With numerous channels at their disposal around the clock, the average customer journey no longer adheres to one predictable path. Thus, as companies evolve to satisfy demand, they have begun to adopt new technologies and strategies that enable them to meet the consumer where they work and play. Whether it’s in-person or online, customer-centric brands constantly work to expand their reach so they can maintain consistency across channels at all times. Yet, while this new normal has set the bar higher, many businesses have yet to grasp these new strategies to their fullest extent.

Leaders understand that their companies must establish a presence along each available avenue on the path to purchase, but many still struggle to achieve workforce optimization in the face of these emerging technologies, as the key to success lies in balancing the needs of both the agents and customers to augment productivity and experience. But, by mastering the four fundamental forms of management—field service, help desk, knowledge, and online community forum—businesses can develop the omnichannel approach they need to bring customer centricity to the next level.

Field Service Management

Despite the popular turn toward digital, many customer service interactions still take place in person. Whether it’s in-stores or in the field, there are some needs that simply can’t be satisfied over the phone or online. Thus, not only do your customer service representatives need to be equipped with the technology necessary to fulfill their duties—access to the customer’s history, for instance, might help them pinpoint any underlying or recurring issues—but they also need to have the proper personnel training. Customer service representatives must have people skills in order to establish and sustain the type of rapport that supports loyalty and retention.

Help Desk Management

Because help desks generally consist of internal operations that assist employees and business partners as they manage their various IT assets, leaders must focus on hiring and training strong employees who are motivated to provide exceptional service every single day. To ensure these employees have the capacity to handle any task, brands must develop an enterprisewide culture that enables representatives to track issues end-to-end so nothing slips through the cracks. It’s increasingly important to provide consistent, personalized support, as customers can easily turn to the competition at any moment. Customer service experiences can make or break these long-term relationships.

Knowledge Management (Self-Service/Remote Support)

Knowledge management acts an umbrella term for the self-service and remote support options modern companies must offer consumers. Because customers are distinctly independent today, they often seek self-service opportunities before they ever engage with representatives. They’d much prefer to solve their issue on their own, if possible. Companies must, therefore, establish the framework and strategies required to develop self-service portals that provide omnichannel access to the information they need to answer their questions and solve their problems. Remote support, of course, remains a byproduct of knowledge management and self-service, as these technologies empower agents to provide seamless service from afar.

Online Community Forum Management

In many cases, consumers turn to one another for assistance when they encounter issues with a particular product or service. Many seek advice from their Twitter followers. Others share their problem on public forums in hope that others will have experienced (and solved) the dilemma. When people pursue this route, it’s often because they couldn’t rectify the issue via the brand’s self-service database.

However, because these inquiries are typically posted on third-party sites, leaders must decide how to intervene. Here, CRMI outlines the questions companies must answer when developing their approach:

  1. Agree on your forum governance model. How involved do you want to be in managing your forum?
  2. Agree on intervention protocols. What kind of comments, questions and issues are going to prompt a facilitator intervention?
  3. Determine intervention procedures. What are your approval processes for releasing intervention content?
  4. Determine intervention responsibilities. Who is your primary facilitator/site manager?
  5. Ensure proper training for facilitator/site manager. Can someone with extensive customer service experience handle the site? Do they need specialist media training?
  6. Ensure community members know rules of engagement. Make sure the moderation rules are appropriate for your forum.

But, before implementing any new technologies and strategies, leaders must take stock of their company’s current state and perform an audit to establish strengths and weaknesses across the enterprise. Leaders must understand where they suffer and where they excel so they can focus on improving specific management techniques. While some companies will require a complete overhaul, many will find they’re already on the road to success. After all, workforce optimization can’t thrive without deliberate, effective strategies to guide service and experience initiatives. When employees are equipped with the tools and training they need to succeed, everyone wins.