October 20, 2018
When it comes to delivering an omnichannel customer experience, there are plenty of moving parts involved. Brands may be inclined to invest as much time and budget as possible on their strongest channels, rather than spreading their efforts more evenly across their multi-channel customer experience as a whole.
However, most customers these days operate on multiple channels, and their experiences will be compromised by this approach. Finding the balance can be a challenge, but the first step is to make sure that you are able to recognize and track your visitors across all channels so that you can analyze customer journeys and come to a fuller understanding of how your customers interact with your brand.
Once that infrastructure is in place, the next priority should be ensuring that your customers receive a smooth and consistent experience as they traverse channels. This doesn’t mean neglecting your strongest channels—but it does mean repositioning those touchpoints as part of an ecosystem, rather than isolated experiences.
Keep reading to learn more about what makes an omnichannel customer experience worth investing in.
Before we delve into the essential components of an effective omnichannel customer experience, let’s first look at how we define it.
An omnichannel customer experience extends across a variety of channels that are linked together by many different touchpoints in real time. Omnichannel customer experiences give the customer the ability to move from one channel to another as part of a seamless customer experience.
From a brand’s standpoint, this means supporting multiple channels within a single customer interaction. This creates the opportunity for customers to interact across multiple channels for a strong and consistent connection.
It’s important to note that omnichannel customer experiences are not simply one experience spread across multiple channels, they are personalized channels powered by real-time data. Personalization plays a crucial role in this, as it ensures that the interaction you’re creating at these touchpoints is a) utilizing known information about the customer and b) providing the customer with an engagement tailored to them.
So, why omnichannel? It works. According to our EQ4 2017, The Cross-Device Imperative, users who are tracked across multiple devices in an ecommerce journey experience smoother and more compelling customer experiences, and subsequently outperform those who are not tracked as they move from device to device. To put that in numbers, multiple-device users have a product view rate of 88 percent, while single-device users are at 58 percent. The purchase rate is a staggering 55 percent (for multiple-device users) over 6 percent of those using a single device.
The ability to identify a single user across multiple touchpoints allows you to personalize their journey with more consistency, helping them pick up where they left off and experience a more cohesive relationship with the brand, a change that can lead to higher conversion rates and better customer retention over time.
Learning how to find the balance between your channels and how they can be used cohesively to deliver a true omnichannel customer experience is a challenge facing many brands. There are a variety of ways to implement an omnichannel customer experience, but there are three core tenets that define it. Those are:
Nailing the omnichannel customer experience means creating seamless transitions from one channel to another. Take a look at your current strategy and whether or not all of your channels are working together to build an integrated experience.
The key is to recognize an individual no matter how they choose to interact with your brand. To support this effort, businesses leverage real-time data, artificial intelligence, a personalization engine, and more. Collecting all of this data about a single user will help you predict their next move, what they’d like to see next, and where they’d like to see it. This is how you link an experience together.
A customer searches for flights on their computer, and the airline takes advantage by using this data to recommend a ticket promotion on that user’s newsfeed. Soon, an email is sent to alert them that the flight dates that they had searched for are nearly sold out. When the customer returns to the website on their mobile device, the site recognizes them and makes it easy for them to review their recently searched flights. After multiple, relevant touchpoints that build upon the customer experience, the customer decides to go ahead and purchase a ticket with that airline. Following the purchase, they receive an email and recommended content on social media about their travel destination to help them prepare for their trip.
This interaction is only possible if the brand can recognize the customer as the same user as they hop from one touchpoint to another. But there is no fragmentation from the customer’s perspective: the only things that matter to them are that the brand remains consistent, which is a key factor in completing a sale, and that it’s easy for them to visit in a new channel without starting from scratch every time. .
The main objective of an omnichannel customer experience is integration. The experience should extend beyond what customers are seeing on their computers, tablets, or phones: a true omnichannel customer experience should lay the groundwork needed to transcend digital platforms, so that their experiences with your call center and even in physical stores can be informed by their activities in other channels.
Digital and in-store have long been considered separate realms because brands had no way of connecting the interactions across channels. This was a lost opportunity, as most shoppers these days will interact with a brand through desktop, mobile, or app before setting foot in-store, and often follow up in-store purchases with more online engagement—yet store reps have treated the customer as anonymous when they walk in the door, and the information from the session has been lost when they leave.
Now, with the ability to inform store reps in real time and connect a full customer profile to the POS system, brands have the opportunity to use previous data to make the customer’s store experience better and more fully informed. They can also use the in-store interaction to improve the customer’s future digital engagements. By better connecting touchpoints, the interaction can be enriched no matter where it takes place—but in order to be used effectively, this information must be shared between channels in real time.
A customer has been interacting with a clothing retailer across a few different touch points all week, from their mobile device to their laptop. The retailer uses these touchpoints to deliver retargeted ads on the user’s Facebook newsfeed, and the sweater that the customer abandoned in their shopping cart has landed right in their email inbox with a 20% off in-store coupon. After an evenly connected and paced interaction, the customer decides to head to a brick-and-mortar store with their discount in hand. While talking to the customer, the sales rep reviews their profile and sees that they had also been browsing a hat in a complementary color that is currently in stock. The customer, delighted at the extra level of service, purchases both. After leaving the store with their items, the system stops delivering abandoned cart reminders that would now be irrelevant, and the customer can move on, enjoying their purchases.
The idea of an omnichannel customer experience is to truly immerse your users in your brand; a key part of that is creating a consistent voice regardless of how users are engaging. For example, your brand shouldn’t have one style of messaging on their mobile app and a completely different one on their website; this would create a disjointed experience as the user moves back and forth. It would be equally disruptive to treat every channel as exactly the same—mobile users have different needs, and often different goals, from their desktop-browsing counterparts, and the same extends to other touchpoints.
The challenge is to balance these channel-sensitive differences while remaining unified in voice overall, and to keep the customer centered in everything you do regardless of which channel they are using at the time.
Re-evaluate your current strategy and make sure all channels are aligned with your brand voice. Look at the data available for all your channels, and analyze typical customer journeys to identify the weak spots. Noticing where your voice is not being heard, or where the visitor’s journey is not being adequately facilitated through personalization, will drive you toward a much stronger overall connection with customers.
Your customers are now omnichannel, and you should be, too. As the typical path to purchase spans more devices and sessions, brands need to keep up with the change so that they can continue to deliver a seamless and customer-oriented journey. Start by analyzing the omnichannel experience that you currently offer: which channels are most important to your customers? Which channels perform best, and which might be underperforming? If you can identify points where you can improve the experience, make it more interconnected, and deepen your use of the data at your disposal, you can begin to build the kind of omnichannel experience that will win customers for the long term.
A true omnichannel customer experience means each interaction is contextually informed, whether on or off digital platforms. It also allows you to take a long view of the customer and your relationship with them: by assembling clipped sessions scattered over multiple channels into one cohesive view, you can better understand the customer’s needs in each moment and cultivate a stronger connection that will grow customer loyalty and lifetime value over time.
If you would like to learn more about Monetate and how to get started on building a stronger omnichannel customer experience, check out our Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine, or contact us today.