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Cloud and the era of the omnichannel

August 27, 2015

Andrew Milroy   

Andrew Milroy leads Frost & Sullivan’s APAC ICT practice and is based in Singapore

Cloud contact centres are increasingly gaining acceptance as enterprises see the benefits that cloud technology can offer in managing customer experience, with the well-documented benefits of scalability, flexibility, and a lower total cost of ownership.

Furthermore, cloud technology is becoming the key platform to enable transformational change in the way we engage with our customers and each other, with two developments driving this transformation:

  • The use of mobile devices as the first means of engaging with enterprise as well as with our friends and families
  • The emergence of the “omnichannel” which integrates contextual intelligence with the ability to offer a common experience across all customer touch points.

Today, the first form of interaction that your company has with a customer is likely to be from a mobile device. And more importantly, this interaction is likely to come via an app. Companies operating in sectors such as finance, travel, utilities, hospitality, retail, and transport among others are shifting much of their customer engagement to apps. For example, more than half of retail banking customers in some mature markets now have their bank’s app on their smartphone.

As face-to-face and voice interactions are increasingly complemented by customer engagements using mobile devices and applications, “mobile first” is no longer a nice-to-have, it is an essential approach. Companies need to make their customer engagement platforms mobile first and start with the assumption that mobile is the preferred collaboration tool of their users.

The fact enterprises are engaging with customers on so many channels poses a challenge. Customers need a consistent experience across all touch points, which means enterprises must have a clear omnichannel strategy.

For a true omnichannel experience, data is gathered from one touch point and can be used in real time to enhance customer experience using other touch points. As well as creating a fully integrated customer experience, an omnichannel engagement strategy also recognises the context of an interaction and enhances the overall customer experience accordingly.

This sounds straightforward but few enterprises have succeeded in integrating multiple customer touch points and few offer a true omnichannel experience. Organisations must break down internal silos first. Pockets of data that sit in various departments need to be made available for every customer interaction.

It is for this reason that cloud based contact centres are critical to enterprises that wish to address the changing ways in which their customers engage with them. They can make the process of integrating multiple customer touch points much easier and more cost effective than cumbersome on-premise alternatives.

In other words, cloud technology will be the platform for the omnichannel. Cloud-based contact centres allow companies to rapidly provision services to mobile devices and make it much easier to adopt a mobile first approach. They can help enterprises manage costs by charging for what is actually used rather than demanding enormous capital investment.

Ultimately, they offer agility to an organisation to engage with customers in the way the customer expects, and is beginning to demand, in a cost effective way.