Customers are more likely to share negative experiences they had with a business than positive ones. Stories of poor customer experiences spread like wildfire and have a significant impact on your brand's reputation. In today's digital age, a single negative tweet or review can cost you thousands of potential and existing customers. So, what is it that causes so many customers to have a bad experience in the first place? One of the most common reasons is a lack of an omni-channel experience. Customers expect a consistent and seamless experience across all channels when they interact with your brand. An omni-channel customer experience ensures that multiple touchpoints seamlessly connect with one another, providing customers with a cohesive and satisfying experience.
In this article, we will learn what omnichannel customer experience is and how it can help businesses provide better experiences for their customers.
What Is Omnichannel Customer Experience In A Nutshell
Omni-channel refers to ensuring a cohesive customer experience across various touchpoints with a business. These touchpoints include physical stores, online websites, and other channels such as phone interactions or third-party retailers and e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon.
For instance, a customer may come across your products while browsing on social media. They can then click on a link that redirects them to your website, where they can further engage with an agent through a live chat window to obtain specific information about the desired product. This example demonstrates how the customer seamlessly transitions between three distinct touchpoints: the social media post, the website, and the live chat, all interconnected to provide a smooth and uninterrupted experience.
With the advent of multiple channels, businesses strive to deliver their products and services efficiently to customers while maintaining consistency.
Understanding the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multi-channel CX
Before we proceed, let's clarify a topic that often confuses many people: the difference between omnichannel and multichannel CX. Although they sound similar, there are two key differences.
- Firstly, all omnichannel customer experiences will use multiple channels, such as brick and mortar stores or online platforms. However, not all multi-channel customer experiences can be considered omnichannel.
- Secondly, omnichannel customer experiences encompass all devices across various platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and physical stores. On the other hand, multichannel experiences focus on just two to three platforms.
To better understand these differences, let's give an example. In a multichannel customer experience, customers can contact a business through its website, call center, social media platforms like Facebook, etc. They can also use traditional phone calls, email, video conferencing, SMS, or other chat messaging apps. However, from a business perspective, each channel operates independently. For instance, if a customer browses a website and searches for specific items, this search history is not shared with sales representatives when the customer visits a physical store. Essentially, each channel functions as a separate entity, without sharing or collaborating with one another.
On the other hand, the omnichannel customer experience, focuses on connecting all channels to create a unified customer experience. For example, when a customer visits a website, all their browsing activity, search history, and items added to the cart are captured. Later, when the customer visits a physical store, they are presented with personalized offers. For instance, they might see a discounted price on an item they previously browsed online. In an omnichannel experience, there is a harmonious integration of the entire customer journey across all channels, from the website and AI to social media, bots, video conferencing, email, and beyond.
Advantages of Omnichannel Customer Experience
There are several key benefits to providing a great mnichannel experience. First and foremost, it offers customers more choices. Whether they interact with your website, app, or make a simple phone call, providing a consistent experience across all channels delights customers. Nowadays, customers prefer using multiple channels to acquire products and services. Additionally, when you can maintain consistent loyalty across all channels, it enhances customer retention and loyalty.
Furthermore, collecting richer and more comprehensive customer data becomes possible. This valuable data can be utilized to create predictive analytics, enabling us to effectively anticipate customer needs even before they realize them. Most importantly, an omnichannel approach saves both time and money. With interconnected systems freely sharing information, businesses can promote agile operations and allocate resources more effectively.
Mapping the customer journey is a crucial aspect of any customer experience strategy. It allows businesses to better understand their customers, stepping into their shoes to identify pain points, frustrations, and issues. This knowledge extends to how customers search for information and various micro factors influencing their interactions with your business.
Another significant advantage is the ability to differentiate the brand and establish a unique selling point (USP). Creating a strong brand image among customers is essential for businesses. In various industries, there are established go-to players, primarily due to their strong brand image. However, for newcomers, it can be challenging to establish a distinct voice and leave a unique footprint. Nonetheless, an effective omnichannel strategy can help achieve this.
Finally, prioritizing employee experience is gaining considerable attention. Just as customer experience is vital, how employees feel about themselves and their organization plays a critical role. Employee satisfaction and engagement are key factors in delivering excellent customer service. When employees take pride in their work and feel valued by their organization, they are more likely to provide an exceptional customer experience.
