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Omnichannel Customer Service: How Hard or Easy Can it Be?

 Sajeel Hussain By Sajeel Hussain
June 8, 2015

Just take a browser, add WebRTC, then just a pinch of salt; stir vigorously, and Voila! you have an omnichannel collaboration environment, complete with video. It sounds great, but it's far from reality for most businesses.

In addition to the technology ingredients, there are three key elements that have a much greater influence on the outcome of a development project: time, tools, and expertise. This struck me as I was contemplating adding a media room to my house and began to see parallels emerge between that process and the addition of new interaction channels, namely two-way video collaboration, in an enterprise environment.

Take the media room. It must all appear seamless from the exterior, and more importantly, everything on the interior must blend in form, fit, and function: electrical, networking, HVAC, aesthetics, and so on. In an enterprise contact center, for example, the interconnections can be equally as complex, disparate and varied: chat and email platforms, ACD, IVR, and voice systems, and even Web or social media solutions. They don't always play well together.

In either case, there are two main paths to completion: If I have the tools and expertise, I may consider doing the job myself; if I do not have them, I should find someone who does. And, of course, everything has to be accomplished within the bounds of time and budget.

While building my media room, I can develop expertise along the way through trial and error. This is neither a practical or cost-effective solution for my home, nor is it advisable in a business, where downtime and training (plus retraining) can put a long-term drain on profitability. Enterprises that do not already possess the development expertise are not likely to be successful in creating their own omnichannel solution from scratch.

However, tools are a great equalizer. Just like specialized power tools and construction gadgets can add efficiency, reduce complexity, and consolidate time-consuming tasks, well-formed software development kits (SDKs) and application programming interfaces (APIs) can enable a developer with less specific expertise to still create top-notch business solutions.

For example, an experienced mobile app developer can easily add video into an existing app, using the CaféX SDK for iOS or Android. in a matter of minutes and without needing specific experience in developing video components. And, the beauty of this approach is that the additional capabilities are instantly integrated into the native mobile app and do not require a call-out to a different application in the operating system. The right tools offset some of the technical expertise required to complete the task.

Similarly, omnichannel video can be implemented in a Web application with the addition of a new graphic on the screen and as little as two lines of code. Again, in a matter of minutes, the full effect of video can become an integral part of the customer experience. Such SDKs and APIs not only put the project within reach of an enterprise that does the requisite internal developer resources, but also broadens the pool of potential outside partners that introduce additional UX value.

At the end of the day, I don't want my new media room to literally fall down around me, so I will not be taking on the addition myself. And, in most cases, enterprises too would be wise to engage experts rather than updating mission-critical communication and customer engagement systems via DIY. But selecting partners that make the most of available development tools can make the addition of omnichannel video as simple as adding a pinch of salt. Well, almost.