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Omnichannel
customer
experience and
your network

Author: Rose de Fremery

An omnichannel strategy can help your business give customers more satisfying experiences, but it also creates new requirements for network performance that should be addressed in advance. Here are some of the considerations to keep in mind when preparing your network to support an omnichannel customer experience.

How an omnichannel customer experience delivers business value

Until recently, businesses typically engaged with their customers using just one or two channels like voice and email. However, with the increasing adoption of multiple communication channels such as social media platforms and messaging apps, customers generally now expect instant customer service using their preferred channel at any hour of the day.

Businesses that deliver an omnichannel experience can meet their customers where they are, providing a consistent and improved customer experience across a variety of touchpoints including voice, chat apps, live chat, chatbots, social media and email. By offering a personalized customer experience that is not only conveniently located on customers' channels of choice but also relevant and timely, businesses can greatly improve the quality of their customer relationships.

A satisfying omnichannel experience can often lead to increased customer satisfaction, which can reduce churn while increasing loyalty. By leveraging analytics insights available in an advanced omnichannel engagement solution, businesses can also spot opportunities to upsell customers or even create new products or services that meet a previously unaddressed need.

Why the omnichannel experience depends on strong network performance

An omnichannel customer experience can place surprisingly intensive demands on your network's capacity and level of performance. For example, as your customer experience agents engage with customers using a wider variety of channels including voice, chat and video, you will likely need increased bandwidth to simultaneously serve up all of these connections. Sufficient bandwidth capacity alone will not guarantee smooth omnichannel customer engagement, however.

If your network experiences significant wide-area network (WAN) latency, your customers could experience degraded or even interrupted conversations. This means you should ensure your omnichannel communications run smoothly across mobile connections, particularly if your customer experience team is working remotely. Lastly, it's important to confirm that these connections are secure since they involve customer data.

How to prepare your network for an omnichannel rollout

Depending on how your network is currently configured, you may need to take different steps to prepare for an omnichannel rollout. Many businesses use solutions such as a software-defined wide-area network (SD WAN) to optimize application performance across the WAN. SD WAN prioritizes critical traffic such as voice and video across the network, automatically adjusting to changing conditions.

Since SD WAN services are delivered above the network, they can be delivered regardless of the underlying network transport while helping to provide your business with a secure option for offering an omnichannel customer experience. And, because they often maximize the resources of multiple existing internet connections while allowing your IT team to centrally administer them from a single dashboard, SD WAN services are particularly attractive from a cost and administration perspective. They can easily be scaled up as needed, too.

If your business specifically requires optimized and highly reliable performance across its dedicated WAN connections, managed WAN optimization services may be in order. Typically deployed to two or more locations, managed WAN optimization services can properly prioritize important traffic, boost network performance, reduce latency and improve responsiveness—all improvements that can benefit your omnichannel experience. You can even ramp up bandwidth when the situation requires it, nimbly responding to changing business requirements.

Of course, depending on how your network is configured and how you expect to use it to deliver an omnichannel customer experience, you may want to optimize the performance of specific elements such as your local area network (LAN), your Wi-Fi network or your branch locations. Accordingly, solutions such as managed LAN, managed wireless LAN, managed SD wireless LAN and software-defined secure branch services may be beneficial when preparing for your omnichannel rollout.

IT staffing considerations for your omnichannel rollout

If your business does not have dedicated network administrators or other IT staff who understand and can manage the complexities involved in network performance optimization across multiple locations and endpoints, you may need additional expertise to properly prepare for your omnichannel rollout. You will also need the right resources to administer your network on an ongoing basis after you've implemented your omnichannel customer experience solution.

If your IT team is small—and particularly if it is already working on multiple mission-critical business priorities—you may find it beneficial to tap the experience of a managed services provider that specializes in delivering and administering high-performing networks in just these sorts of scenarios. The right network partner can help you properly configure, deploy and maintain your network without burdening your in-house IT team, helping you achieve all of your business goals in the time frame required.

Delivering an omnichannel experience demands a bit more legwork than you might initially assume, especially when it comes to ensuring strong network performance. But by proactively preparing your network to support omnichannel engagement, you stand to exceed customer expectations and inspire the kind of customer loyalty that can lead to long-term growth.

Learn how Verizon's Managed Network Services help you manage the day-to-day tasks that help keep your network secure and agile.