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Article 3 min read

Omnichannel vs. the other way

By Andrew Gori

Last updated August 8, 2018

If you’ve followed Marisa’s journey with Frozen Outdoor, as well as how—and why—the company implemented omnichannel customer service, then you might be wondering: what’s it like for agents on the front lines? After all, transforming the customer experience requires not only thinking about the end-user experience, but also changing the way agents work, and the software tools they use to improve workflows, automate repetitive tasks, and most importantly, offer a unified view of the customer. The days of swivel chair management across fragmented, siloed systems are over.

To understand omnichannel support, it’s helpful to look at how an organisation that doesn’t use an omnichannel solution would attempt to provide the kind of service customers expect with a team that does.

Context is everything

Like most customers today, Marisa expects the companies she patronises to accommodate her as she moves from channel to channel. In a traditional organisation that lacks omnichannel’s singular view of the customer, the first agent to connect with Marisa might have a general idea of the issue but absolutely no idea whether the customer journey included attempts at self-service or even her purchase history. Most customers use 3 or more channels to engage with a company. Agents need to quickly understand who that person is (what they bought, which content they read, things they’ve searched for) before they even respond. But in this example, the agent has none of this information. They don’t know why the customer has reached out in the past or what other channels they’ve use. It’s a frustrating experience for everyone.

Now compare that with agents working with an omnichannel solution—not only will they have a clear picture what Marisa was doing before reaching out (such as visiting a help center page or navigating away from a shopping cart), they’ll be able to quickly access her customer profile, including her preferred channels. That wealth of information drastically reduces the amount of time the agent needs to assess the situation, and Marisa doesn’t have to explain the entire arc of her experience.

In Marisa’s case, her busy workday meant needing to shift from an initial chat interaction to a phone call an hour later (via a helpful proactive text sent by the agent to set up the call). Now what happens if that agent’s shift ends before Marisa is ready to take the call? Besides the danger of the call itself not happening, as well as Marisa’s irritation with having to repeat herself, the new agent essentially has to start from scratch.

That is rework at both the agent’s and customer’s expense. For the agent, it’s a terrible experience—not only are they more likely to be dealing with irritated customers, they’re getting through fewer tickets.

The true value of customer support

Team flexibility

Omnichannel does more than meet customer expectations or improve the agent experience—it empowers companies to organise and dynamically alter teams to fit their available resources and customer base. For example, a company just getting started might opt for a dedicated model where agents work specific channels or types of tickets. On the other hand, a company like Frozen Outdoor might choose a, shared model in which agents handle multiple channels. This is where omnichannel tends to shine.


Finally, many customer service professionals feel that their current technology doesn’t help them do a good job. Ever try to fix something that requires a Phillips screwdriver, and all you have handy is a flathead? Agents who don’t have a unified view of the customer—or who have to navigate between multiple tools—spend far too much time trying to “make it work.” With omnichannel, those agents can focus on what they were hired to do: help customers like Marisa quickly and efficiently.

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