It’s Time to Get Serious about Omni-Channel Part 2: Software-Based Omni-Channel

A Software-Based Omnichannel

As a technology matures, even in the early stages of that maturity, it gets smarter, smaller, streamlined. It also heads over to the software side of things. Software solutions—instead of software built to run on a hardware solution—are more versatile, easier to grow and evolve, easier to adapt, and a longer-value investment. (Case in point: our first software defined omnichannel—the first instance of Metaphor Engage—has been in place for over a decade.)

Metaphor Engage is just that kind of full software solution—independent of any hardware. The Metaphor Engage software-defined omnichannel eliminates the wholesale trauma of swapping out equipment, systems and applications. It works with virtually any equipment you have or use—even machines that are a decade old (and older). The same is true for software and core business applications. Metaphor Engage doesn’t toss existing software; it creates wrappers for them that let you keep using them without a hiccup. That also means that Metaphor Engage costs less to implement and launches much faster—weeks instead of months. And since there’s no equipment transition, there’s no threat of business interruption.

That’s the basics of the architecture. Now let’s take a look at how that software-based architecture helps you build an omnichannel faster, cheaper and better.

A Development Environment

Metaphor Engage is a single development platform for adding and modifying customer engagement functionality across the Omnichannel ecosystem. With Metaphor Engage, you don’t learn to use an omnichannel designed by the vendor—which means following the workflows the vendor designed. You design, create and modify your own omnichannel workflows—without tugging on IT for help. It’s done through a simple, intuitive, development GUI (which I’m going to talk about in a later post). If you want to add a new customer alert, or a new menu option, a new form, or determine which customers should even see a menu or form—it’s all done from within this unified environment.

You Define the Strategies

Using the development front end, your business users identify the strategies that govern the workflow of your Omnichannel customer engagement. A strategy is, simply stated, what will happen when an event of any kind occurs.

Here are a few examples of strategies:

  1. Guiding a customer through making a payment.
  2. What happens when a customer makes a payment.
  3. What happens when a customer misses a payment.
  4. What happens when a customer makes a purchase.
  5. What happens when a customer checks her balance every day.
  6. What happens when a customer bounces too many checks.

Your business team identifies those strategies and defines the types of actions that might occur when each is invoked.

Your Customers Make the Rules

I say “might occur” because within an omni-channel environment there are multiple options involving multiple channels. What actually happens is defined by the rules—the triggers and processes—that kick into action when an event occurs.

How do you define those rules with Metaphor Engage?

Actually, you don’t.

Your customer does.

After all, that’s what omnichannel is all about, isn’t it? Omni-channel is all about a personal experience, across every channel, all the time. It shifts the focus from what you want to happen to what your customer wants to happen.

Let’s look again at the first and second strategy I listed. But this time, let’s look at with omnichannel eyes.

I’m not going to ask “What happens when a customer makes a payment?“

I’m going to make it about me personally. I’m going to ask:

What do I want to happen after I pay a bill?

  1. Actually the first thing I want to happen is a reminder three days ahead of time that the bill is due. I want that through a text message.
  2. I want a link in the message to open the mobile payment app.
  3. After I make the payment I want a confirmation via email if it was in excess of $3,000.
  4. I want a text alert that the email has been sent.
  5. If I want to follow up, I want to do so with a live agent whose number should be in the text alert.
  6. After the call I want a log of the call emailed to me.

Metaphor Engage lets me—the customer—define all of it: for bill payment and every other interaction I have with the business. Those rules might be defined in my account preferences. The business helps too by monitoring my behavior and suggesting new rules (if I check my balance after every automatic deposit, it might send me a suggestion to have a notification sent automatically). I decide which channel I’m notified on, which information I want to see under which circumstances, when I want to see it . . . rules that are executed on every channel I use.

Of course, it’s not just me that gets to make those decisions. All of your customers do. Suddenly, every customer has a precisely personal experience during every interaction with you. That means you don’t have a single strategy—“here’s what Robb told us to do when he makes a payment.” You have as many strategies as you have customers: here’s what Sarah told us to do when she pays us and here’s what Sam told us to do when he pays us . . . and so on. In fact, Metaphor Engage executes millions of strategies all the time, following the precise rules that each customer sets.

Metaphor Engage Executes the Rules

Putting those unique, individual strategies and rules in motion is the next challenge. They have to run on your mobile app and your web and your IVR, and connect into Twitter and text and all across the Omnichannel ecosystem.

What work is involved in making all that happen?

Just about no work at all. Those strategies you create and those rules your customers define are universal. They don’t run on your mobile device or your web server or in your IVR. They run on Metaphor Engage: within its universal workflow engine. Metaphor Engage automatically renders and optimizes each strategy for every channel you’ve brought together. Let’s hold on to the bill payment example. My  rule is to confirm via text message. That strategy is set not at the channel level, but at the Metaphor Engage workflow engine level. It executes no matter which channel (or channels) I use to pay the bill. So the mobile app doesn’t have to be updated, nor the web, nor the IVR—as soon as the rule is enabled or changed within the Metaphor Engage workflow engine, every channel follows it.

The Metaphor Engage software-defined omnichannel combines the best of all worlds. It works with every system you’re currently using. It’s not an “omnichannel solution.” It’s an omnichannel development environment: you create your omnichannel solution in a collaboration between your business users and your customers. Its workflow engine automatically executes the strategy you establish and the rules your customers designed. And because it’s all done through software, it’s a less expensive, less traumatic, more powerful and more capable of expansion, growth and evolution than iron and wire could ever be.