5 key factors for an exceptional omnichannel customer experience
An exceptional customer experience is more than the sum of its parts: you need to orchestrate and architect every interaction, across all channels, to create an experience that flows and that keeps customers satisfied and coming back for more.
Through our experience in projects aiming to achieve just that, we have identified 5 key factors to a winning omnichannel customer experience.
Today’s consumers are time-strapped, and this means that convenience is not just a benefit—it is central principle of a strong customer experience. Customers are lazy. Think how you can save their time, lower their effort to buy from you and make life easier for your customers. As we are all creatures of habit, improving convenience will result in customers coming back for more.
When you think of Amazon, you might think of low prices and big selection. I can name dozens of other companies, both online and brick-and-mortar that do the same thing. Amazon knows it competes with all retailers. So, they broke out of the low price and big selection game with convenience. They want to save time and make life easier for their customers. They created the Amazon Prime program that gets merchandise shipped to you, without shipping charges, in two days or less. They created the Dash button that allows you to purchase merchandise with the simple push of a button. They want to eliminate as many steps as possible from the time a customer is thinking about purchasing a product until that product is delivered. Speed and simplicity is what they are about.
Zalando now picks up returns at your doorstep, no need for the hassle of going to the postal office to send back your returns, enhancing the convenience of buying and build-ing competitive advantage over other online retailers.
Today customers expect convenience. They expect to view the same pricing online and offline, they expect to be able to buy online with a few clicks and pick up in-store or buy in-store and get goods delivered to their door. Etc.
We see companies investing heavily in convenience however, only a third of companies have operationalized even the basics such as store pickup, crosschannel inventory visibility, and store based fulfillment, return handling etc.
Consistency is vital when building a true omnichannel business, it may not seem sexy, but consistency is the secret ingredient to making customers happy. It is also indispensable to create experiences based on a unified brand presence that consumers can trust. However, it’s difficult to get right and requires top-leadership attention.
Customers want to have confidence that you will deliver on your promises every time, not just when it’s convenient. You need to consistently deliver good products and services across your organization, you need to mean what you say and say what you mean.
Customers expect a product and service offering to be the same across multiple channels, they expected support to be consistent across online, offline, and social touchpoints.
Companies largely still operate in silos, which by design introduces friction into the customer journey. Each department often acts as on its own, designing and managing their respective touchpoints differently and adhering to deferring standards and metrics thereby causing challenges in ownership, responsibilities, etc.
Customer-facing departments don’t talk to one another. Marketing doesn’t talk to product development. The digital or web support teams talks to customers via a ticketing system. And everyone seems to be bypassing the value of IT.
The traditional customer funnel mindset contributes to the problem. Customer journeys are no longer linear. The steps that are supposed to guide customers through each stage of engagement are distributed across different departments and the people that support them.
Building consistency throughout the complete non-linear customer journey means focusing heavily on end-to-end processes, policies, guidelines and restructuring all teams to be able to collaborate together to provide a consistent experience from sales towards support and IT.
The new consumer expects interactions to be real-time, highly personalized, and tailored to buying preferences, transaction history, and user behaviors. Consumers would share personal details and are comfortable with brands collecting personal data in the name of creating a personalized customer experience. Data analytics can really boost the personalized experience. You can use data mining to autonomously tell you which offers to make to which customers with a full explanation as to why. By using predictive analytics, you are able to deliver custom-tailor messages to specifically meet individual needs of your customers.
You can create behavior-based segmentation to find trends and make custom recommendations. Use all data insights to further increase your segmentation. This builds more relevant content based on what the customer wants to receive.
Using data to enhance your relevance is not only imperative internally to gain a clear, value-based understanding of your customer base but also to your customers to ensure a highly personalized customer experience. Data allows you to show your customers how much you care on an individual level and ensure loyalty for years to come.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Did you know that revenue for most companies comes from 20% of their loyal customers? That cross-sell and upselling to a prospect is 5%-20%, whereas the probability with an existing customer is 60% – 70%?
Most organizations understand the basic truth that even the best customer experience strategies can be derailed if customer-facing employees don’t do their part. Your workforce is the lifeblood of the company and your primary point of contact with customers. Employees can make the company, the service and the customer experience look fantastic—or not. When service suffers, the challenge isn’t in deciding how valuable your employees are, it’s determining why your employees aren’t executing the customer service strategy you’ve laid out.
All too often, bad customer service is written off as apathy, laziness or an unwillingness to comply with company expectations. That may or may not be accurate but the reality is that these problems are usually symptoms of a different issue entirely—a lack of em-ployee empowerment. If the people you hire to interface directly with customers don’t have the authority or the resources to ensure a positive customer experience, it’s virtually certain they won’t be able to deliver superior service. Conversely, if an employee is put in a position to succeed and meet the customer’s needs at every touch point, your chances of maintaining a contented customer base increases exponentially.
All of this begs the question: how does one empower their employees to the point that they are positioned to deliver excellent customer experience across the complete customer journey? It’s an imprecise science that varies depending on your company, product, industry and a host of other factors.
Employee empowerment is a win-win proposition. Your customers enjoy the benefit of great service hence staying and becoming loyal customers. Your employees get better job satisfaction, engagement and experience.
Companies designed in the 20th century have very little capacity to evolve and adapt. They are rarely adaptive organisms, at least on more than a superficial level.
Technological acceleration now means that capturing connected customers depends on the companies ability to take an agile approach. Businesses must adopt to market changes and shifts in buyer behavior, as well as organize themselves for autonomous and agile teams, scalable and fluid processes and systems that enable fast action when opportunities present themselves.
“The key to doing better,” argues Oxford economist Eric Beinhocker,“is to ‘bring evolution inside’ and get the wheels of differentiation, selection, and amplification spinning within a company’s four walls.”
An approach we use ourselves at Möbius is called ‘holacracy’. It offers the possibility of doing just that: embedding an enhanced capacity to dynamically and continually evolve, within an organisation’s core DNA. It helps create organizations that are fast, agile and succeed by pursuing their purpose, free from the tyranny of top-down planning or the time-consuming pursuit of consensus. It’s not a silver bullet – it takes hard work and practice to make the shift into such a dramatically different way of organising, but those who see and experience it in action are excited about its results.
In the words of David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” and a business leader with years of ‘holacracy’ experience in his own company, “Holacracy is not a panacea – it won’t resolve all of an organization’s tensions and dilemmas. But, in my experience, it does provide the most stable ground from which to recognize, frame, and address them.”
Still powerful customer experiences are not just about maintaining consistency, relevance, empowerment, convenience and agility at any cost.
It is about creating equally seamless customer dialogue across every stage of the customer journey, from pre-purchase research to post-sales touches.