Why Omnichannel is the Future of Customer Interactions [And How You Can Get Started]
Give your customers the seamless, expertly integrated buying experience they expect and your company becomes the real winner.Should your company focus more on omnichannel customer service?
Stats show 64% of Americans contacted customer service at least once1 in the last month, and 47% of consumers2 admit to using three to five different communication channels to get in touch.
These communication channels, which range from social media and SMS messaging to chatbots on your site, help your brand connect with future and existing customers on their terms.
Furthermore, since 73% of customers use multiple channels3 to make their purchases, it’s in your brand’s best interest to connect these touchpoints and utilize every customer interaction to its fullest potential.
So in this resource, you’ll learn:
– What it means to go omnichannel
– Why it’s different from multichannel
– The benefits of switching to omnichannel
– How to get started
Omnichannel is more than just a buzzword in marketing, e-commerce, and customer support.
It’s the future of engaging with your customers and working them through your funnel the smart way.
What Does It Mean to Be Omnichannel?
You’ll find omnichannel referred to when it comes to omnichannel retailing, omnichannel marketing, omnichannel customer service, and more.
But what does it mean?
Omnichannel gives your customers a fully integrated, unified buying and customer support experience with your brand across all channels and devices.
The goals of omnichannel are:
– To be everywhere your target audience is.
– To capture as much customer data as possible and merge it into one central location.
Doing so will allow your business to:
– Create a cohesive, seamless, personalized buying experience that makes interactions consistent, easy, and fun.
– Better align your efforts to deliver the best customer service by giving your customers multiple ways to interact with your brand while seamlessly integrating them as one unified customer experience.
To do this, your company will need to connect and monitor customer interactions from channels such as:
– Your website
– Social media
– Retargeting efforts
– Chatbot conversations
– Brick-and-mortar transactions
While many brands have established their presence on these multiple channels, it all needs to be tied together to be called omnichannel.
What’s the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel?
Most businesses have perfected the multichannel approach.
Multichannel customer service uses several different communication channels to interact with customers separately.
With multichannel, each platform has its own individual strategy, targeting and messaging goals, response team, user experience expectations, and protocol.
But stats show customers are not into this approach as:
– 90% expect a consistent brand experience4 across all channels.
– Customers don’t want to repeat themselves. In fact, 89% of customers get frustrated5 because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives.
– 61% of customers6 admit to having difficulty switching from one brand’s channel to another, making the buying process harder.
– 87% of shoppers believe brands need to put more effort7 into providing a seamless experience.
Take an omnichannel approach and your team will no longer consider each channel a separate island.
Instead, each channel will be used together as one to foster and develop a relationship with your customer on their journey through your funnel.
Though it may take a bit of legwork to get off the ground, 94% of marketers believe providing an omnichannel experience is crucial for business success8.
Is Omnichannel Worth the Time, Money, and Effort?
When you switch to omnichannel, you’ll score these perks of cross-platform integration:
Greater control during key milestones. Just 15 years ago the average consumer only used two touch-points when making a purchase.
Now consumers use an average of almost six touch-points — and nearly 50%9 regularly employ more than four.
Providing a consistent experience across each of these access points helps familiarize customers with your brand and shows you can be relied on to deliver the organized buying experience they’re looking for.
Higher revenue. Researchers learned companies with strong omnichannel engagement methods report an average 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue10 compared to the 3.4% seen by those with weak omni.
That’s because omni makes it simple for customers to use apps to compare prices, download coupons, and engage with interactive tools like price-checkers in-store, which in turn makes it easier for them to convert.
When the habits of 46,000 customers of a major retailer were analyzed11, multichannel shoppers spent:
– An average of 4% more on each in-store shopping occasion
– 10% more online than those who only used one channel
– 13% more when they researched products before buying
This shows the more channels customers use, the more money they spend.
What’s even better is customers also tend to stick around when they know what to expect from your company (i.e., a solid, unconfusing buying experience).
