Getting value from omnichannel customer communications

Businesses are well aware that they need an effective omnichannel customer communications programme to remain competitive. Yet without clear strategy, businesses may end up ploughing time and money into campaigns that aren’t going to give them the results they need. This is why it is important that organisations assess how they will measure business value from their outbound engagement strategy.

Outbound communication has gone through a shift in terms of how companies engage with their customers. The prevalence of highly cost-effective channels such as SMS, e-mail, and even social media, has led businesses away from focussing solely on voice technology. Now, the key is to communicate with each customer through the best channel for both them and for the business.

What makes for an effective omnichannel outbound strategy
Omnichannel means making best use of all available channels to achieve the best business outcome. Naturally, you should know your customers and your services well enough to determine who you should target, and with what offers or messages. If you contact them at the wrong time, with the wrong message, or via the wrong channel, they may well ignore the communication, or worse, start to ignore your company. Wasting live agent calls on customers who won’t welcome the outreach will cost the business money and potentially affect your brand equity. The key is to use customer tiering and targeting to ensure that outbound communication produces results by tailoring offers and contact methods based closely on the customer’s needs and preferences.

Using agents effectively
The benefits of such a strategy can be pivotal, as it can hugely improve agent efficiency and value. Any business that uses a contact centre knows how expensive agents can be and how tiny changes in their use can have a huge impact on ROI. A smart strategy that targets customers effectively means agents spend time on the phone more productively. Yet it isn’t enough to just work on targeting offers more effectively. One of the key aspects of any omnichannel outbound strategy should be ensuring better agent utilisation through greater automation. Automating channels such as e-mail, SMS or even social media and mail campaigns will mean the business can get better results without spending vast sums of money on extra live agent contact centre resources. An organisation can ensure that it only uses live agents where the ROI will be strongest.

Improving efficiency
Omnichannel communications can also deliver strong ROI by protecting businesses against unnecessary resource use. The National Health Service in the UK, for example, currently wastes £1 billion every year on missed appointments. Omnichannel outbound communications – for example, having automated text reminders or emails sent to patients when they have an upcoming appointment, to which they can quickly reply to confirm or rearrange – can play a huge role in reducing missed appointments, therefore reducing the chances of wastage. This also has a wider knock-on effect as, by automating this process, administrative staff are freed up to focus on in-clinic human interactions and higher-value work.

Cultivating customer satisfaction
An additional benefit that businesses can see through effective omnichannel communications is a greater level of customer satisfaction and loyalty – another measure of ROI. We all lead busy lives, and customers receiving calls they don’t want, or being hassled with inappropriate offers via text messages, is only likely to annoy them. On the other hand, if they are contacted appropriately, in a way that is perceived to provide a useful service or otherwise add value – such as a package tracking service or notifications when a particular shop is unexpectedly closed – this can help to drive customer loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, and foster a positive brand image.

It is clear that having a strong omnichannel outbound communications strategy is critical if organisations are to get the most out of customer interactions. Businesses must ensure they have the right systems and skills in place to allow them to contact customers in the way they wish to be communicated with. Combining channels as they are needed to communicate a promotion or service will not just help to maximise the effectiveness of a campaign and save money, but also build trust and loyalty with the customer – and the value of which cannot be underestimated.

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