Top takeaways from the Omnichannel Exec Forum

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Chanice Henry

Omnichannel forum

This month, customer experience professionals from across the globe gathered at the debut Omnichannel Exec Forum in Lisbon.

Today’s customers expect a channel-rich environment to be available and companies that provide the right channels in the right way are rewarded. Efficient omnichannel strategies have been proven to super-charge customer satisfaction rates and omnichannel customers are thought to have a significantly higher life-time value than single-channel customers. The reality is, however, that customers are frustrated by fragmented experiences. A recent study noted that 87 percent of consumers think brands need to improve to provide a seamless experience across channels.

Here we provide a brief look at lessons learned onsite at the event focused on omnichannel strategies.

Panel session on the optimum amount of touch-points to have with customers led by CX Network's Seth Adler
  1. Generation mute and the future of communication

Christoph Neut VP, EMEA, Sparkcentral looked at how B2C brands are leveraging asynchronous messaging communication channels to optimize CX, in a session called ‘Why convenience is the new loyalty’. This session presented a concept called Generation Mute – referring to the trend in which younger generations prefer messaging over calling  in comparison to their predecessors. This trend is fuelling the prediction that in a few years time the proportion of phone based conversations will plummet and the majority of customer interactions will involve machine learning, chat bots or mobile messaging.

  1. Local languages matter

In their roundtable session, Unbabel looked at the prospect of delighting customers in any language. When it comes to B2C communications English isn’t always the ultimate solution. The increasing need demand for personalization is pushing businesses to provide support in local languages. When businesses meet customers in their local language they are likely to be more thrilled with the experience and recommend to their peers. However, finding agents who are fluent in English and native in other languages can be difficult for customer support centres.

  1. Tactics to get your board on board.

This session, chaired by Ingrid C Lindberg, CEO & Founder of Chief Customer, addressed the struggles felt by CX practitioners when their board and chief execs ask companies to put the customer at the centre of their universe, but are quick to abandon this pledge in the face of other priorities or are slow to provide budget towards certain customer-centric initiatives.

Ingrid C Lindberg mentioned one method to kick-start empathy from a board member towards customer centric initiatives: Get them to solve a claim, or purchase a product or navigate an interactive voice response system that is in need of improvements. This experience will reveal the pain points and level of friction involved and they will understand this upgrade is not a nice-to-have but a must-have.

  1. ROI lead time

If a customer only interacts with a business every 18 months – for instance in the travel industry – benefits from process changes aren’t going to be recognized by the customer for 18 months. Ingrid C Lindberg reminds us that board members often don’t have the patience or the memory for that sort of lead time.

  1. Everyone needs a Chief Customer Officer on their board.
  2. Each year 43 per cent of automotive clients switch car brands
  3. Omnichannel can save money in comparison to mono-channel.

For instance, returns in store are cheaper than online. For new channels, CX practitioners may need to help customers avoid putting up barriers. To do this they will need to pull the right levers to incentivise users to adopt a channel. Enter the carrot and stick approach.

  1. Collaboration is great but validation is vital

In this session on using service design to integrate omnichannel by stitching together online and offline, Steve Kato-Spyrou - UX Manager, John Lewis examined the importance of validating concepts by using design thinking approaches.

He looked at the process of 6 up-sketching in workshops – coming up with as many ideas as humanly possible, as hearing ideas from peers can spark creativity. John Lewis uses customer centric validation techniques to deliver market leading customer experience – they put these ideas in front of their customers to see which ones are popular. In fact, customers visit the John Lewis customer hub in person four times a week to provide insight for the validation cycle followed by researchers.

  1. Entire service journey mapping: The start states and end states are never what you expect.

Steve emphasized the importance of mobilizing the right teams and empowering them to move as one cross-functional entity - this will mean giving one person responsibility to provide sign-off on decisions. In one particular project, John Lewis had a cross-functional team that was dotted all over a building, every person involved was from a different environment. This required a stakeholder map to pinpoint the inner circle and outer circle.

When embarking on tests and learns, value prop designs and channel prioritisations with design thinking the session outlined that the vision should be set in a totally unconstrained world and ask how would you want customers to think of your brand? Hypotheses should be used to create problem statements that can be addressed and prioritised according to the quickest wins and other various elements.

 Read also: Defining digital experience