In a recent podcast about omnichannel (see below), an interesting spin on the well-trodden omnichannel topic came up, posed by my colleague Fred McClimans: “Omnichannel applies to the internal business/partner operations just as much as the consumer side of the market – so why isn’t this given enough attention? Or is it?”
Is the Omnichannel truly Everywhere?
It’s a great question, and one that every company should think about. All organizations are dealing with BYOD and an increasingly mobile workforce that has various preferences depending on what we want to accomplish. We are omnichannel in our personal lives—just yesterday, I texted a friend about making plans to meet, later sent her a link to a funny video on Facebook messenger, and then called to tell her I was running late for said plans. It’s the same at work where sometimes we Skype, text, call or use social platforms depending on what we do. Of course, these are interpersonal relationships where we know one another and the context for seamless interactions is often inherent and certain technology implications aren’t quite as severe (think automated analyst briefings!) – but the concept is the same.
Where the internal omnichannel concept seems increasingly applicable, is within the contact center environment. Static FAQ style knowledge management systems are being replaced by dynamic social platforms where contact center employees can get the information they need and learn from each other to support the end customer experience. Gone are the days of contact center supervisors poring over reports in dark corner cubicles, they are roaming the floors with tablets giving them real-time performance updates while listening to and coaching employees.
It’s Tools and Talent!
All too often employees don’t have the tools at their disposal to effectively do their jobs – as we move toward OneOffice, it’s not just front line workers like contact center that need effective communications tools, it’s the back office and everything in between, as well as partner communications. It’s about how we work with each other, how that permeates through our company culture, and ultimately how that supports the end customer.
From a larger business, and cultural, perspective, supporting any type of omnichannel engagement costs money and takes time to implement, not to mention a new level of training. Already stressed by budget costs associated with digital transformation and omnichannel expansion, both talent costs and technology costs are watched very closely. Every dollar spent (or invested) is increasingly tied to customer-centric outcomes, while internal development (which may not immediately impact sales revenue) is often a second or third priority.
There is also a mindset shift that needs to occur within most enterprises – viewing employees as less “workers” and more “consumers and partners”. The truth is, employees are customers (users) of an enterprise’s internal systems and their satisfaction and consumption follows the general pattern of the larger consumer market. Employees are also partners, who must engage with various departments as part of an internal supply chain process). Failure to embrace omnichannel within an enterprise, while employees are living it at home, is like asking employees to leave their mobile devices at the door and not embrace BYOD.
The Bottom-line: Employees are Customers too!
So, to answer the question, why isn’t this being given enough attention (or is it)? It’s not, and the reason is a matter of maturity, and recognizing the influence that internal culture and organizational structure can have on business performance. Most of the marketing hype for omnichannel is being driven by tech vendors that are selling customer facing platforms, and thus the discussion leans in that direction. But employees are customers too. Time for us to change that dialogue, and start pushing enterprises and service providers alike to embrace the omnichannel in internal operations.
Here’s the podcast mentioned above, where we dive into the issues of omnichannel CX support within the global market, including the challenges faced by omnichannel within the enterprise: