The advent of technology has created a crop of empowered and tech-savvy customers. More and more, shoppers are not only well connected but their lives are shaped by interaction with various devices and platforms.
You guessed right…It’s the era of multiple devices. Today, customers expect personalized and consistent communication with brands across the many channels and devices they use. Sadly, when it comes to providing omnichannel experiences, most brands are yet to scratch the surface.
Businesses that get it right reap massive benefits, while others face the risk of being left behind. According to Aberdeen Group, companies that provide omnichannel experiences enjoy an 89 percent customer retention rate than others.
As shoppers’ behavior changes, salespeople must adopt a holistic approach to customer communications. This involves creating multiple communication channels that customers can use whenever they want. It’s also about leveraging technology to improve the customer purchase experience.
But how do you create or improve omnichannel experiences for your customers? That’s what this article is about. Keep reading to discover six ways to improve omnichannel experiences.
Creating an Omnichannel Experience
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Omnichannel experiences involve marketing, selling, and providing customer support through different channels. The goal isn’t just to be on every available channel but also to create an integrated, quality customer experience no matter how they choose to reach out.
Nowadays, there are tons of channels for customers to interact with brands, including
- Company’s website or mobile app
- Social media
- WhatsApp etc.
Even in today’s digital world, most customers prefer physical contact with brands by walking into the company’s retail stores.
Omnichannel experience at its very best means customers should be able to reach your company on one channel, continue the conversation on another channel, and still enjoy an incredible service experience.
Although many brands recognize the need for an omnichannel business strategy, only a few of them walk the talk. Brands like Starbucks and Disney have perfected this multichannel approach to business. Not only that, they go far above and beyond to give customers the engaging experience they crave. In return, they enjoy incredible customer loyalty, improved business performance, competitive advantage, etc.
If you’re going to enjoy a jump in sales and stay ahead of the competition, start by providing interconnected channels. On top of that, your customers’ touchpoints should be set up to deliver a personalized, integrated, and consistent experience.
1. Map Out Your Customer Journey
Understanding your customer journey is like having superpowers that let you get into the minds of your customers. Like any great ability, it makes you invincible and places your brand many steps ahead of the competition.
Your customer journey is the process your buyers go through before they achieve your desired goal. The goal may be to buy a product, download an ebook, fill a form or click an ad.
Whatever the goal may be, don’t make sweeping assumptions.
Many factors come into play during this journey. And mapping out this path helps you optimize their experience with your brand.
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One way to achieve this is by profiling your potential customers and visualizing the path you’d like them to take while interacting with your brand. Once you’ve done this, your next big move should be to list all the channels your customers use to get in touch with your brand. Next, you want to outline events that happen during customer interactions on these channels and bottlenecks that can cause negative emotions about your brand.
Collect as much data as you can during this process and analyze them with experts. This analysis will help you gather insights, strategies, and resources needed to improve the customer experience.
For example, if you’re looking to sell digital products, your customer journey may begin with ads or recommendations from other users. Then they’ll sign up for a demo or trial version of your product and make the actual purchase after the demo. Whether the process is as simple as we’ve mentioned or it’s more complex than that, making vital changes can change customer perception about your brand.
Here’s what you need to know. Mapping your customer journey isn’t a one-time process. As your business evolves, your customer journey and how they interact with your brand will most likely change over time. Hence the need to review, iterate and make the process as seamless as possible.
2. Offer Consistent and Share-Worthy Experiences Across All Channels
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More than ever before, the stakes are higher for business because customers know what they want and how they want it. Not only are they comparing your brand to competitors, but they’re also pitching your brand against the most incredible services they’ve enjoyed. Therefore it’s important to offer services that match their needs, beliefs, and expectations.
Research has shown that brands that offer consistent service experience across multiple platforms enjoy a 287% purchase rate higher than those using single channels. This shows that driving customers into your sales funnel isn’t enough.
Winning the battle for customers’ hearts and minds begins with providing a unified service experience across different touchpoints.
When it comes to shopping, convenience is a top priority for customers. They expect web and mobile-friendly services across all platforms. Websites or apps that are slow, difficult to navigate, or misinformative can be a turnoff for users.
Studies have shown that shoppers are five times more likely to leave your website if it’s not mobile-friendly. So, it’s best to optimize your website for a smooth web and mobile experience.
Most businesses use responsive designs, which involve creating a website layout that flexibly adapts to different devices, screen sizes, and resolutions. Other brands prefer to develop different versions of their website for web and mobile. The general rule of thumb is to work with your developer to determine which approach will enable you to achieve an excellent omnichannel service strategy.
All in all, your service channels (website or app) should not only load quickly, but customers should be able to find what they’re looking for within the snap of a finger. Ensure you minimize the number of steps it takes for your customer to complete their journey, such as
- Filling a form
- Searching for a product or service,
- Getting product information
- Making a purchase and contacting support
Consistent messaging is another crucial component of omnichannel experiences. Research has shown that this omnichannel communication approach has yielded massive returns on marketing investment for businesses. According to an IAB study, consistent messaging across multiple channels increases customers’ purchase intent by 90% and improves their brand perception by 68%.
As customers engage with your brand, the information they get across multiple channels should be accurate and unified.
Whether they’re interacting with your brand during sales or support, avoid conflicting messages. Instead, make sure you pass the message the same way everywhere.
When your message is consistent and aligned, it’s only logical that customers will feel confident about your brand and trust you to deliver incredible service quality.
On the flip side, inconsistent messaging can raise red flags and portray your brand as deceitful or lacking attention to detail.
3. Focus on Your Customers
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It’s no longer news that customers are valuable assets to your organization, and their satisfaction is imperative. Therefore, your omnichannel strategy should revolve around creating value and memorable experiences.
However, you can’t provide customer experiences without knowing who your customers are, what they want, and how they want it. Hence, the need to gather intelligence about their needs and expectations as they engage your brand. You can start by collecting data through:
- Surveys (Questionnaires and Interviews)
- Subscription and user registration data.
- Social media and online marketing analytics
- Customer service analytics
- Website tracking
With tools like Typeform, Google forms, Survey Monkey, etc., you can
- Design surveys and questionnaire
- Collect data and
- Gain insights into what customers think about your services.
If you’re looking to know how users are navigating your website, tools like Google Analytics, Hotjar, Crazy Egg, Mouseflow can help you
- Analyze website visits
- Identify where your traffic is coming from, and
- Understand how customers interact with your site.
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When users subscribe to your service, you can collect data about them and use it to tailor your offerings to their preferences. Transaction data can offer profound insights into your customers’ interests and buying patterns whether you sell goods in-store, online, or both.
While you’re providing customer support via phone, emails, or live chat, you can collect data about
- Customer complaints
- Average response time, and
- Support preferences.
Customer support teams can analyze this data and improve the customer service experience by
- Providing faster response
- Improving engagement with customers
- Offering smarter and better self-service options such as FAQs, chatbots, etc.
Once you’ve gathered data from multiple sources(sales, customer service, website, social media, etc.), you can
- Observe trends over time and
- Gain a deeper understanding of how customers are interacting with your brand.
- Provide personalized experiences that customers want to rave about.
Creating personalized experiences can take different forms. It could be as simple as sending personalized email messages or calling customers by name. You can take it a step further by using customer purchase data or AI to recommend other products they’d love to buy. The end goal is to use what you know about your customers to provide exceptional service.
For example, you can give special offers or product recommendations based on their purchase habits. Undoubtedly, this is a great way to pique interest in your product, market your company’s offerings and generate positive word of mouth for your brand.
4. Create Incredible Content That Resonates With Your Customers
You’ve probably heard the popular maxim-content is the lifeblood of marketing. If you’re going to deliver better omnichannel experiences, you need an excellent content strategy that creates a strong emotional connection between customers and your brand.
Content plays an active role at every stage of your customer journey. As you already know, informative and helpful content nudges shoppers towards the next step of their purchase journey and increases the likelihood that they’ll buy your product. As such, your content shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, it should align with customers’ needs, goals, purchase behavior, and other critical factors. More importantly, your content should attract, inform and engage your audience while promoting your brand.
But how do you create content that delivers on your omnichannel strategy?
Start by gathering critical data about your customer, including their interest and purchase behavior. Next, you want to identify the different channels through which they interact with your brands, the challenges they face while using these channels, and their overall product or service experience.
Once you’ve gathered valuable insights, you can harness them to create content that’s informative, helpful, and easy to understand. Even more, your content should make customer journeys enjoyable, seamless, and share-worthy. When you do this, customers will not only stay loyal to your brand, but you’ll drive sales, repeat purchases and grow your brand.
