Is omni-channel the right way forward

23, February 2017

Is omni-channel the right way forward?

If you were asked to imagine a chair placed in front of you, this is what you would have done. You would perhaps have thought of a comfortable armchair, an ergonomic reclining chair with wheels for the workplace, a rusty old wooden chair that you saw outside your apartment or a chair with a desk attached that you used at school. All of these chairs have only one thing in common: it is four-legged. While the structure of it remains, it is innovatively worked upon to suit various needs, situations or trends.

Likewise, a structural buying cycle includes the stages of identifying the need, product/service research, comparison among brands, through to purchase and post-purchase retention.

For instance, you decide to renew an insurance policy and start looking up if your bank offers this service at the best price. Once you freeze on a policy type, you choose to visit the bank to take up the insurance policy. The representative informs you the kind of policy chosen doesn’t exist anymore. This forces you to start the process from scratch or creates the need to look for other alternatives.

Now let’s take it back to the purchase stage. In the digital world, you wouldn’t have to start all over if a service isn’t available. You could contact your bank by means of a phone call and take it up further either through a chat or video call or perhaps on a laptop instead. The communication transition doesn’t get lost when switching devices, thus helping brands achieve higher levels of customer experience. This is what we call an omni-channel customer experience.

But often times there’s a confusion between omni-channel, cross-channel and multi-channel customer experiences. All of these forms deal with the mediums of communication that customers choose to interact with or receive information from a brand.

At first, there was multi-channel

The customer knew all mediums of communication in siloes. They would see an advertisement in the newspaper while others would visit a retail store of the brand. These were individual sources that gave out information and the messages almost always didn’t have anything tying it to the other.

All businesses have gone through this stage when they started off. And multi-channel marked the beginning of the evolution of channel-based experiences. Over time things changed.

 

Multichannel

Then came cross-channel

As the sale of smartphones started accelerating, brands realized that they could reach out to customers at any time and through mediums that involved both digital and traditional ones. The only catch that they had to look into was unifying and streamlining the messaging that was being featured across.

Now we speak omni-channel

With digitalization taking over the way we interact with people and brands on a daily basis, customers have become the primary focus area. From unifying the message, brands are creating smooth experiences across platforms to make it a convenient and hassle-free experience for customers.

As the rate of usage of smartphones is drastically increasing, there is always an immediate access to information. With the ability for customers to pick up where they left off on any device and also be in constant touch with the brand, the omni-channel way has essentially become about the true continuity of the experience. They choose the medium that’s appropriate for them to find quick answers to their problems.

Is omni-channel customer experience changing the structure of how customers interact with brands?

A customer’s main objective when interacting with a brand would be to have an easy-flowing conversation with no interruptions and loss of information. Omni-channel customer experiences do just that but in a seamless manner.

How will it help businesses?

As businesses grow there is a need to keep up with trends to ensure they don’t fall behind. Their objectives could include growing to a larger scale, increasing brand awareness/ visibility, increasing sales and being a leader in the market. But their hidden objective would be to connect with their customers all the time. Omni-channel technology helps businesses meet their end objectives in the following ways:

a) Focusing on the customer journey

Keeping the customers’ point of view in mind, personalized experiences could be a value addition to provide high qualities of customer service. This makes certain that customers come back for more.

b) Delivering consistent customer experiences and building brands

As customer experience has become the differentiator in business, omni-channel communication proves to be the driving force that gets you ahead of your competition. The integration of communication channels ensures customers are attended to from start to finish of their journey either with self-service automation technology or a customer care representative.

c) Collecting customer data and gaining insights

Omni-channel customer experience gives customers the ability to access different streams of information anywhere and at any time. From tracking the time of day or year customers purchase items to tracking the demographics of loyalists or the devices customers ideally use to look up products/services, each individual transaction has a lot of data to capture.

This gives businesses large amounts of data to play with and gain insights using analytics tools. These tools provide capabilities to understand customers, meet their needs and improve customer experience.

 

Customer Data and Insights

d) Easily communicating with customers

While creating a seamless experience on all communication channels is the ultimate goal, brands can easily touch base with their customers or attract new ones by using methods of cross-selling and upselling. This tailored approach of reaching out to customers sees higher productivity in sales and awareness.

e) Maximizing contact center productivity

An omni-channel strategy gives customers easy access to information either through videos, chat, social media channels, web pages or self-service applications. This helps agents focus more on complex cases and maximize the contribution.

And most importantly how does using omni-channel communication help customers?

Omni-channel customer experience was designed keeping the intentions of the customers in mind. And with the current buzz that CX has created in the market, customer expectations are on the rise. In order to stay ahead of competition, brands are constantly using innovative methods to keep their customers happy. This could mean customer loyalty reward programs, investing in customer delight activities and investing time to solve the problems faced by customers.

Not just that with its implementation across mediums, it ensures:

– Access to information at any time
– Feeling of pride when they see that they matter
– Control actions in activities they take up
– Faster problem resolution times

As omni-channel communication continues to expand and spread among businesses, it may become extremely difficult for brands to keep up with the demands and expectations of customers while also providing seamless customer experiences. For this, you would need the help of an expert who has worked in the omni-channel domain.

Reach out to us for more information on omni-channel customer experience.

 


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