Better customer support. Customers don’t want to be forced into outdated, complicated communication methods when they need help.
Customers demand companies provide multiple, easy options for outreach, at all times of the day, so they can pick the one they’re most comfortable using.
Studies highlight that:
– 91% of people say they would use self-service support if it were available
– Nearly 1/3 of customers report sending a mobile/SMS message to ask for assistance12
– 77% of customers aged 18-24 say they seek support on mobile more than once per month
The more access points you give your customers, the better your team will be at resolving issues on-time and before your customer walks away dissatisfied.
Providing customers with these options allows them to be in charge giving them a feeling of empowerment. Furthermore, customers will feel like their choices matter to the company so they’ll remain loyal rather than ditch your brand for your competition.
But as we previously mentioned, 72% of consumers say they expect customer service agents to know who they are which is why a multichannel approach isn’t enough. You need to provide your customers with multiple options to contact you while ensuring that every conversation or interaction, regardless of channel, is recorded in one place.
Higher customer satisfaction and brand promotion. When customers ask a question or voice a complaint, they expect a/an:
– Easy way to resolve the issue on their own
– Simple options to get in touch with you if they can’t
– Quick response from your team
– Understanding and empathy
– Quick resolution
Giving customers an omnichannel experience is like providing them with a dedicated customer service rep for their entire customer lifecycle.
Because agents will have a better understanding of your customers, your team will be able to better gain your customer’s trust, build a rapport, and develop deeper relationships.
Customers will even pay 68% more to do business13 with companies taking these steps to excel at customer service.
And when they’re happy, 80% of customers will refer you to their family as well as friends and 40% will praise a brand14 or its customer service over social media.
This is great news for you because a customer who promotes a positive experience has a six to 14x greater lifetime value15 for a company than a detractor.
These positive comments are better than free advertising as peer reviews and recommendations now sway consumers more than paid ads.
As customer engagement increases, customer satisfaction numbers will also rise. And that will then boost customer retention rates.
Better customer retention rates. A stellar buying experience, where customers feel empowered not only improves customer satisfaction16 and customer loyalty but also breeds repeat business.
Companies with stronger omnichannel engagement methods boast an 89% customer retention rate17 vs the paltry 33% companies with weak omnichannel strategies have.
They also average a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact18, compared to 0.2% of those skipping omni.
By collecting and analyzing your omni data, you’ll be able to send customers personalized offers, targeted ads, and more relevant content based on where they are in your customer lifecycle.
And this attention to their preferences and buying behaviors goes a long way to inspire brand loyalty.
So now that you know a few reasons why omnichannel is the future of customer interactions, read up on how to implement this strategy next.
How to Start Omnichannel
A shocking 55% of companies have no cross-channel strategy19 in place.
And the most often cited reason for that includes a lack of resources (budget, time, expertise, etc.).
So don’t get overwhelmed by the challenge of creating an all-encompassing omni method for your brand right off the bat.
Your company can start out small with omnichannel and work your way to greatness one step at a time when you follow these tips:
#1. Think About All Aspects of Your Customer’s Journey
Anticipating what your customers want and need to make a sale requires a deep understanding of their daily activities, goals, challenges, buying behavior, communication channels, and typical touchpoints through your funnel.
So if you don’t have an updated version of your buyer personas containing all this intel, work on this before moving on to the next steps.
In addition to gathering details about your target audience, you’ll also want to map out all the interactions your buyer may make with your brand, including the type of content they’ll encounter and when and where they’ll engage with it.
This will help you create a roadmap of potential interactions you can set up to flow naturally between channels.
Without feeling forced, these cross-channel interactions will embed your brand into your customer’s everyday life, and they’ll have more opportunities to fall in love with all you have to offer.
Jenny buys your product on Amazon.
Along with her purchase, your company sends a card with a discount code for items only available for purchase on your website and a link to a dedicated customer knowledge base that provides comprehensive information about your loyalty program.
