Your guide to omnichannel models
Customers expect a channel-rich environment to be available to them and companies that provide the right channels in the right way are rewarded. For instance data has shown that customers are three times more likely to make a purchase when you reach out proactively through live chat.
However, companies cannot rely on merely having a multichannel strategy. Customers expect to engage with brands across multiple touchpoints, and to do so easily. They expect their experience of the organisation, its look and feel, its messaging, its availability, its answers, to be seamless and equal across different channels. So it’s crucial that channels are integrated to provide the best experience for consumers.
Omnichannel also allows businesses to integrate feedback from different sources into one platform. Insights on past preferences are taken into consideration to assist future behaviours and decision making.
Customer experience specialist Zendesk noted in its recent report that B2C companies are more likely to adopt an omnichannel approach and are quicker to do so, reaching five channels almost a month faster on average than B2B companies. According to Zendesk, for B2C firms, live channels and Facebook are the fastest growing channels in terms of ticket volume.
Abercrombie & Fitch announced plans this year to invest $50-55 million into its omnichannel capabilities.
Also this year, different retail brands including Wayfair were seen to strip out needless touchpoints in the user journey with ‘shop now’ tags on Instagram photos. One click jumps the user from the social media platform to the checkout with the desired item in tow.
According to Zendesk:
- Singapore, Mexico and the USA are the most omnichannel savvy countries.
- Norway Russia and Turkey are the least omnichannel ready countries.
- The most omnichannel industries are retail, travel and the financial services.
- Some of the least omnichannel ready verticals are consultancies, social media and marketing.
When rolling out new channels companies tend to “launch first with asynchronous channels, email and webform, then roll out self-service. “ Zendesk: notes that companies can expect a spike in ticket volume after opening a new channel, the tech expert attributes this to the new channel reaching customers that have not previously contacted support. Proactive notifications that pre-empt a user’s outreach or prompts them for something that requires immediate attention can be productive for offsetting the amount of inbound tickets.
For some time, organisations have been riding the omnichannel bandwagon. In our research last year 32 percent of practitioners planned to achieve a true omnichannel model by 2018.
However, only 10 percent of practitioners in this year's Global State of Customer Experience research could confidently claim they provide a completely seamless omnichannel experience.
“Marketers are talking “omni-channel” but are still stuck in fragmented silos with competing goals, metrics and compensation. Meanwhile, customers have increased their expectations of a buying journey with one integrated, crosschannel experience.” says Ernan Ronan, President of ERDM Corp
With rising expectations of seamless experiences with various channels, protecting and tracking the single-view of the customer is more important than ever. Failure to have a single customer-view could harm healthy relationships and make for a rather jerky customer experience. Firms can struggle to identify the same customer across multiple lines of business, due to the fact that customer data is often locked in silos. If a provider fails to connect the dots they could be at risk of process inefficiencies as well as sending communications that are anything but targeted.
The move away from an organisation structured entirely around silos – both horizontal by function and vertical by hierarchy – is a key block to building the omnichannel experience. The organisation should focus on shifting to a customer-first or customer-centric culture.
Malcolm Koh, Customer Experience Strategist at Zendesk on the subject notes: “Challenges exist as business units within an organisation tend to work in silo and have different metrics. It’s important to define what the CX strategy is within an organisation, and build common metrics and co-own KPIs to drive that among the different business units.”
This move involves reorganising away from processes and KPIs that apply to individual teams or units and instead create a united business culture that focuses on the customer’s wants and needs. Customer centricity helps to prevent a disjointed, fragmented experience of the organisation.
According to Mark Gubbins, Business Performance and Insight Manager, British Airways: “the critical thing to understand is the relative importance that the customers put on the various elements of the customer (experience) journey.” This means gaining visibility of, measuring and responding to the things that matter most to the customer, not to the organisation.
The disintegration of silos, both in terms of operation and in terms of culture, and the construct of a customer centric culture will aid the delivery of a responsive, agile customer service experience.
Multichannel to Omnichannel
The first important step to providing this omnichannel experience is distinguishing between omni- and multi-channel. Multichannel is the presence of the brand or organisation on a number of platforms. Omnichannel is the seamless, connected experience of the brand between those platforms.
Encouragingly the 2018 report found that the majority of organisations do differentiate between multichannel and omnichannel strategies and are making efforts to progress from a multi- to an omnichannel strategy. The percentage of organisations reporting to have a multichannel model in 2018 is up to 56 percent, from 49 percent in 2017. Likewise the percentage of organisations claiming to have an omnichannel model in 2018 is up to 36 percent from 32 percent in 2017.
For those still lagging behind, making this differentiation is fundamental because it paves the way for cultural change in the organisation towards a holistic view of the customer, and towards the integration of essential data sets.
Omnichannel revenue management
Organisations need to map out how channels can work together across common touchpoints and where business rules and routing can simplify their support team’s operations. When looking to improve profitability, it is important to guide your strategy by assessing the order-to-cash pathways within your model.
Traditionally, agents have been trained internally to own a channel. In his Forbes article Brad Birnbaum notes that in exchange for this the omnichannel culture asks agents to own customer relationships so they can create personal experiences across any channel. Automation and streamlined processes will help this become a reality.
Silos exist in very practical terms – in the compartmentalisation of different data sets within the organisation. Any restriction on free-flowing data throughout the organisation creates a barrier to providing a consistent customer experience. The integration of multiple data sets is key to delivering an omnichannel experience.
Customers will engage with the organisation through multiple touchpoints including website form, social media, call centre and instant messaging, and their experience of the organisation should be the same across each of those different touchpoints. A clear, open data strategy and implementation will make this possible.
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