Red Riding Hood goes Omni-channel, now all the wolves can catch her whenever they want – any time, any place, anywhere.

Customers are not wolves and businesses aren’t Red Riding Hood but the sentiment is the same – customers need to make contact with your business anytime, anyplace anyhow and the technology stack must enable connectivity as a single virtual organisation and allow it to be in touch with it’s value chain. This is best achieved by a single multi-channel communications system (MCCS)

In a 2012 opinion survey of UK Contact Centre Leaders, 70% of UK contact centres said that the best technology model for them to handle multiple communications channels was a single multi-channel communications system. However, just 9% had actually implemented one. Then in 2013 the adoption rates of single MCCS had jumped from 9% to 27%.

Now in 2015 when 124 respondents in senior positions at UK-based contact centres and organisations with dedicated customer service departments were asked about their needs and desire to adopt a single MCCS, these numbers remain unchanged. The same survey asked what was stopping the adoption of a MCCS and the reasons given were:

  • 40% – We’ve already invested in solutions to handle different channels – we can’t start over with one system to handle them.
  • 24% – I can see the benefits, but senior management don’t see it as a priority
  • 23% – Our primary channel is phone – there is no point of integrating others
  • 16% – It sounds expensive
  • 14% – we’re not sure where to start

It is staggering how many could not justify with reasons associated with business outcome opportunities.

Surveys are useful for identifying the pain but not the cause and don’t really address the CIO’s role and the strategic outlook to where the contact centre fits into a digital/ omni channel contact strategy.

In my experience, Telco’s have been front runners in adopting a single MCCS and as a result they have embraced the benefits this brings. Other sectors have much to learn from the Telco MCCS journeys.

The I.T department is often the obstacle to having a single MCCS in many cases this stems from a historical trend of fragmented IT strategies on which corporate contact centre infrastructures and systems are based. There has been a lack of joined up thinking by many CIOs mainly due to the lack of understanding of what a fully integrated solution looks like from a business perspective. Quite often they have limited understanding of the challenges the business transformation / Contact Centre Managers face from: contact centre recruitment; how procurement policies and their supporting systems fit into workforce management planning; how a lack of integration between marketing campaign systems and the WFM/WFO process results in the work force adherence gap; challenges with staff retention and impact of systems on average handling time to what this means to the customer experience. I have witnessed numerous clients that used multiple systems for each call when only dealing with a single channel where salutation and customer ID &V data was replicated more than once in a single call (not unusual in organisations of low maturity even if they have impressive revenues).

This trend of a fragmented approach to building the corporate contact centre infrastructure and hence operating model (the latter due to constraints of the technology the business has been given by I.T) has created a huge challenge in obtaining meaningful operational data and an even bigger challenge on getting a single view of the customer. These organisations will lose ground against their competitors that have a strategic infrastructure using single MCCS.

Organisations on a single MCCS are now a step away from becoming an Omni-Channel organisation probably resulting from a joined up digital strategy catering for customers that have embraced the digital revolution thus allowing their customers to make the ‘Martini Contact’ – any time any place any-where. These organisations will now be collecting and seamlessly integrating the correct business and technical data to support their contact centre managers in the areas of: procurement, HR, work force management, operational reporting and CRM where there is a true single view of their customer. Those that have already reached the required level of maturity will be primed to becoming a Borderless Enterprise once they have designed their Borderless Enterprise culture thus enabling them to be connected as a single virtual organisation and be in touch with their value chain. Meanwhile, they will be facing up to the challenges of ‘Big Data’ and analytics while the rest are still struggling with ‘Small Data’.

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