What is Omnichannel? Defining Omnichannel and Customer Experience
February 15, 2023
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Customer expectations around omnichannel have never been higher. Todayâ€™s customers want to buy quickly and comfortably through an integrated experience. They can visit your retail store, send a direct message on Instagram, or contact a sales rep via phone. Customers expect these channels to be always open, and there is a strong anticipation that their experiences will be consistent in quality, no matter when or how they choose to enquire or shop. Creating an omnichannel customer experience, therefore, is essential in todayâ€™s constantly connected economy. Companies that provide strong omnichannel experiences can retain up to 89% of their customers, which is key to long-term business success.
Letâ€™s look at how omnichannel works and using it as a base of your customer experience can help you increase profits and boost loyalty.Â
What Is Omnichannel?
Omnichannel is the approach of leveraging all of your marketing channels to provide one, unified experience to your customers. This means each channel works together to present a consistent voice, message, or brand for your company. Businesses that use omnichannel as the base of their customer experience consider interactions in multiple channels (in-person, text-chat, social media, etc.) as part of one unified customer journey. The overarching goal is to ensure that customers receive the same level of responsiveness and service regardless of the medium they use to get in touch with the company.
There are several benefits to building an omnichannel customer experience. Here are just a few:
Improves Customer Satisfaction
If a consistent experience is delivered across all channels, customers can use the channel they prefer. This helps them form a deeper connection with the company and ensures they keep coming back. Plus, the option to communicate through their favorite medium empowers customers to interact in a way that feels natural to them. All of that helps improve customer satisfaction.Â
Enhances Overall Earnings
When the experience you provide matches customersâ€™ expectations, they are more inclined to stick around and do business with your company. In fact, a study cited by the Harvard Business School has shown that even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a companyâ€™s annual earnings by up to 95%. Hence, the cohesiveness offered by an omnichannel experience can be a significant contributor to company growth.
Boosts Employee Productivity
Imagine trying to resolve an issue with no background, in a short time span. And if you fail, you risk jeopardizing the customerâ€™s experience. Thatâ€™s the kind of pressure your customer-facing agents routinely face. By creating an omnichannel strategy, you remove that source of stress for your employees. Agents tasked with the responsibility of handling omnichannel relationships have a holistic context of customer interactions, which can help them find patterns, improve first contact resolution and deliver personalized customer service.Â
Builds Competitive Advantage
Delivering an omnichannel customer service experience gives a leg up on companies who still try to scale with siloed systems and channels. If employees struggle to gain insights from multiple, disconnected channels, theyâ€™re not empowered to deliver experiences that customers have come to expect. Modern omnichannel breaks down the silos for you, your team, and your customers. It interlinks every channel for seamless customer interactions. And, it uses cross-channel data to inform every insight.
Omnichannelvs Multichannel Customer Experience
Most companies use multiple channels to interact with their clients. However, having multiple channels doesnâ€™t necessarily translate into an omnichannel experience.
For example, a buyer may visit your website and browse a product or service. Then, they may visit your office or physical shop in person to make a purchase. However, if your staff isnâ€™t aware of their past behavior (or canâ€™t find the product), the customer is most likely to leave and never come back. This is where you managed to create a multichannel experience for your client (since they were able to interact with your brand through your website as well as your physical store) but missed out on omnichannel.
An omnichannel approach aligns all touchpoints to deliver integrated shopping experiences. For example, your support staff has a detailed record of all the past interactions a customer has had with your business. Whether they contact you first via Instagram, WhatsApp, phone, email, or live chat, omnichannel provides a single, unified overview of their activity. No need to speculate about their past issues or interest in a particular product or service.
Ultimately, omnichannel makes the customer journey a whole lot easier for both clients and businesses. Clients are more likely to become loyal when they get a personalized shopping experience, and support agents are bound to get an efficiency boost when they have past data and real-time context at their fingertips.
Pro tip: Your company probably has a multichannel strategy in place. A large part of making a shift to omnichannel is about incentives and resources. Resist strategies that claim to maximize sales on key channels regardless of the state of customer experience on adjacent/supporting channels. Stakeholder buy-in is also critical.Â
Tips for Creating an Omnichannel Customer Experience
So, how can your company cater to omnichannel needs and deliver unforgettable customer experiences? Here are some tips.
Document the buyer journey
Categorize customers by identifying where their journey starts and every touchpoint on the path to purchase. By determining instances of friction, you can modify the shopping experience in different channels to provide convenience and boost conversions. The process requires you to create a unified brand message, i.e. all your channel experiences should have the same feel whether the customer begins his/her journey at your store or on your Facebook Page.
Feedback can significantly improve the buyer journey. The best way to collect feedback is to send surveys via email or live chat. You can also configure pop ups that prompt customers to rate their experience as well as give suggestions once theyâ€™ve made a purchase. Consider using tools like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms to create intuitive feedback forms to send to your customers. Post-sale feedback will help you personalize customer experiences, which in turn will drive repeat business.
