Key findings in a recent Forrester Study on the benefits of using an omni channel engagement center, commissioned by customer experience platform provider Genesys, include: 50\u00a0percent\u00a0reduction in customer abandonment at key points in the customer journey\u00a0 Over $1 million in increased revenue through increased ecommerce and voice conversions While the study focused on customers using Genesys\u2019 omni channel engagement platform, it\u2019s obvious that having a system to manage the different channels customer are using to engage with businesses today should help companies be more efficient and effective. Lisa Abbott, Director of Product Marketing for Genesys, shares with us what omni channel engagement is, and how it can provide better, more contextual experiences throughout the specific stages of the customer life cycle. \u00a0 * * * * * Small Business Trends: Last week Jay Baer shared with us that he felt companies still operating with a traditional call center approach were in trouble. \u00a0Can you give us your take on the traditional approach to customer service, and what you're talking about when it comes to omni channel engagement? Lisa Abbott: I actually agree with this. I would say over the last 20 years we've seen a huge movement going from what was traditionally a call center, just the voice agent, to what's referred to now as the "contact center," which is really having to address a broader footprint of channels, with the emergence of digital channels, with the proliferation of all of the different mobile devices and ways that people engage, with the trend around people wanting to self-serve. This is really driving organizations to have to look at, "How do I improve this customer experience, and how do I manage that customer's journey as they're engaging with us?" As we see titles within companies coming with the "head of customer experience," they're being chartered with having to look and identify where are the gaps in this with their customers. If you can deliver that great experience, this is still your primary way to differentiate your brand, because, let's face it: out there, there are so many products and industries right now that have become quite commoditized, so with just a click, your customer can now become loyal to another competitor. You really have to look at how do you personally engage those customers, and how do you do it in a way that's effortless and a seamless experience for them. Small Business Trends: Let's talk a little bit about this omni channel engagement approach, and the impact that it could potentially have with consumers who are pretty savvy today. Lisa Abbott: Sure. Let me get started first by defining what we mean when we say "omni channel engagement," or, "What is an omni channel engagement center?" We talk a lot about systems of engagement, and an omni channel engagement center is acting as a system of engagement with your customers. It's really a collection of those people, of those processes, the technologies that help organize and engage your customers in this very consistent manner across all the touch-points, channels, and various journeys. There's really a broad consensus in the industry that companies and governments, they really need to proactively manage those customer journeys, and they need to do it over time and across touch-points, because you know when your customer engages with you, it isn't just a one and done. Journeys with a company, they take place over time. They stop. They start. All that context and that information needs to be tracked and captured and utilized by the company to deliver that great experience in a very personalized way. Some of the key drivers for adoption of omni channel engagement ... our customers' expectations are rising. The communication channels are proliferating. We have the Internet of Things, which is rapidly bringing another data stream for companies to have to look at on a whole. And that demands a very intuitive and frictionless experience across all these channels and touch-points. Because the world is changing so fast, and traditional drivers for revenue growth, cost reduction, improved customer loyalty are no longer enough. It's really leading these companies to be able to respond to this changing landscape, and they're doing this by differentiating through their customer experience. \u00a0And for every time that customer engages with you as a company, whether it be for a sales effort, whether it be for a service effort, that history, that information is available to the agent that's engaging with them. It's through that they can make that experience seamless, and they can also make it very customized. In fact, Forrester actually has research that they published late last fall that talked about how the predominant way customers want to engage with companies is actually through self-serving, but as they're self-serving, you need to make sure that there's ways that are in place, whether they're doing that on the Web or they're doing that through an IVR, to be able to seamlessly escalate to assisted service as needed. That can be service as it relates to sales, or it can be service as it relates to solving a problem. We've seen significant return on investment by companies that are utilizing chat, as an example, on the website, to be able to bring forward ROI, in terms of, being able to decrease shopping cart abandonment by at least 50\u00a0percent\u00a0on websites -- just by having chat agents there engaged and being able to help them; either when it's escalated to them and along with the monitoring-type capabilities that are there to be able to proactively intervene during what we refer to as "moments of truth," when customers need assistance. \u00a0 We also see where great strides in terms of doing up-sell and cross-sell occur when the agents actually have the history and information of that customer. It allows them to drive those up-sell and cross-sell offers. In fact, if you look at our new Forrester Total Economic Impact Study that was actually done, where they interviewed key Genesys customers across the globe, they actually show that they were able to drive at least a 20\u00a0percent\u00a0increase in revenue through the phone agents alone just by having that information to help with the up-sell and cross-sell. We saw conversion rates significantly driving that on the website, as well. Small Business Trends: How is omni channel engagement helping with ecommerce conversions? Lisa Abbott: A lot of times customers abandon; either they're not ready, or they didn't get their answer, or they didn't get the assistance that they need, or maybe they were having difficulty on your website of some sort. So having that type of monitoring and activity taking place on the website can help. As I've mentioned, they have seen a 50\u00a0percent\u00a0reduction in customer abandonment at key points across that particular customer's journey by just simply having chat agents on their website and having them appropriately trained. What's also key, is to make sure that the people that you have there supporting have the proper environment, the proper tools, and the proper training to do that. In fact, one of our customers that was interviewed for this study actually talked about how they saw a significant jump in their net promoter score. That had gone up quite significantly, because after every service interaction, there's always a survey that goes out to the customer, and just by having that chat engagement during those moments on the website when they were looking to purchase, that drove a significant increase in satisfaction levels. Small Business Trends: This is great, because it sounds like you really have to have the right technology to do this, but you also have to have the right training involved for the agents, and, I guess, the right agents with the right skill sets. Lisa Abbott: You're absolutely right. Your employees have the biggest impact on your company, and so it's so important to be able to optimize your workforce. Your employees have to be as effective as possible, and to do that, they really need to have the proper training and information made available to them. It's important that you're looking at the management of the employees' schedules, which is key to better understand your available resources at any given time. As you begin to route the interactions that are coming in from these customers, it's important to keep that schedule in mind, because as you utilize those agents' skills and schedules, that's really going to ensure that those interactions are directed to the right agents at the right time. Gone are the days where customers are going to tolerate the constant transferring between departments and the numerous calls and numerous interactions that are going to need to take place to have what we refer to as our "first contact resolution." Lastly, when it comes to your agents, it's important to have an omni channel desktop. By having an omni channel desktop environment, you're able to manage any interaction, whether it be through chat or through social or through the phone or email. All of those interactions come through this unified desktop, and they bring with them the context, the customer history, the customer record that has all their information about their journey as they've engaged through these various channels across your company. Like I said, your customer journey ... It isn't once and done. It takes place over time, and so to have all that history at the fingertips of those agents, it really allows them to personalize that experience, and, ultimately, resulting in customer loyalty to your company. By the way, making your agents happy is going to decrease the turn over within your employees, which will ultimately transfer over to that customer experience. Small Business Trends: I know Genesys deals with a lot of larger organizations, but a lot of what we discussed today around omni channel engagement is relevant for all size businesses, isn\u2019t it? Lisa Abbott: It sure does. Regardless of the size of the company, the tactics that we've been talking about today, the benefits that you'll see by looking at the Forrester Total Economic Impact Study that they did for Genesys ... We even have an ROI calculator on our website that we invite companies to go and put their inputs in just to get an idea of the type of ROI that they could actually receive. That's going to be beneficial to you, regardless of what size your contact center is. Small Business Trends: Where can people go to learn more? Lisa Abbott: www.genesys.com. On the front home page, you will actually see a link there that you can click to a dedicated page that has videos from Art Schoeller, who's one of the leading contact center analysts\u00a0in the industry at Forrester, talking about that.