What is an omnichannel customer experience?
In today’s always-on world, customers can interact with your business in many ways, across various channels, and at any time. From Google searches and social media to videos, mobile apps and in-person interactions, the opportunities for communication are endless.
That’s why providing an omnichannel customer experience needs to be an essential part of any business's strategy.
An omnichannel customer experience is when a business interacts with customers across multiple channels, as if each touchpoint was part of a single, frictionless interaction. When carried out correctly, this customer-centric approach provides a seamless and integrated experience for the consumer.
The key is consistency and personalisation, no matter how they choose to interact with your company. For example, a customer might start their journey with you via social media before continuing the conversation via email or telephone. Your job is to ensure this transition to another channel is seamless.
This blog will explore omnichannel customer experience in more depth and discover how you can provide this service in your business.
Why is omnichannel customer experience important?
Fundamentally, an omnichannel customer experience can support your business to improve customer satisfaction, increase loyalty, and drive revenue growth.
We know that customer satisfaction is key for customer retention, lifetime value and brand reputation. With 88% of consumers trusting recommendations over other marketing efforts, it would be foolish to ignore the significance of improving customer satisfaction.
A HubSpot study found that companies with a strong omnichannel customer engagement strategy see a 91% year-on-year increase in customer retention rates compared to those without. This clearly shows the importance of prioritising omnichannel in your customer service strategy.
Customers expect to interact with brands across multiple channels, and businesses that fail to provide a seamless and integrated experience risk losing customers to competitors.
Multichannel vs omnichannel: What’s the difference?
Although the terms multichannel and omnichannel are used interchangeably, there are key differences between them.
Multichannel is a strategy where a business offers multiple channels for customers to interact with their brand, but those channels may not be integrated. Omnichannel, on the other hand, refers to a strategy where a business offers a seamless and integrated experience across all channels of interaction. There is never a ‘gap’ in communication or experience from the customer’s perspective.
With omnichannel, customers can move between channels and experience the same consistency and personalisation. They might start by browsing online and then make a purchase in-store, but their overall brand experience will be the same.
There might even be technology in place to further improve the experience and make shopping more convenient. For example, the brand might have an app the customer can use in store to obtain points, check stock, or redeem vouchers.
A key component of an omnichannel customer experience is personalisation. With omnichannel personalisation, businesses tailor the customer experience to an individual’s needs and preferences across all interactions with the brand.
By using personalisation as part of an omnichannel strategy, businesses can obtain a complete view of their customers and their brand interactions. This allows them to create targeted experiences for each customer, with the goal of converting them into loyal customers with a higher average lifetime value.
Although personalisation might be a business strategy, it’s equally beneficial for consumers. Customers expect businesses to know their preferences and purchase history across all channels. They don’t want to have to input their information multiple times or repeat themselves when dealing with customer service.
One of the ways businesses can achieve personalisation is through customer data analysis. This includes purchase history, browsing behaviour, or social media activity. This data can be used to create personalised product recommendations, targeted marketing campaigns, and customised promotions that resonate with the consumer.
5 ways to improve the omnichannel customer experience
If you’re already using multiple channels for customer interaction, it’s time to integrate them. Here are our top five tips for improving the omnichannel customer experience:
1. Map the customer journey
Before you can improve the customer experience, you need to understand it. It’s important to analyse customer behaviour to establish where buyers begin their journey and how they interact with the business when leading to a purchase, and beyond.
By mapping the customer journey using big data and analysis, you can also see where gaps appear, enabling you to optimise and create a seamless experience in these areas.
2. Ask for feedback
To improve the customer experience, ask your customers what they want to see from you as a brand. Is it more communication channels? Easier ways to interact? Or more options for communication during the purchasing process? Uncovering ways your customers want to interact with you will help you optimise your strategy to focus on the areas they most care about.
Additionally, you might discover areas of little importance or rarely used channels that could potentially be removed in favour of something else.
3. Leverage technology
An omnichannel customer experience doesn’t happen without the right technology. Your business should integrate the technology it needs to enhance the customer experience and deliver the options your customers want to see.
If your customers have asked for more support in real time, you should be looking at implementing chat-bots and integrating them with social media for out-of-hours support.
The whole basis of an omnichannel customer experience is the ability to seamlessly switch between channels without negatively impacting the experience. Your customer service agents should be able to access customer information quickly to provide the best experience. But to do this, they need the right technology.
Your tech stack should include tools for customer data collection to enable personalisation, as well as AI integrations that can quickly retrieve customer information and history for agents to use in their interactions. Moving your customer service function to a cloud contact centre is another option you could consider.
Omnichannel customer experience isn't a new concept. Many brands have been doing this successfully for years, so why not learn from the experts? Seeing where successful businesses focus their resources can help you improve your strategy and hopefully replicate the same level of success.
It’s also important to look at response times as part of your benchmarking analysis, considering your website, emails, social media, and any other channels that require a response. Compare your current response times with what customers expect. To give you a hint, 39% of consumers expect a social media response within 60 minutes and 79% expect a response within 24 hours.
5. Combine in-store and online experiences
While most customer interactions are digital these days, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include offline channels in your omnichannel strategy. Whether that’s in the form of consistency across advertising or improving the in-store customer experience.
Look for opportunities where online and offline can work together, such as the ability for consumers to see what stock is available in store when they’re browsing online.
Examples of omnichannel customer experience
There are plenty of examples of businesses succeeding with their omnichannel strategies. Here are a couple for inspiration:
Retail: John Lewis omnichannel in-store and online interactions
John Lewis offers a seamless omnichannel experience through its website, mobile app, and in-store interactions. Customers can use the John Lewis app to scan products in-store and view product information, reviews, and ratings.
The company also offers a "click and collect" service, enabling customers to order online and pick up their orders at their nearest John Lewis store or Waitrose supermarket.
Insurance: Animal Friends omnichannel contact centre capabilities
Nasstar supported Animal Friends with the deployment of a new omnichannel cloud-based contact centre for its 400 users. The solution has delivered a vastly improved interactive customer experience and has made work more productive for contact centre agents. Furthermore, the company is exploring more omnichannel options in relation to chatbots and social media integration.
Omnichannel customer service solutions
Here are a few solutions that businesses can implement to improve their omnichannel customer service efforts:
Implement a centralised communication system
A centralised communication system enables businesses to manage all customer interactions from a single platform, making it easier to monitor customer conversations and respond to them in real time.
Use chatbots and AI-powered assistants
Chatbots and AI-powered assistants can help businesses automate customer service, reduce response times, and improve customer satisfaction. These tools can be integrated into different channels to provide a consistent experience across all channels.
Provide self-service options
Self-service options such as knowledge bases, FAQs, and online forums can empower customers to find answers to their questions on their own. This can reduce the number of support tickets and calls, leading to faster response times and increased customer satisfaction.
Offer proactive support
Proactive support involves identifying potential issues before they become problems and reaching out to customers to resolve them. This can be done through monitoring social media channels, analysing customer feedback, and tracking customer behaviour.
Provide personalised experiences
Personalisation is key to delivering a great omnichannel customer experience. By leveraging customer data and preferences, businesses can tailor communications and offerings to each customer's needs and preferences.
Nasstar solutions for omnichannel customer experience
Speak to a specialist today and kick-start your omnichannel customer experience journey.