Why the omnichannel model matters
What is the most important experience that consumers want when interacting with brands and organisations? How can businesses adapt to meet those high demands and attain customer satisfaction? Here we explore why omnichannel is so vital and the ways to implement it in your customer experience strategy.
The 2018 ‘Global State of Customer Experience’ report investigates the issues that customer experience professionals are finding most pressing and the opportunities that they are prioritising. As highlighted in the report, the thread running between the different challenges and opportunities pinpointed is digital transformation.
Oliver Kipp, Chief Customer Officer, MaritzCX explains, “Today, the digital age has spawned new service and communication channels – online, mobile, social. This channel assortment makes it challenging for companies to deliver the consistent, seamless experience that customers expect.” That consistent experience is achieved when organisations operate an omnichannel model.
Static to active
In “The Inevitable”, a book about the twelve technological forces that will change our future, Kevin Kelly, technology journalist and former executive editor of Wired magazine, explores the concept of ‘Flowing’. He predicts a future where information, media, products and services, flow between screens or interactive environments, and consumers are able to engage seamlessly as they move between the different screens.
We are already experiencing that reality in some fields. When we consume music our playlists jump from phone to home device to car without the need to register, search and play at each move. And this trend – towards flowing - will continue. 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.
Customers highly value this type of accessibility. Kelly recommends, “New organisations need to save their customers and citizens time. They need to do their utmost to interact in real time.”
Multi to omni
The first important step to providing this omnichannel experience is distinguishing between omni- and multi-channel. Multi-channel is the presence of the brand or organisation on a number of platforms. Omnichannel is a seamless, connected experience of the brand or organisation between those platforms.
Encouragingly the 2018 report found that the majority of organisations do differentiate between multi-channel and omnichannel strategies and are making efforts to progress from a multi- to an omnichannel strategy. The percentage of organisations reporting to have a multi- channel model in 2018 is up to 56%, from 49% in 2017. Likewise the percentage of organisations claiming to have an omnichannel model in 2018 is up to 36% from 32% 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.
Silos to customer centric
The move away from an organisation structured entirely around silos – both horizontal by function and vertical by hierarchy – is another key block to building the omnichannel experience. Instead the organisation should move to a culture of customer first.
This 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.
Data sets to open data
There are also silos that 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.
Oliver Kipp, Chief Customer Officer, MaritzCX says it is essential to “understand the often complex digital footprint” of the customer through the use of tools and technology. Solid customer insights, shared across different business units will enable a smooth experience for the customer.
The flowing organisation
Customer expectations are high, and those expectations are often set by nimble, agile businesses. These businesses can provide exceptional service because they have a fluid structure for their workforce and their technology, rather than a clunky, unresponsive and out-of-date operation.
Thomas Reby, Senior Strategy Manager, Google, describes the potential of the omnichannel experience as the “move away from the traditional view of customer interactions to a more dynamic flow of information”. His words are echoed by Kevin Kelly who suggests that organisations need to ‘liquefy’ their technological infrastructure in order to remain relevant to customers and deliver the services that they expect.
The move to an omnichannel model starts with understanding the importance of the model, and the rest flows from there.
Interested in more content focused on omnichannel strategies? Visit the dedicated omnichannel content hub here