Omnichannel means at its foundation, integration. Therefore, an omnichannel strategy could also be called an integration plan. Furthermore, there are seven essential elements to your omnichannel approach that you can’t afford to forget.
Forbes once described the omnichannel experience as the point where “marketing meets ubiquity,” an apt description. Building on the Forbes concept, I say your brand promise delivered through excellent Customer Experience is what is ubiquitous.
So, what are you integrating? You are integrating your desired Customer Experience, which should be the delivery of your brand promise, throughout the different channels whether that means shopping, ordering or technical support.
Each channel and its related moment might have a fundamental difference based on how it occurs, but it should feel like part of the same experience. Therefore, every omnichannel strategy should include the following seven elements:
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The Seven Elements of Sound Omnichannel Strategy:
- Focus on effectiveness for the way the channel is used most often by customers and your operations
- Reductions of redundancies or duplications
- Optimization of the mix of channels for the customer and the company
- Streamlined processes behind the channel in operations
- Excellence in user experience for the channels featured
- Efficient allocation of resources to produce the best return for customers and operations
- Measurement of performance for each channel that drives an effort for continuous improvement
John Lewis is Omniscient about Omnichannel Strategy
John Lewis, a department store in the U.K., demonstrates these concepts, although that isn’t a huge surprise. John Lewis has a great reputation for excellent Customer Experience. For those of you not familiar with them, they are on par with Nordstrom in the U.S. Employees are now referred to as Partners since the founder, John Spedan Lewis signed away his personal ownership rights to the employees some years ago. The brand made headlines with Lewis’ self-described “industrial democracy experiment.”
John Lewis is making headlines in the Customer Experience industry again for its investment in its omnichannel experience and for good reason—four million good reasons. They are investing £4 million pounds in a new customer service initiative to strengthen its Omnichannel Customer Experience. Using iPhones, John Lewis shop floor partners help customers with info about products and inventory right from the device, no longer requiring a visit to the stockroom. Shop floor Partners can also place orders for customers. This grandiose investment is wise, particularly in a brick and mortar location.
It’s a pain point when the store doesn’t have what you need in stock. Have you been shopping and not found exactly what you wanted on the shelf, so you whipped out your smartphone and checked if Amazon had it? I have, too. We do it because we feel frustrated and disappointed—and determined to have what we want!
John Lewis assessed that moment and analyzed it. Then, they redesigned their channels to deliver on their brand promise by integrating the brick and mortar location with their online presence. Perhaps in this way, John Lewis is omniscient in their omnichannel strategy.
For Omnichannel Strategy, WWJLD?
I founded my global Customer Experience Consultancy in 2002 when Customer Experience wasn’t a thing yet. Now, the term has a certain ubiquity of its own. The term is bandied about nearly everywhere you turn. Although the awareness of Customer Experience is higher than it has even been, to my knowledge few people fully understand what it is or how to do it well. We define Customer Experience as:
A Customer Experience (CX) is a Customer’s perception of their rational, physical, emotional, subconscious, and psychological interaction with any part of an organization. This perception affects Customer behaviors and builds memories, which drive Customer Loyalty and affects the economic value an organization generates.
Excellence in Customer Experience is a constantly moving target, determined by the best Customer Experiences out there regardless of industry. So, even if you are a car mechanic, your customers are comparing you to the service they get at the Ritz Carlton hotel. Therefore, excellent Customer Experiences are a process, not an event.
You are never done improving your Customer Experience. You are always assessing and analyzing, and then, redesigning and implementing. Then, you rinse and repeat. An omnichannel strategy that includes the seven elements above should be part of this cycle as well.
Most organizations learn the significance of a robust omnichannel strategy moments after experiencing what happens when they don’t have it. These moments are often painful and damaging to the relationship with customers. Rather than following in those agonizing footsteps, remember what is essential to your omnichannel strategy—and ask yourself, “What would John Lewis do? (WWJLD?)
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