Today’s customers know nothing of boundaries. They want to buy anything, anytime, anywhere, and often use multiple channels to shop at their favourite brands.
Welcome to the ‘age of the customer’; a world where customers who use more than one channel, spend more, are more loyal than, and outnumber single channel customers. And as such, a world where for retailers omnichannel is the ‘Holy Grail’.
The path to omnichannel success is not, however, well-trodden. And although the concept is spoken about widely, it is far from being realised to its fullest potential by the majority of retailers today. Indeed, though many have embraced piecemeal solutions to meet consumer demand for multi-device strategies, many are failing to create that seamless and connected journey that customers expect from their favourite brands.
The omnichannel challenge
With so much choice available, customers are unafraid to switch brands in search of a better experience. So, if one channel in the experience chain falls short, the total customer experience is jeopardised – and more importantly, so is the customer’s loyalty. Indeed, recent research has found that 56 percent of online retail shoppers and 49 percent of offline shoppers expect consistent levels of service across physical and digital channels.
To obtain true omnichannel success, the goal is to capture the voice of the customer across the entire journey, to understand the end-to-end experience between and across channels. This will help retailers pin-point where customers are falling through the cracks, what’s working well and ultimately help to deliver a truly seamless experience for customers.
Keep in mind that the biggest challenge in analysing the omni channel is often data ownership across the organisation. It is essential that the CX team own and have access to the entire customer journey, including, in store, digital and contact centre, from beginning to end, along with readable identifiers to enable them to connect to whole process.
Connecting the dots
What follows next are the three streams of activity that are critical to building better, more seamless customer journeys:
- Navigate your way to a more thorough understanding of your customers
The key here, as with any good relationship, is to get to know your customers and develop a deep understanding of how and why they engage with individual brands. Those brands offering the best omnichannel experiences often do this through customer journey mapping – a process that systematically goes through the steps a customer takes when interacting with a brand’’ products or services.
Early in the process, encourage your customers to authenticate themselves by signing into your website. This will allow you to identify the visitor and further enable you to connect an omni channel journey. In addition, find out about your customers’ goals and top three priorities when shopping online.
- Break down the silos and use cross channel analytics
Invite customer feedback at key moments of truth – or pain – to gain better understanding of the reasons behind the pain, and set alerts to identify a customer at risk according to their feedback. Customers see companies as one – regardless of what channel they are interacting with – and expect consistency and fluidity between and across channels.
Analysing customer feedback scores together with operational and behavioural data across the entire customer journey can expose places where experiences are breaking down, highlight problems with individual channels, and identify transition points that need to be strengthened. It can also reveal patterns of behaviour that can be used to deliver special offers, personalised incentives and information to make the customer experience more enjoyable.
- Create a shared vision organisation-wide
For omnichannel programs to produce seamless experiences, teams across the organisation have to work together well to create the experiences their customers value. This means aligning around a shared goal – for example, a commitment to deliver the desired customer experience.
However, none of this is possible without clear commitment and a vision from the top. Changing an organisation’s operating rhythm requires clear direction and support from senior management in order to enable an ‘all in’ culture and help organisations truly ‘walk the talk’.
Making omnichannel omnipresent
To provide a fully consistent and frictionless omnichannel experience, companies must develop a deep understanding of how omnichannel shoppers behave. They need to know when and why customers prefer to use one device or channel over another, and what makes for a great experience in and across each of these interactions.
Silos must be broken down and retailers need to work in tandem across departments to ensure the seamless delivery of services to customers. The expectation from customers today is high, and competition is fierce so brands will need to hit the mark if they want to succeed.
By Kareena Uttamchandani, senior manager and solutions consultant at Medallia, which aims to create a world where companies are loved by customers and employees alike.