By embracing an omnichannel approach, businesses can offer customers greater choice, enhance loyalty, leverage data effectively, save time and money, understand customer journeys, differentiate their brand, and prioritize employee satisfaction.
Trends To Keep An Eye On
So, what are the latest trends in omnichannel customer experience? One of the key observations is that customers now have a strong demand for instant gratification. When it comes to service-related businesses, such as accounting or taxation, online video conferencing has made it easier to deliver these services. However, the delivery of physical products presents a different set of challenges. It involves acquiring raw materials, finding suppliers, negotiating, managing inventory, warehousing, and logistical operations. The limitations of brick-and-mortar stores, where customers must physically visit to check availability and product range, have pushed customers towards digital channels.
The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the shift towards digital channels. Customers became reluctant to go out, and businesses were forced to close down. Consequently, businesses had to innovate and find new ways to deliver their products and services. Behind the scenes, a digital transformation was taking place. Companies like Amazon, for example, had already established digital platforms for browsing and purchasing products and services, offering fast and efficient delivery. Other businesses that relied heavily on physical operations had to adapt and embrace new digital channels.
Customers appreciate the convenience and empowerment of the digital experience. Instead of visiting a store, they can simply visit a website to check product availability, stock, and make immediate purchases. This digital shift enables customers to make more informed decisions, rather than assuming a store will have what they need or settling for what is available. Customers now feel empowered to use digital channels for obtaining products and services. Furthermore, they expect fast service, including same-day delivery, for both digital and physical products and services.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of a digital-first mindset and overall digital transformation. This shift towards digital channels is expected to continue growing in the future.
Seamless Omnichannel Customer Experience
There is a growing trend of seamless omnichannel customer experiences replacing the fragmented patchwork between physical and digital channels. Businesses are increasingly using technology to connect different channels and facilitate shared collaboration, leading to tighter integration and improved information sharing. However, it is now becoming evident that there is a demand for even more frictionless and seamless customer experiences.
Customers now expect brands to have knowledge about their interests, past interactions, demographics, and other relevant data, and to deliver personalized experiences based on that information. Studies indicate that over 80 percent of customers are more likely to make purchases from brands that provide personalized experiences. Additionally, there is a rising trend of merging digital and physical experiences through the use of advanced technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and similar innovations.
Immersive Experiences With Extended Reality and Artificial Intelligence
Immersive experiences using extended reality, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, are poised to play a significant role in bridging the current omnichannel gaps. One of the key advantages of digital tools like virtual reality is the ability to control every aspect of the brand's virtual world. This ensures consistent visibility and customer experiences across different countries. Moreover, personalizing the virtual world becomes much easier through digital channels compared to physical stores. Brands have complete control over how they present elements, convey values, principles, and shape their brand image to customers.
Another emerging trend is the increased presence of artificial intelligence (AI) and bots to assist customer support agents. Many websites now offer chat options that are largely powered by AI or other computerized software. This shift has been driven by the need to alleviate the workload on human customer support agents, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Implementing agent assistance systems like chatbots or AI-enabled tools that can search and aggregate data from multiple sources to provide a unified view of customers and streamline business operations has proven to be valuable. These systems contribute to agent well-being and help reduce turnover rates.
How Solwey Consulting Can Help
The evolution of the customer experience has brought about the rise of omnichannel strategies, transforming the way businesses engage with their customers. By seamlessly integrating multiple channels and touchpoints, companies can provide a consistent and personalized experience across the entire customer journey. As technology continues to advance and consumer expectations evolve, investing in an omnichannel customer experience is no longer a luxury but a necessity for businesses aiming to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
Solwey Consulting is a boutique agency established in 2016 focusing on customers' success through excellence in our work. Often, businesses require simple solutions, but those solutions are far from simple to build. They need years of expertise, an eye for architecture and strategy of execution, and an agile process-oriented approach to turn a very complex solution into a streamlined and easy-to-use product.
That's where Solwey Consulting comes in.
We help clients achieve success through excellence with expert UX/UI design and custom-tailored software solutions. Our dedicated team members are all experts in their fields, and our CEO, Dr Drach, has 19 years of software development experience and a PhD in engineering.
We deploy scalable systems using trusted cloud providers like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Heroku. Whether you need e-commerce systems, social networks, event management solutions, fintech applications, or a new CRM, our team can deliver a top-quality product that addresses your business challenges quickly and affordably.
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