Jenny checks out your website and retargeting pixels trigger for your buyable pins and remarketing ads for products complementary to her original purchase.
Jenny then receives an email with discounts or loyalty points she’ll be eligible for if she:
– Refers your brand to new customers
– Uses your hashtags to share your products on social
– Opts into your SMS
– Downloads your GPS-enabled mobile app
Keep engaging with Jenny by sending her invites for exclusive in-store product releases, or trigger location-based notifications for sales when her mobile pings nearby a store.
Overall, Jenny’s customer journey spans from Amazon to your website, social, email, and in-store.
Just one of these touchpoints handled correctly at the right time in your buyer’s journey could lead to a conversion. And when combined, they create even better odds.
After all, when RadioShack tested a mobile-optimized store locator with GPS, an estimated 40–60% of users visited a store and then 85% of them made a purchase20.
So determine these touchpoints, learn how to optimize them, and create a consistent experience that shows off your brand’s personality and unique selling points to bring the sale home.
#2. Develop a Clear Brand Image and User Experience
Your customers don’t have time to familiarize themselves with the way things work across your different channels — they just expect everything to connect and work the same way.
Each channel needs to work together in the larger scheme of your brand messaging and UX.
So they should all have a strong, recognizable brand image that lets customers know they’re in the right place. Then the user interface for each respective channel should be optimized using best practices for that platform.
All your on-site copy should align with your social language; your color palette should coordinate with carefully selected Instagram filters, and steps to find products and complete transactions should remain the same whether made from a smartphone or laptop.
That’s how you’ll guarantee consistently killer interactions for your customers every time you meet.
Taking this holistic approach requires a unified front from your company and everyone in marketing, sales, and customer service working together to achieve the same dream.
#3. Unite All Departments On a Singular Vision
In one study of over 100 B2B and B2C chief marketing officers, just 45% started implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy21 while 26% blamed poor communication and siloed organizational structures for why they haven’t started one.
If your teams work in separate silos disconnected from other departments, this needs to change to go omni.
Your sales, mobile, marketing, product development, PR, customer service, and IT teams all need to work together to create a singular customer experience and increase engagement.
Though everyone will be focused on the same goal, each individual department will be responsible for contributing their expertise to support the rest of the team.
So gather everyone around and define roles within each department, set clear expectations, and then facilitate communication to keep everyone on the same page.
You want each team to figure out how they can:
– Unify touchpoints
– Reduce pain points
– Integrate channels
– Improve and speed up the buying process
As your teams start implementing their strategies to create the ultimate customer experience, you’ll also need the right technology to make this happen seamlessly on the back-end.
#4. Research the Right Omnichannel Interface for Your Business
To truly take advantage of omnichannel, you must have the technical infrastructure to sync all your channels, collect and integrate all your data, and save yourself the time and headaches of migrations when you analyze KPIs.
The features of omnichannel interfaces differ by company so you’ll want to look for software that:
– Gathers the data your team needs, including online and offline
– Allows your team to view said data from all channels in one intuitive, single-interface dashboard
– Easily integrates with your existing CRM
– Makes it simple to add new channels as you grow
– Provides thorough reporting and analytics
– Gives your company complete ownership of your collected customer data
You may not need all the expensive features of a robust client when you’re first starting out so make sure integration with the systems you already built takes priority.
Get Started with Omnichannel Today
Creating a seamless and effortless segue between your brand’s most-used channels will lead to better customer experiences, greater revenue, and higher brand loyalty.
Plus, all the data you collect will help improve your targeting and outreach efforts to increase brand awareness and convert more often.
But these results require a coordinated upgrade of your current systems so all your customer touchpoints — from your website to your brick-and-mortar, social, SMS, and more — work together synergistically to create one awesome buying experience.
Follow these steps and you’ll skyrocket the value of every customer interaction to make switching to omni well worth the work.