What Does Your Service Cloud Partner Know About Omnichannel, Multichannel, Digital Channels and Media?


MAY 2016


Recently, we published a whitepaper called “12 Questions to Ask your Service Cloud Implementation Partner.”  The fourth question our contact center consulting experts suggest is what does the partner know about omnichannel communications such as email, web forums, chat, mobile and social?

As more and more communication mechanisms are being created and adopted by customers, it has become imperative that customer service and the Service Cloud integrate these various channels to provide a seamless customer experience. In the ‘Age of the Customer’, consumers have come to expect omnichannel communications and the expertise required to implement them correctly with the CRM must come from your partner.  CRM implementation partners who have primarily focused on the SFA or marketing automation subsets of CRM may not have the necessary expertise.

You may have noticed the title of this post does not exactly match the question we ask in the whitepaper.  Back when I started at Eventus, the most commonly used industry term for the capability we are discussing today was multichannel, which typically meant that ability to communicate across multiple channels beyond traditional voice.  As the industry then moved beyond basic channel support to more advanced capabilities such as seamless customer experience and 360-degree view, vendors started using the term omnichannel to differentiate from competitors who only provided multichannel.

While all this was going on in the CRM world, telephony vendors were talking about adding new media types and going multi-media.  Finally, the world outside the contact center industry has adopted the term digital channels.  Unlike multichannel and omnichannel, digital channels has meaning beyond contact center insiders – such as the C-level executives who get asked to sign off on purchases of these capabilities.

For B2C companies, omnichannel is no longer a nice-to-have.  It is a must have.  Countless surveys have shown consumers prefer modern digital channels such as the web, chat, mobile and social to picking up the phone and talking live to a person, especially if that person is somewhere far away.  For B2B companies, we are also seeing omnichannel becoming a higher priority because more of their customers are millennials who also prefer using the modern digital communications channels with which they have grown up.

What does ‘seamless customer experience’ mean from an omnichannel perspective?  It means (a) customers can use whatever digital channel they prefer to get support and (b) they can use multiple communications channels if necessary as they work with their service provider to get their case resolved. From a CRM perspective, a key enabler for providing such a seamless experience, beyond support for the specific channels themselves, is the ability to provide agents with a ‘360-degree view’ of all communications with a customer, regardless of channel.

Implementing and integrating these communication channels to provide the desired seamless customer experience and 360-degree view for agents requires the expertise of a partner who understands how these channels work, how to set them up and how to optimize them for internal use and the overall customer experience. Furthermore, the partner needs to understand how service levels vary by channel, and how to set up the CRM system so you can move agents effectively and efficiently between work queues.

With digital channels, operational issues can significantly impact.  For several years now, CRM, telephony, and workforce management vendors have all been proselytizing the benefits of the so-called ‘universal agent’ that handles cases across all digital channels.  In reality, no single class of vendors, whether that be CRM, telephony or WFM, provides everything necessary to support universal agents working off universal queues.  Building such a capability requires the expertise of a partner that not only understands CRM, but also knows telephony and WFM, as working universal queuing requires all three.  Furthermore, we have seen many situations where treating channels as skills groups with dedicated queues makes more sense than going fully universal.

If you would like to learn more about the other questions you should be asking your Service Cloud implementation partner, click the image below to download a free copy of the whitepaper.

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