As you interact with your customers daily, it’s essential to evaluate your existing content strategy and update them to meet the ever-changing customer needs. For example, while providing customer support, you’ll most likely find common questions, issues, or bottlenecks that may cause customer churn or negative word of mouth. The next step should be to create tutorials, FAQs, product guides to answer these questions or address these issues.
While creating content for multiple platforms, make sure to optimize your content format for every single channel. Besides, the content should be appropriate for that channel, consistent, and easily accessible to users. Not only does this make the experience an exciting one for customers, but they also won’t miss out on any vital information that may lead to purchase.
Creating separate content from scratch for individual channels can be daunting. Imagine creating separate content for e-books, infographics, social media, email, SMS, blog and updating them manually every time. You will end up wasting productive time or delivering conflicting content.
The good thing is that there’s no limit to what you can achieve when creating content for different platforms. You can easily transform content from one format to another format to make it suitable for multiple channels. A good case in point is converting a blog post into an infographic or turning a webinar or podcast into a blog post. Repurposing your content also helps you reach a wider audience and increases your chances of driving conversions…. It’s a win-win for your business.
Let’s take the example of setting up a new account in a real estate SaaS product. Instead of writing separate instructions or answers for FAQs, tutorials, chatbots, or guides and then updating them individually, you can create a single piece of content and repurpose it into different formats for each channel.
5. Optimize Your Customer Support Channels
Whether you’re a new or existing business, customer support isn’t something you should take for granted. How you serve your customers can be a make-or-break factor for your business.
A few decades ago, prices and quality were all customers cared about. Well, not anymore. Today, customers are not only interested in excellent prices and quality products, but they are increasingly savvy about customer service and support. In fact, they prefer to patronize brands that offer incredible customer service and support across multiple channels.
A study by Microsoft reveals 90% of customers use customer service as a factor to decide their choice of a brand. What’s more? About 58% of customers will stop doing business with a brand due to poor customer service.
What does this mean for your business?
Providing excellent customer service quality never goes out of style. And once you’ve mastered the art of offering these services across different customer touchpoints, your business is destined for success.
We get it. Providing services across a few channels (email or phone) can be very pretty straightforward and easy to manage. But as your business expands, customers expect more, and before you know it, you quickly outgrow single channel support.
There are several benefits of investing in omnichannel customer support. Because you’re now interacting with customers in more places, you’ll have more opportunities to
- Help your customers and create a good impression about your brand
- Respond quickly to customer concerns and save them a large chunk of their time.
That’s not all. Brands that execute omnichannel customer support enjoy
- Increased customer retention rate
- Repeat purchases
- Positive word of mouth and referrals
- Business growth and competitive advantage.
We’ve highlighted some of the benefits of providing multi-channel support. However, there are also several drawbacks.
Providing customer support across different platforms requires a vast amount of time and resources. It also involves multitasking as well as maintaining consistent communication across your support channels.
Take a few minutes to think about this customer service scenario. Imagine a customer engages your support team via direct message on Twitter and switches to Instagram, email, phone call, or website chat. While interacting with your customer support team on the new channel, they are confronted with repeating their complaints, different answers from different agents, or inconsistent responses on their support ticket.
Customers may become confused, frustrated and lose confidence in your brand if there’s a lack of integration across your service channels or your support teams are not in sync. At worst, they’ll take their business elsewhere. Therefore you need to optimize your customer support channels and develop a coordinated customer service and support strategy.
Here’s how to go about it.
Setup Multiple Support Channels
The main idea behind omnichannel support is to provide different ways for customers to engage your brand. Nowadays, there are different touchpoints that customers expect to get support including:
- Social media channels ( Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Live chat (via website or app) etc.
- FAQs and Knowledge base
Although there are other support channels, these are the basic ones that matter most to customers, and they expect to meet your brand there.
Provide 24/7 Customer Support
Offering 24/7 customer support means customers are able to get help or have their issues resolved anytime. It allows your brand to effectively serve customers at different time zones, reduce wait times and retain more customers. If you’re looking to provide support round the clock, you may need to
- Strengthen your self-service channels
- Expand your customer support teams to meet the growing service demands
- Outsource customer service to reliable organizations
Unify Support Channels and Maintain Consistent Messaging
Your customer support channels should be set up in a way that allows for consistency in communication. Ensure agents or automated service channels are aligned both in terms of response strategy and messaging for every customer-related or support issue.
