Omni-channel: Where the customer leads, the brand should follow.

However good a product or service might seem on paper and even in research, it still has to make a connection with your customer to be successful. To be successful the customers’ needs must be understood in terms of their goals, mission, outlook, perceptions and journey.

The power lies in letting the consumer guide you into solutions. Consumers are constantly providing you with the insights; the challenge lies in creating the culture in your organisation to listening, discovering and interpreting the signal from the consumer.

It is about showing up for the customer when and where they need you, with ease and consistency. You need to get to know your customers and then use this knowledge to deliver valuable experiences across the entire customer journey, understanding what are the critical moments. You need to focus on creating a second to none customer experience across all these interactions and moments. People; expect nothing less than a seamless experience.

The ideal customer experience is a personalised, seamless, online and offline integrated journey for the customer which helps drive acquisition and customer retention for the business.

However, this is easier said than done…..

Briefly, the customer journeys are the experiences that your customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. This includes everything from discovery, to research, to purchasing, to customer support. And, importantly, CX looks at these from the perspective of the customer, not your business.

To improve customer experience, you need to move from touch-points to journeys.

You need to stop thinking offline and online, shopper and consumer. People (as in your potential customers) don’t think in the way that we have segmented marketing.

They think about themselves and what they want to achieve and how they are going to achieve this. Are you helping your customers achieve their objectives during their interactions with you?

Improving the customer experience is on the priority list of just about every organisation globally these days. Yet it feels like little genuine progress has been made. It is still too difficult to discover new products on the web, find product information and even purchase goods online, especially if companies were truly as customer-centric as many claim to be.

To succeed the answer lies in all the departments coming together to collaborate on developing insights about the customer, developing customer journeys and understanding transition points.

How do you deliver an omni-channel experience?

The reality is, customers expect nothing short of an omni-channel experience. The challenge is, that the ability to meet these expectations is really hard. It requires an integrated approach across the whole business to design and delivery across a myriad of customer-facing systems, processes and functions.

In an ideal world, the journey people take to become loyal customers would be a straight shot down a highway: See your product. Buy your product. Use your product. Repeat. In reality, this journey is often more like a sightseeing tour with stops, exploration, and discussion along the way. You need to be there in the moment, when consumers are making important decisions. If you aren’t your competitor will be.

54% companies don’t believe that they have a strong understanding of their customers’ behaviour across their digital channels. (Clicktale Digital CX Report 2019)

Let's be honest, most organisations are not customer aligned. While customer experience was always included as part of the marketing strategy, it usually remains ‘stuck’ there. That is, marketers believe that customer-centricity is the way forward, but the rest of the organisation remains unconvinced. Without strong CX leadership to champion the company’s initiatives and set cross-departmental goals, CX efforts typically stagnate, devolve, and disintegrate. Often CX goals either conflict or compete from one channel to another, leading to silos and a fragmented customer experience.

Steps to developing omni-channel experiences:

Build a customer focused culture

Establishing a customer-centric culture starts at the very top. Without executive-level buy-in there is a low probability of creating maximum impact for any customer-centric initiative.

• You need to develop a Customer Vision and embed it throughout your organisation.

• A well-established and clearly communicated customer vision will inspire action at every level of your organisation.

• Once your customer vision is in place, you will next move on to connecting your Employee Experience (EX) & Customer Experience (CX)

Break down silos

Most businesses do not deliver an intentional, consistent experience across analog and digital touch-points because they are treating their digital experience as its own separate entity, with its own vision, goals and cross-department strategy.

Silos are detrimental to your ability to create a customer-focused culture. They wreak havoc on your CX strategy and they cause pain and frustration for your customers, too.

One of the key benefits of CX is your ability to align your business’ goals and mission with what the customer base wants and/or needs.

Build a corporate culture that knows how to listen

The goal is to learn how to listen – not just talk – to customers.

When you listen, you understand and through understanding, you can take the appropriate steps to meet the needs of your customers.

Start everything with a core commitment to the customer

Create a laser-focus on customer experience and service as guiding strategic forces.

Don’t make assumptions or think about what makes life easy for you. It is all about your customers

A single view of customers

Most companies do not have a single view of the customer.

This means that most organisations still do not fully understand their customers and so they cannot provide an effective, personalised journey for them.

A single customer view is achieved when you are able to:

- Unify customer data across all your internal systems.

- Capture each customer's activities across all your channels and devices.

- Use this information to seamlessly engage with customer across touch-points.

Customer Journey Mapping is key

The customer journey map is a tool to visualise the experience of interacting with your organisation from the customer's point of view.

This map is critical because it forces you to look at how your customers actually experience your organisation versus how you think they do.

• The objective is to uncover pains/gaps/opportunities, and (end-goal) provide a more seamless end-to-end experience for customers.

Improving analytics needs to be a priority

Data and analytics are still silos in most organisations.

The implications of this are that marketers cannot use behaviour and sales data to take action at relevant points in the customer journey.

Suggestions for solving this issue included encouraging management to step in and coming up with a strategy to combine data across the organisation.

This approach should focus on how your organisation will obtain data instead of just buying new tools.

CX management processes need to be fixed before thinking of the technology.

Be reactive about customer churn

Despite the importance of customer experience and retention, the majorities of organisations do not analyse or model customer churn risk.

The reason for this is retention tends to be a reactive process rather than proactive.

Rather than analysing churn risk ahead of time, recognising the warning signs and preparing retention offers, many businesses only start the retention process after someone is likely to leave.

This is a missed opportunity, especially considering the technology available to analyse churn risk and automatically provide the right action or offer.

A proactive, data-based approach would likely lead to a sharp increase in retention, something every business is after.

In summary

Most businesses do not deliver an intentional, consistent experience across analog and digital touch-points because they are treating the digital experience as its own separate entity, with its own vision, goals and cross-department strategy.

Customers want to achieve a goal when interacting with you. If they achieve this goal with minimum effort and feel like a human interacting with another human, you have succeeded. You need to connect all your communication touch-points across your customer’s journey.

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