Omnichannel: Say Goodbye to Call-Centers

Of all the business experiences, the customer service and shopping experiences are the most decisive. “How did it go?”, is the question in the minds of companies at the end of that meeting that can initiate brand loyalties or destroy all future ties. We are so interested that every customer service department includes surveys following a commercial exchange to monitor our performance.

In this environment, the current competition for loyalty and creating these loyalties has made the concept of “contact center” evolve to an omnichannel system, replacing the old concept of a call-center that focuses on telephone service only. “Strategy is an explosive component when we put it together with the contact center concept, and that’s what we have dedicated ourselves to over the years,” says Hebé Lugo, president of the consultancy and contact center Strategic Minds, which has implemented omnichannel systems in Latin America. “An omnichannel center needs the technology, the people, the training, and the strategy. Or, at least, that’s what we offer at Strategic Minds.”

What's wrong with a call center? Let's start with the concept itself: it refers to phone calls, and thus conceives communication as an exchange of messages using a single channel, in this case the telephone. We can explain it like this:

 Disadvantages of a call-center system

  • Long waiting times
  • Only one way to communicate with the customer
  • Expensive to implement
  • Outsourcing implies a cost for a traditional and limited service

 The omnichannel revolution

“The differential value of an omnichannel system is the quality of its people,” explains Azalea García, human resources specialist at Strategic Minds. “What we have is personnel with a much more sophisticated technical level and knowledge that allows us to adapt the service to the specific expectation of the client”.

It so happens that a traditional call center is a backward system.

At first glance, traditional call centers are deeply rooted in our consumer culture. A 2018 study showed that there were about 7,400 call centers in the United States alone, with companies such as Alorica, AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Wells Fargo as their main implementers.

Likewise, Latin America has been ranked among the “three great regions” of call-centers, although far below India —known as “the call-center of the world” due to the enormous amount of outsourced services that it offers from this type.

But the trend is receding: a user experience survey (known as UX or user experience) published in 2020 by Aberdeen sfound a 69% increase in the use of chat as part of its communication with customers, an increase more than double in eight years.

And, as we already mentioned, implementing a traditional call center can be complex and expensive. Likewise, not all businesses have the capacity to have one, so the option is to outsource the call-center service, either for customer service or for sales (the two most common types of call-center). Does it make sense to outsource a service that no longer meets the requirements of today's consumer?

 How the omnichannel works

Chat, emails, social networks. Customers search Google, compare prices, and initiate a purchase. Or they see something of interest on social media –such as a sponsored post on Instagram– and seek to get in touch. Here the problem begins, since “most (companies) still operate websites, mobile applications and physical stores in isolation,” says Rightpoint in its study Omnichannel is Growing Up.

Let’s put ourselves in a customer’s shoes. Where is he or she connecting from? Using laptops, tablets, or smartphones? The omnichannel offer seeks to provide the same experience from any channel that the client uses to contact us, always in a unified way.

But let’s not confuse omnichannel with multichannel. “Omni” is a Latin prefix that implies “everyone”, and by joining it with “channel”, we mean that the experience is unified. In the case of “multichannels”, the services run in parallel. This happens, for example, if we go to a physical store that has a separate sales service on the Web: that is a multichannel.

The omnichannel experience allows a user to select, say, an electric guitar on the Web from a music store, then go to the physical store to test it before completing their purchase using their smartphone. Or buy a vehicle, or maybe visualize an apartment online before renting it or scheduling a leisure trip. Omnichannel systems are now available for every need.

“The service we provide is of a very high quality,” explains Azalea García. “The vision of omnichannel is that the quality of the personnel and the technical knowledge they have is more directed to the experience they are going to work with. For example, in health services or in technology areas. At Strategic Minds we focus on transmitting that culture and being very focused on the service that our workers are going to provide.”

Omnichannel: response in times of COVID

In these times of the crisis caused by COVID-19, it makes even more sense to implement omnichannel systems. Let's look at some direct benefits:

Benefits of an omnichannel system

  • Reduction of operating costs
  • Customer loyalty
  • Improved perception of your brand
  • Optimization of resources
  • Increase in the quality of the service provided

From small personal or family businesses to start-ups, SMEs and large companies, all migrated between 2020-2021 to digital interactions due to the pandemic. This has led companies such as Inditex –owner of Zara– to increase digital sales by 74% in the first half of 2020, also announcing omnichannel modalities such as Click & Go, Click & Find and Click & Try.

“Today, consumers expect to buy on the computer, the phone, or standing in a store and choose delivery home, in the same store, in a predetermined location or in the trunk of their car,” explains Carlos Cordon, a researcher on the matter. “A salesperson who cannot do this loses between 10 and 30% of his sales."

Like all great changes, the omnichannel revolution requires sharpening objectives, and many of the functions of an organization such as IT, supply chain, marketing, stores, and sales force. It is a path of success that can redefine not only success but even the survival of your business against competitors.

Taking the first step is on your side.

About Strategic Minds

Strategic Minds, established in 2011 by Hebé Lugo in Puerto Rico, is a consulting firm specialized in marketing and sales strategies that provides ommichannel services in Latin America and the United States. Strategic Minds’ Multi-Channel Contact Center staff have extensive experience employing strategies to increase our clients’ sales, helping them make smart decisions on their growth journey. Strategic Minds is responsible for implementing improvements in your business, operations, culture, marketing, sales, and all areas where sustained growth and a profitable operation can be generated.

About Hebé Lugo

Hebé Lugo has more than twenty years of experience and has established itself as a recognized leader in strategy matters, successfully executing its vision of creating a consulting firm that meets the needs of medium-sized companies, assisting together with the Strategic Minds team in the transformation of its processes and structure to compete in the global market.

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