An omnichannel strategy works to create a seamless customer experience across every channel. Some insiders call it the “new normal” and others focus on its application in retail alone.
However, multi- or omnichannel strategies are about more than just the form factor of the technology, it’s about achieving three goals — integrated, customized, and complementary approaches to how consumers think, research, and make modern, tech-enabled decisions.
Let’s be clear, your omnichannel strategy should go beyond customer centricity or selling across all channels. It should address the total experience throughout individual customer journeys, as well as the entire customer lifecycle.
Four Mistakes We See with Corporate
One: Planning an omnichannel strategy that centers mainly around technology.
What drives the omnichannel decisions that you make? We see that many organizations are inspired by the available technology rather than from consumer experience, habits, and preferences.
When channels are created, they are, either, adding breadth or depth to the customer experience. Decisions center around what’s new or cool rather than what fits with the way your customers trigger communication or action with you – via phone, text, email, web, apps, physical mail.
Technology should follow decisions around triggers – inputs, and outputs – that engage between your organization and the customer.
Considerations for which technology you should include can also come from looking at new and novel channels, but the decision to add them to your omnichannel strategy should come at the request of customers or from input that indicates a shift in preferences.
Two: Creating customer experiences from a very narrow view.
Some organizations create apps, online experiences, as well as supporting systems and operational procedures, by looking just at one aspect of the customer journey. For example, they may focus most of their efforts on social media advertising and the online store or portal without looking at customer service, help desk, or voice support measures.
Your omnichannel strategy should address the nature of all interactions; not just how your customers buy, but also how you provide support and service in a helpful and unobtrusive way.
Three: Forcing customers to fit into your omnichannel strategy rather than fit their preferences.
An omnichannel strategy that ignores the preferences of its customers is doomed to miss opportunities to turn around bad experiences, capture add-on sales, or provide the type of service that you promise in your online and offline marketing.
You have an opportunity to plug into the ecosystem that surrounds your customers – beyond their mobile devices to capture voice assistants and wearables, for example.
Often overlooked, these channels can be your brand’s concierge, providing a feedback loop for seizing the literal voice of the customer data and real-world experience, revealing insights into how they interact with your products and services.
Go beyond a branded app, but demonstrate how you fit your strategy into their existing ecosystems. Alexa skills, QR, or Visual AI and AR can help generate a new perspective on how your customers use your information and interactions in their day-to-day lives.
To illustrate the power of this point, look at how a simple example shows how much can be lost in a typical service interaction.
Imagine a consumer has an issue with a broken product that needs support, like a snow blower that has a broken thrower.
Today’s savvy consumer, most often, turns to a YouTube video to see how to repair it. That whole interaction (and opportunity to delight) is lost to you, as the snow blower manufacturer, retailer, or service provider.
Now, imagine an ad on YouTube for your augmented reality (AR) support video that allows for an augmented diagram with a blow-out visual of typical replacement parts with the ability to order directly.
This version helps you fulfill the support request directly, garner an add-on parts sale, and provide education and stellar engagement in the way your customer seeks out information. Additionally, you gain customer data and build a virtual relationship with your brand.
Four: Inadequately addressing interoperability across the customer journey.
How seamless are your channels and experience as customers move from one to the other – from clinic or store to web-based to social and call center?
It’s important to map out the typical customer journey, (see our piece on value stream mapping) as well as the inputs and outputs that are triggered throughout the customer journey and lifecycle.
Figure 1: Sample Omnichannel Trigger Inputs and Outputs
Creating a broad and deep omnichannel strategy highlights the potential for a chaotic web of interactions and missed opportunities with customers or a seamless, interoperable, and complimentary experience customized to the customer’s preferences.
Our final pearl of wisdom? Analyze the ways your customers typically engage with you and for what reasons. Map the customer lifecycle and the individual touchpoints within the journey, and highlight those channels that require more breadth or depth to fit into the customer’s preferences.
Meet them where they are now and look for clues as to which channels will meet their evolving needs into the future.