Omnichannel – the perfection that is possible to achieve
Time is key in the customer service, regardless of which side of the receiver or laptop screen you are on. Service also means many other challenges that are constantly growing. I described them in the article “Omnichannel in customer service.” Omnichannel is a service model helping you meet rising demands, thereby systematically building positive customer experience and creating a friendly work environment.
This is difficult but possible to be done if you use a well-proven tool such as Omnichannel on the Salesforce Platform available in Service Cloud. I am a Salesforce architect, I have designed the implementation of this solution numerous times, and I know it really works.
How to prepare for the implementation? These are my experiences with the project.
Omnichannel – the tool you will not implement at an instant
The Omnichannel approach is a revolution in service quality. Yet, the implementation itself is an evolution rather than a revolution. In order to ensure the customer real and full omnichannel experiences, you cannot use shortcuts. Based on my practice, I have selected 3 stages in the evolution of customer service:
The transactional service takes place at the order, that is, the transaction level. During the communication, the customer is not identified as a person (first and last name), uses the order number. At this service level, the customer receives coherent information concerning one ordering process in one channel. This is usually the mailing channel.
Transactional service is, in a way, a minimal, basic scope. It happens that companies skip this stage and instantly offer customers a higher standard. However, if you start from the transactional stage, then, in order to move further, you need to:
- Identify all the sources of sale, e.g., ERP system for orders in the physical and online stores.
- Set the information sources about the customer (also about potential customers), e.g., newsletter subscriptions.
- Identify all the contact channels used by the service department.
When customer profiles are taken from the transactional data, it is possible to communicate with them, that is, the profile service. At this stage, the customer is usually identified in several systems, and they have their own profile in each of them. Then customers’ identifications are their contact information, e.g., telephone number or email address.
How to move to the next stage from the profile service level? You need to:
- Design the rules of the customer’s identification for every source of sale and to select profiles.
- Fill in and enrich profiles with information from the source systems.
- Ensure the integration among the systems so that they exchanged information about the customers.
- Limit the service of the customer’s profiles to the smallest number of tools.
At the omnichannel stage, thanks to unifying the information, the customer is not just the order number or email address. They are identified as a person. The identification happens automatically, regardless of whether the customer contacts us via phone, email, or chat. The information about customers and their recent history is available to every agent. There is no need to acquire the same information about the customer when they contact the company once again.
How to start?
I have described the most frequently occurring, typical stages of the customer service evolution and universal steps one needs to take to transition to the omnichannel approach. The tool that helps achieve this goal is Salesforce. This technology provides the highest quality of customer service. It places customers in the center and builds the world around them, thereby addressing their needs.
Salesforce does not enforce any rigid rules, nor does it set limits. This tool that scales up with business helps build the service process from any stage. We begin the cooperation with customers by determining at what stage their service is in their company and where it needs to be in a specific time.
Such a flexible approach is provided by Service Cloud – one of ready, Salesforce box modules, dedicated for the customer service department. Service Cloud offers many built-in, ready functionalities, which also include the user interface, designed for optimal simultaneous service of many channels. It also features a module to manage multichannel work, and it is called Omnichannel.
The perspective of working on such a tool allows building positive energy in the entire service department. Macros, email templates, knowledge base, and quick texts are just a few conveniences available for consultants. To use them, implementing a few small configurations with the adjustment of standard settings to the specificity of a given company is enough. As a result, valuable minutes are saved, and the service instantly becomes more convenient and effective.
If a company begins the cooperation with us and is at the first, transactional stage of the customer service, we propose to initiate Salesforce as quickly as possible after we define the way of identifying the customer. It is an essential step, because it forms a foundation of the contact idea in the omnichannel model, that is, with the client identified as a specific person.
My experience shows that the implementation of the minimal valuable product (MVP) that provides the business value can take just a few weeks.
What happens next after the initial implementation is completed?
When a solid foundation is created in the form of the customer base, we can start launching an individual contact channel in a simple way. I suggest starting from the email, the channel available from the box, thereby not requiring integration. The only step needed to launch this channel is transitioning messages to the Service Cloud inboxes. Practice shows that this channel proves to be effective at the initial stage due to its popularity. This is also a good starting point to implement the support department to work with a new tool.
Chats are the next group of channels, which can be moved to Service Cloud, without requiring many resources. It concerns both the chat on the company site, e.g., the internet store, as well as the Facebook chat. The Live Agent in Service Cloud is a ready chat solution that can be configured with regards to the specificity of a given company, and chats that have been used in it so far can be integrated into it. The integration with the Facebook Messenger may seem to be complex, and if it is to be designed from scratch, then that is what it would be like. However, thanks to the ready integration built by Salesforce, activating this channel is also a matter of a proper configuration.
The phone is the last important communication channel that is often used by customers. Hence, Salesforce (thanks to the AppExchange application store) offers ready solutions, which integrate many local and global telephone centers.
The order of switching on the channels is optional and depends on the priority in a specific case. It is essential to choose an experienced implementation partner who, together with customers, has gone through this path many times and is able to prepare an optimal action plan. Such a partner knows the tool and its extensive possibilities and knows how to adjust them to a specific case.
Integrating information sources about the customer has a significant meaning for the implementation success. An experienced partner can support this process. Agents need to have all the key information handy such as orders, warehouse stocks, loyalty cards. In other cases, a full-sized omnichannel service will not be possible.
During the consecutive implementations, I think of Salesforce as a technology used by both; the customer and the agent.
What requirements do the company customers, we realize the project for, have? How to minimize agents’ challenges in this specific case to achieve the ultimate omnichannel service level?
There are tools that help measure the implementation effects on both levels and achieve individual business goals that were initially set.
My next article will treat of measuring these tools.
- Salesforce Architect | Salesforce Team Manager
He supports customers in tailoring technological solutions to business goals. With his 10 year experience in implementing IT solutions for customers in Poland and abroad, he participates in carrying out projects at every stage – starting from sales, then offerings, and topping his work up with configuration and implementation. He has 13 Salesforce certificates under his belt.