How to Capture the Omnichannel Customer Experience
Those a bit older might remember the times when it was all much simpler: physical stores, paying in cash, taking the purchased goods home, repeat.
Modern means of exchanging goods and services for money imply finding each other not only in physical outlets, but in overlapping spaces of social media, online and offline stores, and in the mobile space.
Customers of today are much savvier and demanding.
Facing almost unlimited supply of duplicating goods and services to satisfy all of their desires, they easily switch their preferences (meaning devices – or communication channels to speak of).
Customer loyalty has become such an unstable phenomenon!
What happened to the “good old” days of outlets at the street corner which were attended day after day by one and the same close neighbour who was more than just a customer to the shopkeeper, but sometimes a soulmate to chat with while making purchases?
In our days, it is all much faster and easier – for customers in the first place.
If your website is down, they simply click on the next link generated by Google search, jumping to a similar online shop – maybe not as fancy as yours, but offering identical or very similar yoga mats, vitamins, or whatever is being purchased.
Success here means the ability to track potential customers, being their invisible companion and providing what they want the exact moment that desire becomes realized.
Why Multichannel Is Not an Option
The good news is that it may as well be easier for the opposite selling side, provided that it accepts the new rules and agrees to play by them.
The second notion of multichannel marketing is also a neologism, closely associated with eCommerce and frequently confused with the omnichannel by the ones who are new to both.
In fact, those models are quite the opposite.
Multichannel marketing means providing potential customers with a choice of communication channels to make transactions with.
Each of them has certain preferences which determine the seller’s behaviour within the channel’s limits.
To illustrate the idea, capturing and maximizing customer experience in a physical store may (and has always been) done by a number of metrics, such as:
- Time spent in the queue, in minutes,
- The number of complaints per month,
- Attendance (customers entering the store in a certain period of time),
- Service (share of visitors actually served by the shopkeeper).
If we choose those “physical” customers as our main target audience and focus all efforts on that aspect, we work on building up customer loyalty by the metrics suggested above (there may be dozens of others as well).
If, on the other hand, we observe that the Internet community has greater potential, we place all the efforts on the maximization of the website’s conversion ratio (the share of serviced customers among idle visitors), at the same time working to improve user experience with the online store itself (by improving our core web vitals) and not forgetting about other factors to rank as high as possible in Google search.
And of course, it is possible to have parallel “online” and “offline” teams, both working with two groups of customers at the same time!
That, again, is what multichannel is all about.
What distinguishes the innovative omnichannel marketing model is that it is all integrated and interrelated, done as a whole, may it be capturing customer experience at whichever point he or she gets in touch with the seller, or maximizing customer loyalty in response.
Not like with multichannel marketing wherein the centre of a circle there is the good or service being offered, with the omnichannel model we have the customer encircled by various communication channels almost equally available to him or her in our technologically advanced era.
They all work together as one to capture a unique customer experience, being integral parts of the same machine rather than its independent silos.
Imagine a customer observing a contextual ad popped up on an information website because not long before that, he or she did a Google search for something like a frying pan.
Also imagine you being the frying pans dealer.
Now the customer goes to Facebook and all of a sudden sees a review there by your former satisfied customer who praises the quality of your brand.
The backlink leads the customer to the page to make an order.
All of a sudden it becomes an integrated marketing strategy with only nominal differences between types of channels.
Social media, email newsletters, online stores, mobile ads – of course, those are still different things, but that difference goes away when there is a single customer with unique preferences to be served.
We now need to know a number of interrelated facts at the same time, such as:
- Keywords used by customers in the Google search,
- Their other preferences – for instance, what accompanying goods were searched for at the same time?
- Composition of your backlinks portfolio – where else on the Internet are your goods and services mentioned apart from the web store itself?
- Effectiveness of the backlinks building strategy – how much traffic is generated by those resources?
- The pattern of customers’ switching between available communication channels – where they come from and where they leave, why?
- The conversion ratio for each of the channels – how much of incoming traffic is converted into grateful customers?
- Customer perception of the channel.
The ability to serve a customer no matter the channel where that customer arrives is of utmost importance.
Reputation management is now far more than just a fancy business motto, but a set of strictly defined principles and tactics to maintain and improve customer perception of your brand through all interconnected communication channels.
It’s a complicated business process that needs to be followed consistently.
With the omnichannel marketing model, your company has to track virtually all mentions of its brand on whatever channel it may appear, may it be a social media review, an online review, or just an article where they “forgot” to put a backlink and now it has to be dealt with.
The Future is Now
According to Invesp, companies with developed omnichannel approaches to customer engagement retain 89% of their customers as compared to only one third in case of those who place all the bets on more traditional approaches to marketing.
The data for 2015 may seem a bit outdated because six years ago only 45% of sellers mentioned omnichannel as the most important thing to do with their business, and 72% of them saw offline customer experience as the most influencing factor. B
But today, the numbers could have easily changed places.
It feels like they are almost encouraging companies to adopt the new model!
- Nearly all Americans have several devices which they use within a day. Switching from a smartphone to a tablet or a desktop computer implies the need to catch up with them through multiple channels.
- Most of the customers favour seamless customer service 24 hours a day no matter what channel they use for making a transaction.
- At the same time, more than one third don’t even expect to meet the same sales manager once again. It’s a good thing if they don’t have to thanks to being successfully served from the start.
- On the opposite, this could mean trouble if they have to because customers get irritated by having to repeat their requests and contact details to sales managers on different channels again and again. If it was the multichannel model with low mutual integration of different communication channels, there would be a very high probability of the customer going mad if he or she has already placed the order online, called the phone number simply to check the delivery status, and now being asked to repeat the contact details again!
- For that reason companies with developed omnichannel models store the data on their customers on multiple channels.
It’s a “new normal” again, a consequence of the digital transformation of our reality.
It has long been recognised in developed economies of the West, and the idea is gaining popularity even in emerging markets like Russia, for instance – it will be there eventually.
Living in a digital era requires following a new set of laws which may seem uncommon to many born earlier than the 90’s maybe, but those are the rules to be played by.
Going Deeper with Automation
So you have accepted omnichannel as the new sales model – now you have thousands of customers to attend.
The Digital era implies digital tools to operate to make it all effective, and there are different aspects of the new type of customer service.
There is a range of technology tools that makes management of all inboxes on all communication channels as easy as it could possibly be.
True omnichannel customer management tools can provide a range of benefits including :
- Speed optimisation: allowing different team members to see the same incoming letters and respond.
- Maintaining security: it is not the same thing as simply giving all team members the same login credentials for one email box to share, thus exposing them to a way higher risk of being compromised.
- An opportunity to decide whether to service the customer individually or as a team.
- Serving “difficult” clients together.
- Streamline communications with each other without interrupting the customer servicing process
- And many other great features!
Convergence is the Future
The omnichannel business model may be thought of in terms of convergence – in the most general meaning of it.
Philosophically speaking, the word is converging into something common with all of its variety, no matter how paradoxically it may sound.
Look at the people around us: with so much difference in appearance and background, they all find their places in modern society without losing uniqueness.
It’s like if we all were separated eons ago and are now following in the same direction – otherwise chaotically going in different directions would tear the world apart!
It’s a major pattern that has many manifestations, with omnichannel being only one of them.