This is the era of the customer. So, an omni-channel customer experience strategy could be a game changer for your business — as long as you keep the experience seamless and consistent across all your customer touchpoints.
Customers are constantly journeying with your brand. This includes your website, your mobile app, your stores, in their homes, through email, on social media and numerous other channels. And across this journey, every single customer is expecting an experience that’s consistent. Omni-channel Customer Experience Management (CEM) helps you track, measure and improve this experience.
Omni-channel is a word that’s been thrown around a lot these days. Given that marketers are having to come up with intelligent ways to drive customer engagement, it is a concept that is now ubiquitous. So, how does this fit right into the Customer Experience (CX) model? In order to understand this, let’s get straight to understanding the meaning of the word omni-channel.
My favorite (and most reliable) way to understand concepts that are equivocal in nature is to dig up its etymology. I like to get to the root of it. And etymologically speaking, omni-channel can be broken into two parts.
Omni simply means “all.” Channel, as we all know, is a means of expression or path of communication. Putting it together in its microscopic sense, we have it: omni-channel: An all-inclusive means of communication.
From a business standpoint, here’s the definition of omni-channel from Frost & Sullivan:
“seamless and effortless, high-quality customer experiences that occur within and between contact channels.”
This definition is straight-forward and to the point. Based on this meaning, to be truly omni-channel in your CX approach you need to make sure that the experiences that you deliver to customers are seamless, effortless and high-quality within and between contact channels, or as I call them, touchpoints.
All in all, we can understand omni-channel as a stream of communication that is open to and from the customers and the business. This should be across as many touchpoints as required, which allows for a more seamless experience. My saying is, “one brand, one experience.”
Multi-Channel vs. Omni-Channel
Many brands fall into the trap of assuming that these are the same thing. In fact, they are significantly different. In the simplest explanation, being multi-channel (in customer experience) could only mean that you collect feedback from via multiple channels or are open to communicating with your customers across multiple platforms. Like if a brand adopts mystery shopping, has a visitor’s book at the store, sends out SMSs and e-mails, etc. to its customers. They are adopting “multiple channels” to engage with their customers. This is all there is to being “multi-channel.
Being omni-channel, on the other hand, includes one crucial aspect that makes it significantly more impactful that being multi-channel. It comprises a bit more than just collecting feedback across many channels. Being omni-channel means creating an experience for your customers that is consistent across all touchpoints. In other words, omni-channel is nothing but multi-channel — but with the promise of consistency and seamlessness in the experience and messaging. No matter which channel you engage your customer on, he/she has the same experience – be it on the mobile, at the store, in-app, on the website, or wherever. It also attempts to use the data collected from different sources to get a unified understanding of the customer. This is where omni-channel takes the cake.
Challenges In Delivering An Omni-Channel Customer Experience
While more and more businesses are gearing up for the adoption of an omni-channel customer experience and its myriad benefits, a lot of them fall prey to the few challenges that haunt this exercise. By carefully planning out your omni-channel strategy, you can surpass these challenges and reap the myriad benefits that you were promised! Here are two of the biggest challenges that most businesses face while designing an omni-channel customer experience:
1. Not knowing your brand promise by-heart:
The top management’s belief in the brand promise is what trickles down to each and every employee and activity within the organization. So knowing what your brand stands for and having a tight grasp of the message you want your brand to send out is key to creating a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. Once this is taken care of, align all your customer experience activities around it. Train all your customer-facing staff (and everyone else too!) to sing the same song. Your customers should know exactly what awaits them when they bring their business to you – be it online or offline, physical or digital.
2. Not knowing your customers:
No matter what your business strategy is, your customers’ tastes and preferences are changing. So, if you wish to stick to the more traditional ways of doing business, be warned that your customers can and will move onto someone else who resonates with their choices better. Knowing who your target audience is and creating an experience with this in mind is crucial to the success of your omni-channel customer experience strategy. In today’s digital world, you cannot afford to lose out on any channel on which you can communicate with your customers.So, what does this mean to your business? In a nutshell, the more customer-centric your brand is, the more customers you’ll attract!
Think about it. If you were to do business with a brand that gives you a grand total of two platforms on which you can reach out to them, would you continue to do business with them? Especially knowing that other brands throw open the doors of communication across a dozen (or more) channels? Your customers expect more and rightfully so. This is the era of the customer. So, your omni-channel customer experience strategy could be a game changer for your business, as long as you keep the experience you deliver seamless and consistent across all the touchpoints!
Remember – one brand, one experience!