Ashish KoulAshish KoulJune 6, 2018
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5min851

The benefits of an effective omnichannel customer communications programme can be enormous.

However, without a clear strategy, businesses may end up ploughing resources into campaigns that aren’t going to deliver the results they need. It is therefore important that organisations assess the method by which they will measure business value from their outbound engagement strategy.

Outbound communication has gone through a shift in terms of how organisations engage with their customers. The prevalence of highly cost-effective channels such as SMS, e-mail, and even social media, has led businesses away from focussing solely on voice technology. Now, the key is to communicate with each customer through the best channel for both them and for the business.

What should an omnichannel outbound strategy involve?

Omnichannel means making best use of all available channels to achieve the best business outcome. Naturally, you should know your customers and your services well enough to determine who you should target, and with what offers or messages. If you contact them at the wrong time, with the wrong message, or via the wrong channel, they may well ignore the communication, or worse, start to ignore your company.

Wasting live agent calls on customers who won’t welcome the outreach will cost the business money and potentially affect your brand equity. The key is to use customer tiering and targeting to ensure that outbound communication produces results by tailoring offers and contact methods based closely on the customer’s needs and preferences.

Effective utilisation of agents

The benefits of such a strategy can be pivotal, as it can hugely improve agent efficiency and value. Any business that uses a contact centre knows how expensive agents can be and how tiny changes in their use can have a huge impact on ROI. A smart strategy that targets customers effectively means agents spend time on the phone more productively. Yet it isn’t enough to just work on targeting offers more effectively.

One of the key aspects of any omnichannel outbound strategy should be ensuring better agent utilisation through greater automation. Automating channels such as e-mail, SMS or even social media and mail campaigns will mean the business can get better results without spending vast sums of money on extra live agent contact centre resources. An organisation can ensure that it only uses live agents where the ROI will be strongest.

Ring-fencing waste

Omnichannel communications can also deliver strong ROI by protecting businesses against unnecessary resource use. The National Health Service in the UK, for example, currently wastes £1 billion every year on missed appointments. Omnichannel outbound communications – for example, having automated text reminders or emails sent to patients when they have an upcoming appointment, to which they can quickly reply to confirm or rearrange – can play a huge role in reducing missed appointments, therefore reducing the chances of wastage. This also has a wider knock-on effect as, by automating this process, administrative staff are freed up to focus on in-clinic human interactions and higher-value work.

Improving loyalty

An additional benefit that businesses can see through effective omnichannel communications is a greater level of customer satisfaction and loyalty – another measure of ROI. We all lead busy lives, and customers receiving calls they don’t want, or being hassled with inappropriate offers via text messages, is only likely to annoy them. On the other hand, if they are contacted appropriately, in a way that is perceived to provide a useful service or otherwise add value – such as a package tracking service or notifications when a particular shop is unexpectedly closed – this can help to drive customer loyalty, word-of-mouth marketing, and foster a positive brand image.

Having a strong omnichannel outbound communications strategy is vital if businesses want to get the most out of their customer interactions. Organisations need ensure they have the right systems and skills in place to allow them to contact customers in line with what they want. Combining channels as they are needed to communicate a promotion or service will not just help to maximise the effectiveness of a campaign and save money, but also build trust and loyalty with the customer – and the value of that cannot be underestimated.


Ashish KoulAshish KoulJanuary 19, 2018
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6min541

In today’s digital world, people are expecting more from their Customer Experience. Personalised and efficient service is now the norm, and every industry, from retail to healthcare, has a vested interest in proactively engaging with their customers.

We are seeing large shifts towards patient-centric services in healthcare as service improvements continue. Proactive engagement allows healthcare branches to interact with, build relationships with, and provide a greater level of care to their patients over time. As we look various use cases, we’ll see that proactive engagement not only results in patient satisfaction, but also provides some much-needed operational efficiency benefits.

Bad attendance

The NHS is facing greater pressure as patient demands force practices to deliver a higher class of service. As these practices feel the heat from rising consumer expectations, they should be focused on maximising the value of their current customers. In any clinical setting, whether it be a small GP’s office or a large hospital, emphasis is placed on getting customers to attend their appointments. According to the NHS, around one in 10 hospital appointments are ‘did not attend’ (DNA) every year in England alone, at an estimated cost of over £1bn.

A proactive engagement strategy aims to reduce DNA rates with interactive, two-way communications. One way this can be demonstrated is with two-way SMS exchange, facilitated by big data analytics. In this scenario, a data analytics engine could detect that a patient has an upcoming appointment in the next week, and send out an automated SMS message.

This text would serve as a reminder, but also give the customer the option to “reply to this message with ‘yes’ to confirm this appointment or reply with ‘no’ if you will not make it”. Simple solutions like this have the potential to make huge savings for the NHS in both time and money.

Online scheduling

Patient appointment adherence is not only an important factor to ensure budgets go further – it is also critically important to maintain operational efficiency. The clinic or department will schedule their day based on customer appointments. If a customer is DNA or is significantly late, doctors and nurses cannot make efficient use of their time.

Emergency walk-in patients will also have to wait significantly longer when other patients do not show or turn up late. As above, an SMS exchange of even more detailed information could help patients adhere to their appointments, ensuring the patient is clear on the time and exact address of the appointment.

A new use case gaining traction in the market is an automated data push via online scheduling. In this scenario, if a first-time patient schedules an appointment, upon submitting the online appointment request, the patient receives an email with an attached PDF. This document includes all of the forms the patient will need to provide to the practice. This will greatly expedite the appointment for the patient, reduce wait time for others, and allow practices to operate more efficiently and see more patients within a day.

Proactivity is key

NHS users are increasingly expecting their clinicians to take a more proactive role in engagement through ‘patient-centred care’. The population has become busier and more mobile than ever, and GPs and local practitioners can encourage regular attendance by proactively engaging with their patients’ health interests through more regular interaction.

As the NHS slowly transitions to a model in which value/results is more important than ever, efficient preventative services are being emphasised. Doctors and public health officials have considerable interest in ensuring customers take advantage of services such as check-ups, flu vaccines, and mammograms.

With a proactive customer engagement strategy spanning multiple channels, healthcare practices can market these services more effectively and drive increased customer appointments.

Currently, there is a lot of opportunity being left on the table in the NHS and healthcare industry. Proactive customer engagement used effectively will ultimately result in increased return on investment (ROI) for each practice, but also, healthier customers in the long run.

As the pressure to save money continues to be critical for the NHS, practices need to engage with patients. The hard ROI attainable by adopting a proactive engagement strategy will become increasingly attractive as the NHS continues to explore technology solutions as a means to cut costs.




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