To achieve consistency, design customer support processes and continuously improve them to deliver the best support experience to your customers.
Next, be sure to maintain a unified database and knowledge base that’s accessible to your customer support teams at all times.
The next critical activity should be to invest in omnichannel help desks tools.
Tools like Freshdesk, Zendesk, etc., provide a comprehensive view of customer support activities in various channels. With a comprehensive view of all the support requests from various channels, you can assign agents and ensure that all customer issues are attended to and resolved on time.
Customers should be able to view responses, update their support tickets, and track status no matter the channels they’re using.
6. Provide Self-Service Channels
Providing robust self-service options is another great way to ensure that customers get exceptional customer service experiences that keep them coming back for more.
Let’s face it. Scaling your customer support team to resolve tons of issues or respond to customers’ queries can be a tough task for businesses. Not only is it expensive, but there’s also the risk of missing out on customer complaints or losing customer chat history.
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Although self-service can’t replace humans, customers love it. A recent study by Microsoft reveals that 86% of customers expect brands to provide self-service options while 66% try out self-service channels before contacting live support agents. By offering self-service channels, you can free up agents to handle more complex issues. Plus, customers can quickly find solutions to their issues even outside business hours.
Here are three self-service channels that can help you optimize your customer service experience
Knowledge base: This includes FAQs, articles, guides, tutorials, instructional materials that show customers how to troubleshoot less complicated issues.
Communities and Forums: Communities are platforms you can set up to allow users to exchange information or share knowledge with each other. Often, customers get to ask questions, respond to questions from other users, and help each other out. Because these responses are saved on the discussion board or visible to everyone, other users who have similar issues can take a cue to resolve their issues.
It’s important to note that online forums are not for customer interactions only. Customer service agents can step in to respond to questions or clarify complex issues.
Chatbots: Chatbots use the power of artificial intelligence and natural language processing to simulate human interaction. Unlike knowledgebase and online communities, chatbots mimic live chats with human agents, thus providing a more personalized support experience.
Basically, chatbots scan your knowledge base and serve relevant and helpful content to customers based on their requests. Where chatbots are unable to provide answers, they can transfer customers to live support agents.
Disney Creates an Omnichannel Experience That’s Second to None
Disney has mastered the art of delivering omnichannel experiences that are worth raving about. From your visit to their mobile responsive website and booking to the actual experience at the parks and everything in between, Disney makes it worthwhile. What makes their omnichannel strategy outstanding is their attention to the tiniest details.
The incredible experience begins from your visit to their color-rich website that’s also optimized for mobile. Once you booked your trip, the website takes you on a visual journey and builds excitement about what you’re about to experience in real life. On the website, you can explore the parks, entertainment, events, and tours, view restaurants, and hotels, plan your itinerary, make reservations, and more. The website also has a section where you can shop for Disney-themed merchandise, tickets, and more.
When you arrive at the park, the mobile app becomes your tour guide. It provides all the information you need to move around, locate different parks, attractions, characters, and the wait times for each of them.
Here’s where it gets even more exciting. Disney has taken customer experience to a whole new level with the introduction of the Magic Band. The MagicBands and cards are secure all-in-one devices that allow customers to seamlessly access the vacation choices they’ve made while planning their Disney Experience. Customers can use their MagicBand to
- Unlock their hotel room doors
- Visit themes and water parks
- Order food and other merchandise
- Capture and store pictures they’ve taken during your visit
That’s not all. The magic band serves as a check-in tool for Fast Pass entrances. Plus, customers can use it to unlock special and personalized surprises throughout the Disney World Resort.
Amazing job by Walt Disney. Isn’t it? Here’s a key takeaway from their omnichannel strategy. Understanding your customer journey and creating exciting omnichannel experiences across different customer touchpoints is a winning formula.
Get to Work: Develop Your Omnichannel Strategy
Creating omnichannel experiences is a proven business strategy that works. When you’re able to maintain consistency across multiple channels, the results are magical. Your business will enjoy
- Significant increase in revenue
- Improved customer retention and loyalty
- Increased operational efficiency and cost reduction
Brands like Disney, Amazon, Starbucks, Chipotle, etc., have taken omnichannel experiences to a whole new level. You may not have the resources to create experiences at that level. However, you can start on a small scale and expand as your business grows. Work closely with different departments in your company to develop a unique omnichannel strategy that wows customers every step of their journey. While you’re at it, focus on building relationships that increase customer lifetime value.