Omni-channel â A Tipping Point? Maybe. Decision Point? Definitely! | DMA

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Omni-channel â A Tipping Point? Maybe. Decision Point? Definitely!

I came across Forbes’ Dan Schawbel’s article on Workplace Trends for 2015 through a Teleperformance blog. In the blog Teleperformance’s Dax Lopes pick up on Schawbel’s warning about the growing skills gap and the linked expansion of automation and outsourcing. Drawing on these trends Lopes highlights that the customer management challenge “tracking who is saying what about your brand or products, and when, and why, is already complex enough. Trying to engage with those same customers across the same channels they are using and trying to connect all those channels together so you have some knowledge and insight is getting harder”.

Undeniably true and there can be few organisations, of any scale, which aren’t having to face that challenge. When customers (and prospects) can and do choose to interact with you across multiple channels - in an unpredictable fashion, with elevated expectations of the speed and quality of your engagement - there’s only one response that’s not open to you. You can’t afford to ignore these trends and expectations. If you do, customers and prospects will either start to ignore you, or – worse still – voice their frustration to the wider world available to them through social media.

So, this isn’t simply an operational problem for ‘customer service’, it’s a game-changer for the whole organisation – sales, marketing, fulfilment and billing. Lopes (who works for one of the world’s biggest business process outsourcing service providers, so is allowed a degree of what we might call “solution bias”) sees the challenge as creating a tipping point. A tipping point “where outsourcing the business processes associated with the customer experience will no longer be a decision that is deliberated over”. In order to maintain control and insight in order to successfully deliver a positive customer experience in a changing, omni-channel world, he says it will become “essential to get a customer experience expert to manage this part of your business”.

He may well be right. In the UK brands like Marks and Spencer, O2 and John Lewis have chosen to outsource great swathes of people, processes and technology to third parties in order to address the customer experience challenge. In reality, though, these decisions aren’t solely driven by a desire to capture that elusive omni-channel customer experience expertise. Often, the business cases for outsourcing are underpinned by a desire to avoid repeated capital investment and change management costs, as much as by a desire to avoid customer management operational complexity.

However, outsourcing will not always deliver the desired results. Customers, their engagement and value to companies are becoming ever-more unpredictable and subject to change. The challenge Lopes described can be addressed by partnering with specialist suppliers, but the ability to embrace change and capitalise from on it is reliant on the client organisation knowing what it wants to achieve and the kind of customer experience that will help deliver its goals. The role and contribution of the “customer experience expert” is increasingly vital for organisations, as external pressures and demands grow. There are areas of operational and technical expertise that it may not be sensible for an organisation to develop in-house, but some things shouldn’t be outsourced.

Lopes is right in saying that many organisations are approaching a tipping point for their customer management goals and capabilities, but the direction they will take is not pre-defined. External experts may prove invaluable in helping articulate and communicate the brand, its values and tone of voice, but the strategic way forward for an organisation’s customer management has to come from within.

To help us tailor our future content, the DMA Contact Centres & Telemarketing Council is keen to hear more about your thoughts and challenges in this area. If you would like to join the conversation please use the discussion box below or email georgina.lippa@dma.org.uk

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