By Daniel Bishop
The emergence of new technologies has radically changed the way companies communicate with their customers and vice versa. Companies have gained a number of new channels they can use to reach new prospects, market their products, and create communities around their brands. As for consumers, they now have multiple new alternatives on how to contact brands, and they’re usually just a click or tap away from them.
A lot of businesses have managed to use this new convenience to their advantage, by adopting an omnichannel approach. This means they may use many different channels to communicate with their customers and prospects. However, unlike a more primitive multi-channel approach, omnichannel strategies entail that the usage of various channels is well-orchestrated, harmonized and integrated to provide a unified experience.
It’s very indicative that companies with strong omnichannel engagement retain almost 90% of their customers, while those that are not as devoted to this task manage to retain only 33%. This is partly due to the great effect this strategy has on customer experience (CX). Let’s see what it means in more detail.
Improved presence and accessibility
New digital platforms, especially social networks, offer businesses a chance to serve their customers right where they are. Nowadays companies need to understand why and how to use social media marketing that helps to attract new customers. Improved digital presence boosts your visibility, especially in combination with good targeting. It’ll be much easier for potential customers to notice you this way. This is not just in accord with simple common sense, but it’s also a fact backed by research.
Research done by Omnisend shows that marketers who use at least three channels in their campaigns bring in a 287% higher purchase rate than those who use a single channel.
Being accessible is equally important for new and old customers alike, as people get easily frustrated by any additional actions they have to make to reach you or buy from you. Especially with countless alternatives available.
Finally, by being present and campaigning through multiple channels, you’re increasing your chances of diversifying your audience and your customer base. Different target groups use different means of communication and different sources of information, so the omnichannel approach can be very valuable, especially if your product or service is aiming at a wider population.
Using a number of different social networks, e-commerce platforms, apps or websites is not only beneficial because it brings in more sales. It also allows your business to collect crucial customer data that can be used in various ways.
Of course, in order to make sense of a large body of data that can be collected through all these different channels, you’ll need reliable CRM software to categorize it and interpret it. Customer behavior data obtained in this way can reveal some general trends that will help you with planning the next line of products or modifying some of the current ones.
These pieces of information will also tell you a lot about the effectiveness of each one of your campaigns, showing you where most of your audience comes from or who your best buyers are. Well-processed data can even indicate flaws in your website’s design or point to certain elements of shopping experience that need to be improved.
Apart from identifying general trends, brands can use customer data to ensure better CX on an individual level. This goes beyond mere segmentation – intelligent software can recognize behavior patterns so well that it can successfully adapt the content, ads and special offers to every particular user.
In order for these data to be conclusive and accurate enough, it’s of huge importance to collect them from many different sources. Only this way you will be able to offer a truly nuanced experience that will engage individual users.
Personalization is starting to play a huge role in the way business is done online, with a tendency to further grow in importance. People have recognized how easy it is for brands to offer them customized experiences and now they’ve started taking them for granted. Namely, 63 percent of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service and you really don’t want to disappoint them.
Part of the personalized experience is definitely offering them to reach you and shop through any channel they’d like. Besides that, having a first-rate product recommendation algorithm will be a huge boost both to the CX you offer on one side and your conversions and sales on the other.
Take Amazon for example, 35% of their revenue comes from product recommendations. Therefore, having all the data you can get from all the sources you can use is of utmost importance.
As in other areas of CX, new technologies are responsible for raising the bar in the field of communication and customer service as well. Today, customers are not only expecting a 24/7 service, but they’re also expecting they can find you and reach you in any possible way, online or offline.
In other words, instant reachability is one of the basic demands of a modern consumer. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need a separate customer service rep for every channel your brand utilizes.
Chatbots can take some weight off your shoulders, especially with simpler questions and requests. Moreover, a quality CRM software can make sure your customer service reps can handle calls, SMS and live chats across multiple social networks all from a single dashboard. So, this doesn’t have to be as much of a hassle as it might seem at a first glance.
By offering great customer service when and where your customers want it, you’re doing great things for your customer retention rates. This is critical as returning customers tend to spend much more and the costs of acquiring new ones are 5 times larger than the costs of persuading the old ones to buy again.
Consistent shopping experience
A single customer journey can include different channels or devices, and consumers have quickly become used to this fact. Switching back and forth already comes naturally to them and, as we have already mentioned, brands need to make sure they can use the channels they find the most convenient at any given time.
However, it’s not just about being present and reachable via these channels. Top-class CX is also about providing a consistent experience to the users throughout their journey. Consumers want transitions between the channels to be smooth and as much as 72% of them say that they’d rather connect with brands that offer a more seamless experience in this respect.
It’s important to have in mind that an omnichannel strategy goes beyond the digital realm. Your brick-and-mortar store, if you have one, as well as other offline experiences you provide to your customers have to be in accord with the online ones. More and more brands are looking to fuse the two worlds in their stores.
Take Oasis, for example, where sales associates equipped with iPads give customers accurate product information, help them with ordering products, speed up the payment process and make their life much easier in general.
Finally, your customers will get disappointed if they need to repeat themselves to various representatives. That’s why integration here is crucial, not just in the sense of context or visual design, but also in terms of communication. They need to have a feeling that these multiple channels have the same source and same entity behind them. Otherwise, the experience you’re offering will only make them frustrated.
To sum up, there are multiple reasons why you should consider a comprehensive omnichannel approach for your business. A truly integrated experience will undoubtedly make your customers happier and you will have a great chance to boost your brand image long-term.
Providing a distinguished experience to your customers will also bring great benefits to your company. CX is what drives people back to brands and makes them trust you.
The data you collect in the process may be crucial for the further development of your business as it will ensure that you get to know your customers and offer them better experiences. And with the development of digital technologies that support this approach, a well-designed and well-executed omnichannel strategy will very soon become a necessity for brands of all kinds.
Daniel Bishop started his career in digital marketing by working for a few local companies. After a year or two of learning different aspects of the job, he moved on and worked for DesignRush as a content advisor. He now works for Really Simple Systems as an assistant editor and marketing consultant. Away from writing, he enjoys drinking good coffee and Otis Redding.