Omnichannel customer experiences: What’s the big deal?
Many marketers are great at reaching their target market on key channels and persuading their customers to make a purchase. But if your touchpoints aren’t completely in sync, you’re falling short of a true omnichannel experience.
When executed to perfection, your customer interactions across channels are as smooth as silk. Your customers never notice a gap in their interaction with your brand.
Think of it this way. A multichannel experience is like dealing with a team of people. Even though they sit in the same office and go out for happy hour every Thursday, each member of the team has a unique personality and a different method for getting things done. They also probably don’t know every single detail of each other’s tasks.
On the flip side, an omnichannel experience is like dealing with an expert concierge who never sleeps. There’s no risk of miscommunication—every channel is aligned so you never miss a beat. To reach omnichannel status, all departments need to be on the same page 24/7. This includes product, marketing, IT, sales, customer support and customer success.
What does an omnichannel strategy look like in practice?
Today’s brands are reaching customers at more touchpoints than ever before—mobile apps, websites, blogs, social media, Internet of Things (IoT), interactive voice response (IVR), chatbots, brick and mortar stores and so on. An omnichannel strategy takes stock of each platform and device your customers use to interact with your company and applies this knowledge to reach your customers where they’re at.
On average, customer transactions involve 5-6 touchpoints, but this number can easily stretch to 20 or more as the customer conducts research, compares items and reads reviews. Everyone makes decisions differently. With customers cruising from touchpoint to touchpoint, an overlooked gap in your experience can quickly snowball into a string of lost sales.
Let’s say you’re walking through the mall and you spot a pair of fire truck red Air Jordan sneakers on sale for 20% off. Alas, the store only has size 15s left in stock. But if it’s using an omnichannel strategy, you can open their app or website on your phone to quickly check to see if the shoes are available in your size on their website. If so, you’ll be able to take advantage of the sale and make your purchase on the spot.
But without an omnichannel strategy, you’ll have to drive to the store’s other locations and cross your fingers they’ll have the sneakers in their inventory. And even if they’re in stock in your size, there’s no guarantee the other location will be running the same promotion. More than likely, you’ll just give up and walk away.
What kind of experience are today’s customers looking for?
At the end of the day, customers don’t care about terminology. All they care about is choice and convenience. They want to be able to start the sale anywhere and finish it anywhere, regardless of channel or device. If they’re in the market for a new car, they want to research it online, get feedback on social media, check out their local dealership’s website and pick it up in-store—all without any lapses in the customer experience.
But all too often, there’s a cavernous ravine between customer expectations and the experience companies are providing. While most shoppers expect the ability to shop seamlessly across touchpoints, just 7% of retailers currently provide a cross-channel commerce experience. 73% of customers want to be able to track orders across all points of interaction, but only 42% of retailers offer this feature.
In addition, 71% of customers expect real-time communication from brands. Since 80% of customers use their cell phones while shopping in brick and mortar stores, real-time communication could be the tipping point between a sale and a missed opportunity. You don’t want customers to look for an item your website says is in stock, just to find out it’s actually sold out.
How are marketers performing when it comes to omnichannel?
Not great. According to Salesforce research, only 29% of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time. When it comes to creating personalized omnichannel customer experiences and engaging customers across channels at scale, just 28% of marketers are confident in their ability.
“Only 29% of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time.”
- ”State of the Connected Customer”, Salesforce Research, June 2018
Which companies are doing omnichannel right?
Let’s look at a few examples of companies that have risen to the challenge and are doing omnichannel right.
Disney World’s all-in-one MagicBands let you travel lighter throughout your vacation. These waterproof wristbands contain a microchip you can use for just about everything. You can unlock your hotel room, go through the turnstiles, check in at FastPass entrances, charge food and merchandise purchases to your hotel room and more—all with a simple tap of your MagicBand.
When it comes to loyalty programs, the Starbucks rewards card is the gold standard. This app is a treasure trove of discounts and lets you pay for your order with a tap of your phone. You can check and reload your rewards card via phone, website, app and at any Starbucks location. Any changes to the card or your profile get pushed across every channel in real-time.
No one enjoys waiting at the pharmacy to check their prescription or get a refill. The Walgreens app solves this pain point by delivering your prescription right to your door. On the app, you can order refills automatically, set up reminders and take advantage of free shipping from Walgreens.
Every single one of these experiences are driven by a well thought out technology stack that stitches together data across channels to deliver a 360-degree view of their customers’ interests, preferences, behaviors and actions.
At Horizontal Digital, we create higher caliber digital experiences for our clients by immersing ourselves in their customers’ data to uncover motivations and aspirations. Our end goal is to deliver seamless, personalized moments across touchpoints that fuel possibilities between your customers and your brand.
Sitecore & Salesforce
Creating experiences that evolve at the speed of customers
United Health Group
Helping a company find its future through smarter hiring