Omnichannel-AI enables companies to provide autonomous, or semi-autonomous, interactions across any digital channel, including voice. This includes chatbots and Conversational IVRs, but also SMS based interactions with your customers or even automating Curbside pick-up at your physical locations.

Why Omnichannel-AI? Why now?

Omnichannel is no longer just about the contact center. Its about moving your company into the contactless economy and meeting your customers where they're at. In today's world, that could mean they're waiting in queue in a contact center, or waiting in a physical queue outside your brick-and-mortar location. Likewise, Conversational AI is no longer just about chatbots on a website. When applied together, Omnichannel-AI infuses intelligent automation and service throughout the customer journey, no matter where they're at.

Developing an Omnichannel-AI approach to customer engagement will result in faster response times, reduced cost of service, enhanced customer experience, and deeper insights into your customer journey and behaviors.

For example, deploying SMS or chat as a communication channel can reduce your staffing requirements by up to 2/3 for those interactions, and provide more convenience to your customers. When infused with Conversational Service Automation, the cost-per-automated-interaction becomes pennies. Now compare that to the expense of handling all interactions with live agent voice calls.

Some may argue against the idea of going Omnichannel by postulating that your customer demographics won't adopt SMS or a conversational IVR, or its more expensive to implement and you'll never see financial benefits.

But upon any level of analysis, these arguments don't hold true, and are putting your company at a competitive disadvantage to those that embrace market transitions and emerging tools.

If you're starting a new contact center from scratch, you are at an advantage to your incumbent competitors. You get to start with a modern architecture that scales with your business. You get to design and implement customer experiences that will drive acquisition and retention at a lower cost than a company saddled with legacy assets.

If you're starting a new contact center from scratch, you are at an advantage to your incumbent competitors. You get to start with a modern architecture that scales with your business. You get to design and implement customer experiences that will drive acquisition and retention at a lower cost than a company saddled with legacy assets.

stacks. This means implementing something new, like an SMS based IVR, often comes at the cost of expensive forklift upgrades and new licenses. Worse yet, adopting new communications for Contactless Interactions isn't even possible with most legacy providers.

Additionally, a full-on migration from legacy infrastructure to a new cloud based provider, such as Twilio or Amazon Connect, might not be feasible as you're faced with depreciating the assets on your balance sheet, taking on the expense of migration and the new recurring OPEX.

If you're a BPO, its an even tougher sell as providing Omnichannel-AI services to your customers stands to cannibalize your agent seat count.

So then are you trapped in some time capsule from the year 2010?

The answer is "No".

Getting started with Omnichannel-AI does not have to be an "all-or-nothing" approach. As it turns out there's a path forward that can address each of these challenges and provide the capabilities your company needs to thrive in the Contactless and AI driven economy.

Start Where You're At

It doesn't matter if you have one call center with 20 agents or multiple call centers with thousands of agents, there's an Omnichannel-AI architecture that can work for you.

Regardless of if you have an on premise ACD with no SIP trunking or if you're cloud native, here's your roadmap to success (note, you may skip to the scenario that best describes where you're at).

On Premise ACD with no SIP Trunking

This is the least flexible architecture as it requires a multifaceted approach. The key is to identify which call types are best suited to move to multiple channels, and which ones are a good fit for automation. This is an important distinction, because most chatbots fail because they're expected to do too many things when put out on a website. With a more intentional approach, you can start with just the interactions that are a good target for omnichannel and automation.

To implement a Conversational IVR, the calls will still terminate to your ACD like they do today. The difference is, you will insert a prompt in your IVR that transfers the caller out to Xaqt's Conversational IVR for automation.

To deploy an SMS IVR or SMS Bot, you'll need to establish a new phone number with the CPaaS provider of choice. Xaqt can do this for you, or we recommend Twilio or Avaya. This new number gets connected to Xaqt's Conversational AI engine and you're up and running. The CPaaS phone number will work for both SMS and Conversational IVR on day-one with the same bot framework.

In this scenario, you can either provide the new number to customers directly, or when a caller enters your IVR you can present them with the option to correspond via SMS instead of waiting in queue. This is an effective alternative to offering customers a callback option.

On Premise with CPaaS SIP

If you already have SIP trunking today with a CPaaS provider such as Twilio, Avaya or Vonage, then you have a world of new opportunities in front of you. Selecting the right CPaaS provider is critical, because they provide you with call control capabilities via APIs. These APIs are what enable applications such as Xaqt's Conversational IVR and CX Automation framework to communicate seamless across all channels.

With these in place, enabling a Conversational IVR with unified SMS is a simple process and you can often be up and running within a few hours.

Cloud Native or CCaaS

Most cloud native providers tout "Omnichannel out-of-the-box", but not all are created equal or provide the ability to create a unified and seamless experience for your customers. Our advice when selecting a cloud provider or CCaaS is to use an "API first" approach. In other words, vet the platform's openness and APIs. Many people first focus on features like call center reporting or the agent desktop. These are important, but if your vendor is a closed-box system then you will be tied to their roadmap forever vs. having the ability to customize and create the experiences that are right for your customers.

We're fans of Twilio Flex as it takes advantage of Twilio's underlying APIs, is fully SIP enabled, and the agent desktop is fully customizable. Amazon Connect is a decent runner-up, but its integration with Pinpoint for SMS is a bit janky.

Live Agent Escalations and Omnichannel Desktop

Finally, for non-voice interactions that require live agent support, you're going to need to integrate that channel back into the agent desktop so that the agent can handle the conversations with context. Each vendor has their own strategy there, and we can work with you to define the best approach.

Also forthcoming is Xaqt's Connected Experiences, that provides a shared inbox and worker interface into digital interactions and queuing.