‘Omnichannel’ involves using all your available channels – digital, print, physical – to create one unified experience for your customer, no matter how, when or where they interact with your brand, and across all stages of the customer journey. While there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ omnichannel strategy, these five building blocks are a key foundation on which to base a strategy that is tailored to your specific product or service and your audience.
Although laziness can have a negative connotation, when it comes to consumer behaviour, this unwillingness to exert any more effort than necessary can actually be the impetus for companies to delight us by making our lives easies.
Amazon is the obvious example of a company who know exactly how to win over a time-strapped audience looking for hassle-free shopping. Elements like ‘1-Click’ ordering, same-day delivery, Sunday delivery and product subscriptions have turned it into the most convenient store on the planet.
In Belgium, banking group KBC has also led the way with its omnichannel approach of offering clients the solutions they need, when and where they need them. This includes brick and mortar branches (whether manned or unmanned branches), digital channels such as mobile apps and website, and even via WhatsApp though their KBC Live service.
Some say that predictable is boring, but when it comes to offering an outstanding customer experience, consistency is key to making and keeping customers happy.
While in the past, we may have tolerated – or perhaps taken advantage of – a difference level of service from one channel compared to another (think poor in-store experience vs. fast and efficient Facebook messenger experience), customers now expect a unified voice and service, whatever the channel, and whatever the stage in their journey.
This is of course challenging for companies that operate in silos, with product development, marketing, sales and customer service departments working separately with little collaboration. But if companies truly want to put their customers at the centre of an omnichannel approach, and deliver a seamless experience, then those silos need to be broken down.
As customers, we have become incredibly demanding, and our short attention spans means that our tolerance for mass, ‘one-message-fits-all’ is at an all-time low. We expect real-time, highly personalised interaction that are tailored to our buying preference, transaction history and user behaviour.
We’re often happy to exchange personal data for this superior experience, and as a result, we expect companies to know us. A 2018 study by Salesforce revealed that “79% of customers [both business buyers and general public] are willing to share relevant information about themselves [or professional information] in exchange for contextualized interactions in which they’re immediately known and understood.”
Companies can take advantage of this ‘green light’ by using data and data analytics to offer a better overall experience. For example, using data on customer behaviour for more granular customer segmentation that lets you better meet their individual needs.
With all our focus on the customer’s needs, you’d be briefly forgiven for forgetting about the role that company employees play – in particular those who are client-facing – and how a holistic omnichannel approach can impact them. After all, in many cases, they are literally on the front line, and are a key element of your lead generating, lead nurturing, sales and after-sales strategies.
Here are some statistics that show just what a more customer-focused approach can do to empower and inspire your employees, and how that can have bottom-line impact:
- Companies that excel at customer experience have 5 times more engaged employees than less customer-focused companies.
- Companies with initiatives to improve their customer experience see employee engagement increase by 20% on average.
Is it really that important to have engaged employees? When companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by 147%, then yes, definitely.
If companies can empower employees to meet and exceed customer needs at every touch point, their chances of having happy and loyal customers increases dramatically.
Consumer behaviour, technological trends and legislation are constantly evolving. And with so many moving parts, it’s essential that companies take an agile approach to creating, executing and adjusting strategies.
A 2019 study from McKinsey showed that one of the biggest factors that differentiated the top performers was that they had the speed and adaptability to achieve first-mover (or very-fast-follower) status. With an agile ‘fail fast’ mentality, companies get better at both spotting opportunities, and knowing when to change tactics.
6. Customer experience
For many years, improving the customer experience has become an important tactic for building a successful business. A strong customer experience strategy will increase customer satisfaction and reduce churn. And there is no doubt that companies who actively listen to their customers and fine-tune each touchpoint end up with better reputations and higher revenue.
However, many companies don’t manage to deliver winning customer experience because they believe they simply have to push the same message through different channels. Customers expect a highly personalised, seamless and consistent experience, so one that is fragmented falls far short of their expectations. Therefore, the values, tone, branding and structure that are present across a company’s online and offline communications should be consistent.
A customer experience measurement can help companies evaluate and improve the experience their customers have. This measurement relies on three metrics:
- Effort: the difficulty or ease in accomplishing their goals
- Success: the degree to which customers can accomplish their goals
- Emotion: how the interaction makes the customers feel
Effort and emotion are both powerful metrics that can make or break the customer experience. In most cases, a low level of customer effort equals a high level of customer loyalty. However, research suggests that emotion has the biggest impact on loyalty.