Two decades ago, it was much easier to communicate and connect with your audience. The mediums were limited, so the message was seldom lost. Twenty years later, the audience, the competition, and communication channels have been multiplied.
It has become increasingly difficult to deliver relevant information to your target audience, plus a higher probability of the message getting lost in numerous channels. This, however, is the downside. The upside is, it has become comparatively easy to create a digital ecosystem to keep audiences engaged and create a hassle-free purchase process and customer experience. This has been made possible through omnichannel customer experience.
Today, more and more companies are investing in creating an omnichannel customer experience. A report by PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80% since 2020.
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What is Omnichannel Customer Experience?
An omnichannel customer experience is a multi-channel approach of interacting with customers at all touchpoints to create a seamless customer experience. Omnichannel experience integrates various functions like marketing, sales, and support from various channels for a hassle-free, quick, and coherent experience.
A customer interacts with a brand through various communication channels. They may look up the brand on a search engine, read online reviews, browse the products on the application, check on queries with the brand on social media forums, and finally make the purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. An omnichannel customer experience will coalesce all functions to ensure that the customer’s holistic shopping experience with the brand is orderly, efficient, and satisfactory.
How is Omnichannel Different from Multichannel?
The prime difference between omnichannel and multichannel interactions is the wholly integrated approach. A multichannel approach aims at connecting with the audience on various platforms; however, the interaction is not synchronized and fails to produce the same harmonious customer experience. The omnichannel approach will integrate multiple channels to create a well-choreographed experience for the customers.
For example – A certain customer, called Mike, intends to buy a Dell laptop.
A multichannel experience will ensure that Mike can browse laptop options from Dell on the search engine, browse product specifications on the official Dell website, compare prices on an eCommerce website, watch demonstration videos, and have his questions answered by the brand on social media platforms. After this process, Mike heads out to buy the laptop at a physical store.
An omnichannel customer experience will ensure that Mike’s searches and queries are accumulated from various channels and integrated into a system. When Mike finally arrives at the store, the sales assistant is already aware of Mike’s favorite laptop models and his preferred specifications, as well as his queries. The sales assistant will be equipped to provide better service to Mike without wasting his time, thus significantly enhancing his customer experience.
Advantages of Building Omnichannel Customer Experience
- Access to Relevant Customer Data – Omnichannel customer experience involves accumulating and managing customer data from various channels. The data accumulated helps improve the overall customer experience and can also be strategically used to improve campaigns intended for targeted marketing.
- Complete Automation – Omnichannel customer experience is a completely automated process and has very little scope for errors. It also helps in identifying fake accounts and fraudulent activities effectively. Complete automation also ensures expedient, efficient, and seamless customer service and overall experience.
- Expediency and Convenience – As mentioned above, the goal of omnichannel customer experience is to ensure a seamless experience. The integration of the multichannel approach saves the customer’s precious time by repeating his requirements and concerns on all channels to various sales executives and inevitably speeds up the shopping process.
- Increase in Revenue – According to Harvard Business Review, “Customers that used more channels spent an average of 4% more in physical stores and 10% more than online single-channel customers.” The report also states that for every additional channel the customer used, they spent more money. The uninterrupted and smooth customer experience directly results in increased sales and revenue.
Winning Omnichannel Customer Experience Examples
- Neiman Marcus – Fashion brand Neiman Marcus offers an excellent example of omnichannel customer experience using geolocation. Customers can use geolocation to find out which Neiman Marcus store has the product they are looking for. The customers are also notified about upcoming events and new launches on their messages, emails, and even Facetime app.
- Orvis – This sporting goods retailer has an award-winning omnichannel strategy. Since the demographic of its target audience is 50 or older, to make them more technologically attuned, Orvis handed out tablets to its customers with its eCommerce and CRM website preinstalled. The customers could not only browse products but also request out-of-stock products from the warehouse to their preferred store. They could even make payments on the tablets of their offline purchases.
- Bank of America – Bank of America has a fully integrated website and mobile application that enables users to conduct their regular transactional activities online as well as offline. The users can also carry out complex transactions such as investments, funds, etc on these channels, which have been fully integrated with their offline processes.
- Amazon – Having firmly established its online presence, Amazon has adopted the omnichannel approach by opening Amazon pop-up shops in various malls and retail stores. The offline stores allow customers to physically inspect the products and get a free consultation or advice from in-store sales executives. The customers can either purchase products directly from the pop-up stores or their online Amazon accounts.
A Guide to Building an Efficient Omnichannel Customer Experience
- Analyze the Customer’s Journey – To deliver an efficient omnichannel customer experience, it is crucial that you fully understand your customer’s journey and connect with them on all touchpoints. You must understand the customer’s preferred platform, anticipate his response, and deliver relevant information to the customer throughout his customer lifecycle.
- Well-Defined Marketing Objectives – To create an efficient omnichannel experience, as a brand, you must align your messaging, communication, content, and design on all channels with your marketing objectives. This will help improve customer service and enhance the customer experience.
- Digital Competence – It is imperative to build a strong digital ecosystem to ensure a holistic omnichannel customer experience. According to a report by eMarketer, “Streamlined digital experiences, curbside pickup, and touchless checkout contributed to increased shopping frequency and incremental sales.” Strong digital capabilities can ensure that the buyer’s journey integrates all channels and delivers an uninterrupted customer experience.
- Improve Customer Support – Technological advances have reduced waiting time for engagement activities, be it a page-load time or for a blog or social media posting; it thus irks many customers to wait for responses, especially for a long time. To enhance both engagement and customer experience, it is important to improve customer service and reduce response time.