In part 1 of Omnichannel and Islands of Data in Your Contact Center, I covered the definition of omnichannel and differences between omnichannel and multichannel. We covered some history and how this problem first surfaced in the 90’s with previous-generation platforms. If you missed the live presentation on Part 1 and Part 2 of “Omnichannel and Islands of Data in Your Contact Center,” check out the video of the presentation below.
Now let’s continue with how history repeats, and how to navigate it.
Flash forward 20 years and we now have open systems, cloud-native applications and web services connecting them all together. At least that’s the theory, right? Mostly they are but in many ways we’re back to the same challenge of the late 90’s as we risk creating new islands of data.
Yes, there’s still risk involved with isolated islands of data. While you, a business unit or someone in the organization may be chomping at the bit to get newer-ish channels like SMS, video or social enabled, buyer beware! Let’s say you run off and buy an SMS point solution because, oh I don’t know, your CRM vendor says it integrates seamlessly with their platform. How could that be a bad thing? The CRM vendor says it’s easy to turn on, and it probably is, and it will also tie the data with the rest of the customer journey data. What could possibly be wrong with that?
Ask your contact center manager or whomever is responsible for resource scheduling and forecasting, hopefully before you pull the trigger with the CRM vendor. The question is how will they measure agent activity for SMS, or social, or channel-du-jour, comparatively across the other channels for purpose of scheduling and forecasting? That’s the risk with putting some channels into one platform, such as the source of customer journey data instead of following a design pattern to first consider keeping a new channel in the contact center platform.
How to Navigate
Your contact center platform may not have the channel capability yet, especially if it is a cloud-native platform. When doing an evaluation, whether it’s turning on a new channel with your existing contact center platform or evaluating your next one, make sure to ask if the channel is available and if it’s supported for Routing, Reporting and WFM. You’ll end up with one of the following: seamless routing and reporting if the channel is baked into your contact center platform, some integration (there’s that word again) if you purchase a point solution, or possibly a less than robust solution if the channel exists within the platform but still at a minimum viable product (MVP) stage.
One question to consider is around the resources taking interactions on the new channel. Are the same reps or agents handling existing channels going to get the new one as well or is this an isolated group? If it’s isolated, a new island might not be a bad idea, particularly if it’s a path of least resistance. If the same group is already handling the other channels through the contact center platform, I’d probably see if you could put the new channel there instead.
Is it ok to introduce a new island? Sure, as long as you made an informed decision. You may have options for your new channel with a point solution, all-in-one contact center platform or CRM, ERP (etc.) platforms. Whichever route you take, there may be some impact requiring integration (customization) effort, which is commonly referred to today as “technical debt.” If you’re taking that on, make sure it’s to support your market differentiation, your “secret sauce,” if you will. That’s good investment. Research Gartner Bimodal IT for more info on when to invest in customization. Just don’t get “sold,” by only talking with one of your vendors.
Investigate options during your due diligence when considering new channels for your omnichannel contact center strategy. If you need help navigating your decision, maybe consider engaging someone who doesn’t have a dog in the race? Regardless if you get help or go it alone, make sure you dig deep enough on Routing, Reporting and WFM while considering the agent experience to ensure you make the highest value choice for your organization. New island or not, that’s how you win!
About our Guest Contributor
Rick McGlinchey is a Management Consultant with 23 years experience in Contact Center and Enterprise Software. He helps organizations small and large improve their customer experience including companies like Eli Lilly, Cardinal Health, Abbott Labs, JPMorganChase, and Ceridian.
Rick also provides C-level Advisory and Program Management for The Hard Things, especially if you need someone “who doesn’t have a dog in the race.” You can reach him through CPI or via LinkedIn.