Imagine giving your team the ability to see all the information your company has on any lead or customer while also making it possible to contact them via any channel your company uses—all from a single platform.
That’s what an omnichannel contact center does. It ties together everything a team of agents might use—from social media, text apps, and chatbots to phone calls, VoIP phone services, and CRM systems.
Unlike multichannel contact centers, which keep information siloed from channel to channel, omnichannel contact centers put everything behind a single pane of glass for higher efficiency and more impactful communications.
Differences Between Omnichannel Contact Centers
Although any omnichannel contact center can, in theory, work for any business, there are likely only a few options that will work well for a given company.
From differences in the hardware that each system uses to the complexity of certain integrations, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing an omnichannel contact center for your business. You’ll have to figure out what kind of infrastructure you’ll need, which channels are the most important to you, and just how much IT work you’re willing to do.
How to Select the Best Omnichannel Contact Center
Take Inventory of All Hardware and Channels
While most omnichannel contact centers work with a wide range of hardware and communications channels, you should go into your search knowing exactly what you need your new omnichannel contact center to do. Make a list of all the channels you want to connect to it along with all of the functions you need it to be able to handle—otherwise, you may be in for some surprises down the line.
For instance, imagine finding out at the eleventh hour that your sales team needs a Whatsapp integration but your omnichannel contact center can’t handle it—or that your IT team has a problematic firewall issue to sort through.
To prevent these kinds of hiccups, it’s a good idea to draft an initial list by yourself and circulate it around to your team to notify everyone that you’re looking for a new omnichannel contact center. Ask people to document all the ways their department would use it and find out what the entire team requires before you get too deep in the mud of a system that isn’t right for you.
Demo the CRM Integration
Seamless CRM integration is the backbone of any omnichannel contact center—because without it, you basically have a very fancy multichannel contact center that’s missing key functionality.
One of the best parts about an omnichannel contact center is how seamless it makes pulling up information about existing and potential customers while agents are making or taking calls. When you combine that with the fact that all the information is centralized, this makes it possible for your team to work together and share information in a way that other kinds of setups can’t do. Plus, with a good CRM integration, you can also set up a smooth call routing system so that customers are directed to the right team member automatically when they call a centralized number.
Keep in mind that although most omnichannel contact center vendors will advertise integrations with a range of popular CRMs, you shouldn’t take this at face value. Despite the existence of an integration with your preferred CRM, not all integrations are created equal.
This means you should make sure that the omnichannel contact center reads the data in your CRM the same way you enter it, as there might be issues with APIs or protocols that can lead to data being lost or misfiled. The last thing you want is to be heartbroken by upgrading to a new omnichannel contact center that turns your CRM data into junk, so make sure you demo the CRM integration with whatever omnichannel contact center you’re considering.
As you’re doing this, try to use your own CRM if possible—because you never know which customizations could make a difference. At the end of the day, it’s just safer or better to see the integration work first-hand, and you’ll also be able to get a feel for how the omnichannel contact center would function for your company on a daily basis.
Account For Your IT Bandwidth
While some omnichannel contact centers come ready to use straight out of the box, others require a lot more setup and perhaps even some coding. This is why it’s important to account for IT bandwidth.
If your business doesn’t have the capacity for a code-heavy setup—or if it’s not even something you want to have—this can be a big factor when considering your options. By ignoring this, you risk getting stuck with a solution that takes more work to set up than you’re able or willing to do.
As a general rule of thumb, you may want to be wary of omnichannel contact centers that come with a lower sticker price. While they may seem more appealing and beginner-friendly, a lot of them are priced lower because they assume you have developers on staff who can modify and maintain them.
To make sure you get an omnichannel contact center that’s a fit for your needs, you may want to ask your IT department to review the setup guides for any contact center you’re considering. Most platform websites have an overview of what the setup process looks like, but if you can’t find a clear answer there, do an internet search for “[Omnichannel contact center you’re considering] troubleshooting setup” or a similar phrase. This will give you a good idea of what most users go through and any common issues they experience.
Also, remember to talk to the sales representatives of the contact centers you’re considering and ask them to talk you through what setup and maintenance typically look like.
Review Analytics and Reporting
The ability to communicate across multiple channels while simultaneously seeing cloud-based customer data is a huge boost to any business, but don’t forget about all the analytics and reporting you can do with a great omnichannel contact center as well.
Since your contact center keeps everything centralized and accessible, you can easily track all sorts of data—from customer feedback to first-call resolution (FCR) statistics. In fact, if your contact center comes with AI language recognition, you may even be able to see how your customers feel about your products.
When it comes to your agents, you can also review data about the kinds of calls they make, how many calls they’re making, what’s happening in those communications, how long they’re taking to respond to inquiries, and even how well they’re upholding your company policies.
When you’re considering different platforms, look for analytics and reporting features that closely align with your own key performance indicators (KPIs). If you’ve already got reporting and analytics programs in place, see if they can integrate with the contact center you’re considering. In most cases, having all of that information in one place can supercharge their effectiveness.
Finally, you need to make sure that whatever contact center you end up with complies with the data security standards for your industry. While most omnichannel contact center vendors are reputable, you should double-check to make sure that whoever you’re considering has an established reputation for managing data safely and securely.
Depending on what industry you work in—and the kind of customer data you collect—you may need to go with an industry-specific omnichannel contact center, such as one created specifically for healthcare or finance. This is because both personal health data and banking information are sensitive enough to require extra care and security.
Whichever contact center you go with, you should also make sure that the vendor regularly audits and upgrades its software. You may also want to see if it offers options for secure data storage, data encryption, and role-based access controls (so that certain people can only access the data that’s relevant to their particular roles). This will help you keep customer data safe while protecting your company from possible liability issues and privacy lawsuits.