Why is Omni Session Handling so critical for companies? How are companies structuring their support organizations/functions?

Omni session handling is critical because today business happens across multiple channels at once. Employees are using different channels to communicate and our role is to get them access to what works best.

With regards to organization - While you need to be able to service these different channels, there should be a single team of generalists that operate across these channels. Think of it as multi channel in, that goes into a single pool of resources. These support professionals can work on requests as they come up. There can be a pull towards specialization but to be honest, issues tend to be the same across channels. I would always prioritize speed to action versus specialization.

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#omni session handling,#organizational structure

Pulse User

Omni session handling is critical because today business happens across multiple channels at once. Employees are using different channels to communicate and our role is to get them access to what works best.

With regards to organization - While you need to be able to service these different channels, there should be a single team of generalists that operate across these channels. Think of it as multi channel in, that goes into a single pool of resources. These support professionals can work on requests as they come up. There can be a pull towards specialization but to be honest, issues tend to be the same across channels. I would always prioritize speed to action versus specialization.

Yousuf Khan

Yousuf Khan, CIO

Companies are expanding their channels to engage with customers so omni channel support is becoming more and more important and systems need to align. Support structures have not generally changed but processes are for doing more systems integration so that requests and issues from these channels are directed accordingly.

Chris Bright

Chris Bright, Director of IT

Your organizations ability to interact with your customers through a variety of channels is a critical factor in creating a seamless, low effort customer experience while reducing organizational silos / knowledge gaps and creating an exciting work environment within your company.  As a very simple yet painful example, it is no longer acceptable to begin a chat session only to be told that you will need to call a phone agent to resolve your issue instead.  Waiting on hold in different channels and explaining your issue multiple times to different groups who may have rules and policies that don’t align is not a recipe for success.

Consider some of your customer questions in this simple scenario:
- Is there really any reason that the chat agent shouldn’t have the same ability to solve your problem as a the phone agent.
- Why do you need to repeat your story twice (at least) to get it properly resolved.
- Why can’t the person you were just chatting with call you back right now and solve your concern saving everyone time.
- WHY IS THIS BRAND WASTING MY TIME?

While this example be wrapped up neatly, the promise and necessity of omni-channel go well beyond this simple support use case.  In order to set up your organization for success you should prioritize the following two concepts: Eliminate silo’ed thinking.  As an advanced warning, this will be very difficult for most Customer Support leaders to accept. In fact, a vast majority of CS leaders have been successful by their extraordinary ability to create efficient groups and silo’s within the contact center and coming up with processes that allow those silos to work together efficiently.  They have created hiring processes, tools, incentive plans and management structures to enable a model that will not support the future.  Throwing this model out will not be painless. 
Select Technology and approve initiatives that truly enable omni-channel handling.  

Move away from disparate systems that have to be cobbled together in an attempt at omni-channel capability.  Consider more than just customer support applications and technology here. Do your customers interact on the web or in a mobile app, do they get marketing emails or social media interactions?  Use these concepts to build a strategy that creates a seamless, low effort experience across every channel to ensure you don’t fall behind your competition.

Raja Shankar Kolluru

Raja Shankar Kolluru, CIO

Omni Session, as stated by others, avoids a dissonant experience for the end customer in an Omni Channel set up. We know that customers interact with a business using different channels including both online and offline. In today's world, customers have a very limited span of attention. In fact, according to this article (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2534163/Proof-shrinking-attention-span-Average-person-switches-devices-21-times-HOUR.html) the average person in the UK is prone to switch between devices 21 times in one hour!

Therefore, consistency across channels is paramount. Customers expect consistent data, experience and personalization capabilities across channels. Let us consider a retail store that is also into e-commerce to illustrate this.

In case the data is not consistent, then customers see different products, pricing, inventory and promotions in different channels. This happens because the business has not unified the systems across channels. This includes both technology and operations. For example, in many businesses it is not possible to buy products available at a particular store online. The products are either stored in different computer systems (technical) or there is no easy way to block store inventory from online (operational) Hence customers are forced to visit the store to understand what is available and their price. This gives a very dissonant perception. Many businesses are consolidating their systems and making this possible.

Another chief source of dissonance between channels is the experience and personalization capabilities. For example a Gold customer might not even be recognized by the store clerk at the check out counter. Businesses are unifying the systems to make a consistent experience possible.

The most sophisticated businesses allow a workflow to span across devices. A person might initiate a transaction in one channel, perform some research in another channel and finally culminate the transaction in a third channel. All three channels must be attributed the credit for this transaction. Hence the experience needs to be linked across channels - a process called visitor stitching. Visitor stitching needs a session to span across channels. This Omni session allows businesses to personalize the customer experience across channels.

Let us say that a user browsed for "pen" in the mobile web site of a business. She decides to visit the same business later in her laptop. She must be able to see personalized recommendations for pens leveraging that previous session that happened in her mobile. This is only possible if the user's browsing pattern is stored against the user name rather than against the mobile session. (which is more ephemeral)

This achieves ultimate personalization capability.

Caveats:

Please be aware that omni session might inadvertently introduce privacy issues in case the same user name is shared by multiple people. In reality, this should not be too problematic but it is important to be aware of it and advertise accordingly (probably in the fine print!)