Creating an omnichannel customer experience is not a short-term process. Youâ€™ll need to collaborate with the teams that play a crucial role in enhancing the customer experience, such as your IT, product, sales, marketing, and customer service teams. Youâ€™ll also need to get buy-in from all team leaders to ensure everyone is on the same page. The sooner you start communicating, the easier itâ€™ll be to identify potential issues in the current setup and reshuffle resources where needed. A smart strategy is to align experiences on your key channels first, then expand your omnichannel footprint to other channels once your teams start thriving as a single unit.Â
Focus on Building Relationships
A well-crafted omnichannel strategy adopts a long-term approach to pleasing customers instead of achieving short-term profits. By forming and nurturing genuine relationships with them, you can get your customers to advocate for your business. One way to do this is to create tailored loyalty programs for your best customers. Another is to deliver personalized offers based on the transaction activity of each customer, showing them that youâ€™re aware of their journey and want to make purchases convenient for them.Â
Powering Customer Experiences with An Omnichannel Engine
In an ideal world, all the resources needed for delivering an omnichannel customer experience would be plug-and-play, but the reality is far from different. As organizations evolve to take on more channels, most of the resources are being deployed in silos. In other words, thereâ€™s a disconnect between the platforms required to achieve a fully integrated omnichannelexperience. Also, most multichannel organizations are running multi-vendor systems that have been implemented in a way that the individual platforms are not interconnected.
Thatâ€™s why many enterprises are exploring solutions like ShopDevâ€™sOmnichannel Engine (OE). OE is a robust, cloud-based omnichannel ecommerce platform with intuitive capabilities that boost business growth and companiesâ€™ most pressing KPIs. It integrates with leading ERP, ecommerce, POS, and courier applications to sync and aggregate product data across multiple sales channels, enabling an equally seamless experience across every stage of the buying journey. When a customer places an order, OE immediately updates product information in real-time on all platforms, ensuring that future customers are always presented with an accurate and consistent representation of products.
The core of the OE platform is OMS (Order Management System) and IMS (Inventory Management System). OMS is an end-to-end online order management workflow that enables you to manage fulfillments seamlessly, from the point of order placement to assigning it to a relevant vendor, arranging delivery with a courier, and tracking its final status. It also integrates with leading B2B and B2C ERPs to help automate invoicing and much more.Â
IMS, on the other hand, is an integrated workflow that takes the guesswork out of tracking your inventory. Instead, youâ€™re presented with a real-time overview of your stock levels in multiple warehouses. Cloud-based processes also facilitate high-volume operations while keeping duplicate files and security risks at bay. The system also contains features to quickly perform stock audits that spot discrepancies and help you avoid issues using your past sales data. OE also has four other modules on top:
Customer Loyalty Engine
Hereâ€™s a brief summary of each:
Built on OE, the Segmentation module allows you to optimize marketing, sales and inventory management through machine learning. Assessing purchase history, product preferences, web behaviors, and other analytics gives you the ability to create customer segments and target lookalikes to discover untapped revenue. Plus, you can leverage historical data analysis, forecasting and recommendations to manage your inventory more efficiently. Quantify segment-based costs, average order value, and more to determine profit potential and capitalize on data-driven opportunities.
Another integral part of the Omnichannel Engine, the recommendation module allows you to optimize inventory management through forecasting, historic data analysis, and recommendations. These omnichannel recommendations are made based on data such as customer demographics, purchase behaviors, and situational context. Additionally, the module presents you with an opportunity to upsell and cross-sell based on available data and target lookalike audiences to capture untapped revenue.Â
Customer Loyalty module
This is a robust, technologically advanced solution that allows you to build and implement smart loyalty programs across both offline and online retail channels. At the heart of the Customer Loyalty module is a 360-degree view of behavioral information and customer profiles, which help businesses deliver personalized customer experiences through tailored promotions and activities.Â Â
The replenishment module offers multi-echelon reorder points for all SKUs at your fulfillment centers. User-defined intelligent algorithms allow it to ensure the stock can be automatically and dynamically shuffled between the userâ€™s warehouse and stores (as an automated process with scalable options). Both B2B and B2C companies can utilize this advanced system to view and streamline their replenishments so that the right stock reaches the right stores at the right time.
OE also drives several omnichannel operations, such as click and collect. As todayâ€™s buyers can search for and order items within minutes without even going into a store because of online shopping, fulfillment is becoming more critical to the buying journey. OE helps to optimize this segment of the supply chain by converting all the physical stores into fulfillment centers and letting customers collect their orders at a time of their choosing.Â
Businesses that operate in densely populated areas can especially benefit from offering click and collect as part of their omnichannel customer experience. The closer proximity of consumers to shops translates to greater convenience for them to collect their online purchases.Â
The omnichannel experience is a necessity in todayâ€™s competitive economy. Integrated experiences are especially ideal for enterprises who donâ€™t have time to serve customers on a one-to-one basis. Omnichannel makes this convenient by connecting offline and online channels to work in conjunction to present a unified experience to your customers. Companies who interpret omnichannel data and leverage solutions like Omnichannel Engine are destined to be winners. As we move into a new dimension of customer experiences, the experience, relationship, channel cohesiveness and service will all determine whether you succeed in delighting customers at scale.
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