Time to Ditch Omnichannel?

By Peter Bernstein
31 Aug 2018

We live in an age where because of their preponderance, ubiquity and accessibility words not only really matter, they matter more than ever both good and bad. In fact, it is why context is now as important as content in virtually all types of digital interactions. It explains why real-time speech analytics, for instance, has become “mission critical” to the overall customer experience.

Words matter in human interactions—customer and agent exchanges as the prime example of how, where, why, when and with whom. They also matter in the way our industry describes and markets itself. Think about how on the business side of the customer experience space we have gone from call centers to contact centers to customer interaction centers. In the process, we have described the expansion of paths for such interactions as going from a few discrete channels to multichannel and 365 touchpoints and currently to omnichannel.

This progression in customer interaction jargon has been faster than that of what was known as “shared space computing” in the 1970s to “hosted applications services” to the CLOUD. In some ways it amplifies how the more things change the more they remain the same. After all, wasn’t Centrex back in the 1960s nothing more than a dedicated shared space computer hosting what literally became hundreds of network services just the early implementation of CLOUD?

As a member of LinkedIn’s Chief Marketing Officer Network Group, I recently received a link to a report from CCW (Customer Contact Week) Digital, which bills itself as “The World’s Largest Global Online Communication for Customer Contact Professionals.” Titled, “Say Goodbye to Omnichannel, Say Hello to Omnimoment,” the report by Kenneth Haskins, Account Manager, Delegate Acquisition at IQPC, is illuminating.

The details are worth a full read. Here is the essential reality of the research.

“CCW Digital’s annual consumer survey reveals that adult consumers from all demographics still prefer calling for support. They want assistance from live agents…Nearly 90% of customers reveal that they call because they believe it is the best way to get a fast resolution to their problem….”

You read correctly, Customers don’t trust digital channels and don’t find that they make their life easier. It turns out they initiate interactions, not surprisingly, because they care more about outcomes than channels. Despite their problems with individuals who many times are not well trained, have the best tools or are not empowered to make decisions, they still believe a person is the best and fastest means to obtain satisfactory outcomes. 

The report is careful to not denigrate any of the channels that are not real-time voice interactions with another human. In fact, it argues that when properly integrated and used smartly such channels are invaluable to enhancing the customer experience and improving resolution times by making them more efficient and effective.

The trick as they see it is in what they call “Moment Maximization.” In short, to paraphrase their observations, when a business transcends evaluating a customer experience on a channel-by-channel basis to evaluating the entire customer interaction journey in the context of full appreciation of every means and moments of customer interactions in conjunction with why customers chose to interact in the first place, they are “constructing an omnimoment experience.” 

Get the picture? It is about making the totality of customer experiences from contact to resolution outcome-centric. This leads to a conclusion that needs to be contemplated: “If organizations identify those desired outcomes, they can reverse engineer an experience that is more fruitful and impactful for customers.”

Is it time to ditch “Omnichannel?” My prejudice is, YES.  Omnichannel to me is a descriptor for the use of technology. It is not about outcomes. Is “Omnimoment” the term that will supplant it? Only time will tell.

I leave it up to the marketing pros as to formulating the best semantic path forward. However, it does seem that just as the word and conceptualization of CLOUD has made technology more user friendly and acceptable (something transpiring with the normalization and mass market’s growing comfort with IoT), it appears the time is ripe in the customer contact business we need to noodle how to do the same.

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