot for them to really pay attention to a business’s communications. To unlock the value of outbound omnichannel, organisations must look to invest in both outbound technology that makes the most sense for the business as well as have the expertise (in house or outsourced) to use that technology effectively. There is certainly a place for voice in this landscape as well, when it is correctly used it can foster customer loyalty and satisfaction. However, each channel has its strengths and weaknesses, meaning businesses need to embrace omnichannel strategies in order to ensure they keep customers happy. They should also ensure that the communication strategy are not operated in silos for each channel but through a unified campaign orchestration across channels to engage with customer.
Ashish Koul is President at Acqueon
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