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“Customer experience” is becoming the buzz phrase that ate the contact center. It makes sense to want your customers to be able to do more than simply “contact” your enterprise. The focus needs to be on what it’s like for customers once they make that contact. It doesn’t have to be a fancy experience, just the right one for each customer at the moment of contact.

And the technology that’s rising to meet the customer experience challenge is “omnichannel,” the blending of all the potential media for reaching the enterprise contact agent, and the ability for that agent to respond and collaborate with the customer across any and all those channels.

In an Enterprise Connect webinar this week, Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, presented results from her firm’s most recent benchmark study relating to contact centers, including some significant findings on customer experience and omnichannel. The big takeaway: Next to growing revenue, improving the customer experience is the most important business goal for digital transformation initiatives.

When it comes to using omnichannel to respond to that need, Nemertes found a mixed bag. On the plus side, a plurality of respondents in Nemertes’ research -- 42.6% -- reported that their agents support multiple channels, while just 25.6% said their agents support single channels and another 28.7% said the situation varies. The data suggests that, overall, a majority of enterprises have agents supporting multiple channels at least some of the time.

But agents can support multiple channels without the enterprise necessarily committing to a truly integrated, omnichannel strategy. On this latter point, Nemertes found that 38.6% of respondents haven’t considered omnichannel and have no plans to do so -- while the exact same percentage were either using omnichannel already (15.7%) or planned to do so by the end of this year (22.9%). Another 20.2% were considering omnichannel but had made no specific plans or commitments.

The primary inhibitors to considering omnichannel include cost/lack of budget; having disjointed systems; and not having sufficient resources to implement. Additionally, some respondents said they’re waiting to implement omnichannel as part of a larger refresh.

Our webinar followed up Robin’s presentation with a talk by Rob Caro, senior business process manager at Vivid Seats, a Chicago-based online ticket broker. Vivid Seats has moved aggressively to implement omnichannel technology via the cloud-based NICE inContact service that the company uses.

Omnichannel has been important for Vivid Seats in large part because the ticket-selling business is so time-sensitive -- once the event is over, the tickets are worthless, so it can’t afford to lose any potential customers to a bad or ineffective experience with the contact center, Rob explained.

One factor he emphasized: A migration to omnichannel is likelier to succeed if it represents continuity on the platform that the enterprise has been using. Since session flows are constantly changing and evolving with your customers’ preferences and needs, it’s essential to know your tools inside and out, he said: “Mastery or really high knowledge of these tools is not going to happen overnight.”

Rob also called it “absolutely essential” for product and engineering teams to be paired closely together to ensure a seamless and effective omnichannel integration -- and it’s also a must to be able to integrate your contact center and CRM systems seamlessly.

You can see and hear a replay of the omnichannel webinar featuring Robin Gareiss, of Nemertes, and Rob Caro, of Vivid Seats, and can download their slides here.