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The Broken Promises of ‘Cloud Native Omnichannel’

For years we’ve heard claims about how AI, omnichannel, and personalization would transform our customer experience and improve the bottom line. So why are our collective brand experiences still so fragmented, unintelligent, and robotic?
The big push from multichannel to omnichannel promised us all that rather than merely supporting the never-ending stack of new digital channels, we would be able to provide seamless pivoting across these channels without the loss of context… Contact Center Nirvana.
Despite all of the customer-centricity hype, vendors really only focused on making it seamless for the agent: Merge the channel types into a single UI, and contextualize the channels so the agent has some history.
We focused on contextualizing channel switching for agents because consumers were pivoting across channels out of necessity. Voice was the most efficient platform for back-and-forth conversation, but navigating the clunky and unintelligent IVR was frustrating and we couldn’t exchange digital information.
But human interaction has evolved.
In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone, and one year later they launched the App Store with 500 apps, sparking a social and economic phenomenon that would change everything about how we interact with friends and family.
So here we are. More than 80% of all consumers — regardless of generation — have a smartphone. Consumer mobile usage averages five hours per day. App purchases have surpassed $100 billion annually. Mobile isn’t another channel to add to the digital stack. It’s a single modality that consolidates the entire stack in the palm of your hand. It’s simple, intuitive, and overwhelmingly preferred by consumers. And it can offer the contact center metadata and context we could only dream of five to 10 years ago.
So why are our customers still stuck switching channels? And starting over. And reauthenticating. And repeating themselves. And spelling things.
The promise of omnichannel was a good one. But it hasn't been delivered — and its moment has passed.
Today’s most tech-forward brands have already moved on. Leaders in IoT, on-demand delivery, eCommerce, and home automation are ahead of the curve, retooling to deliver predictive, contextual, conversational CX for their mobile and digital-first, smartphone-era consumers.
And in doing so, they’re effectively rewriting the requirements for enterprise digital transformation and the cloud contact center. But these new requirements are exposing long-standing design flaws and conventional thinking that have failed to evolve in parallel with the changing human interaction landscape.
We’re at a massive inflection point in the customer experience industry, as the world’s largest on-premises contact centers scramble to adopt cloud solutions in order to support a remote workforce in response to recent global events.
But these companies need to think beyond remote agents. They need to be thinking about modernizing their CX to create an end-to-end frictionless experience for their remote customers.
Despite all the claims about customer-centricity, the vast majority of contact centers are still focused first and foremost on efficiency metrics. But the companies who are truly focused on taking care of their customers are finding that the results take care of themselves.
Click here to learn how Millennial and Generation Z technology and communication preferences require customer service to move beyond omnichannel.