Amid the increasing complexity of the customer journey, the soaring number of cross-channel touch points and dwindling customer attention spans, it’s vital for organizations to master customer engagement within this ecosystem. Despite its enduring importance, few brands can claim to have truly mastered omnichannel (omni).
While related marketing strategies like channel-less approaches offer a new spin, the true power of an omnichannel strategy becomes evident when it harmonizes the customer experience across touchpoints. By pinpointing the exact locations of customer interactions, this strategic approach enables brands to closely match customer expectations, elevating their overall experience. When meticulously integrated, omnichannel delivers clear advantages for users and businesses alike.
Digizuite cites recent research that found that two-third of customers are unlikely to buy from a brand that fails to offer an integrated omnichannel experience.
Likewise, based on the findings of the 2023 Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, 70% of consumers say a seamless experience significantly increases their likelihood of making additional purchases from a company and 64% will spend more money if businesses address their concerns through the same communication channel they’re currently using.
The stakes are high.
Omnichannel pledged to create a highly personalized customer experience across all brand touch points and interactions. Omni was supposed to advance the holy grail of metrics—customer lifetime value. But for most retailers omni has fallen short of that promise, held back by organizational silos, fragmented customer data and the lack of a shared vision for what a great customer experience looks like and how it shows up across channels. Instead, customers continue to endure disjointed, frustrating online shopping experiences.
It’s time to have a real talk. Organizations must stop pointing fingers at internal barriers and start aligning on an integrated experience vision centered around the customer. It’s not the channels, and not the technologies, but the future customer journey that should dictate investments. Getting this right will ultimately enhance the customer experience.
Zendesk found that 60% of consumers report interacting with agents who have little or no context, which leads to customers having to repeat themselves. This should not be happening in the age of GenAI. Don’t let this happen to your customers.
Getting the foundations right sets you up for long-term success. Getting it right is a two-part exercise—first, creating shared understanding of who your customers are and second, oftentimes parallel, aligning the organization and its incentives around serving that customer.
Start with developing a thorough and nuanced understanding of your customers alongside a clear vision of how you want your own brand to show up in that relationship. This is most often summarized in an experience strategy, which includes a set of customer archetypes, customer journeys and experience principles to help drive alignment.
Once you have an experience strategy in place, the organizational structure plays a pivotal role in enabling the execution of successful strategy. To succeed in omnichannel strategies, organizations should adopt cross-functional product teams, centralized omni-metrics/KPIs and clear top-level ownership of seamless customer experiences across all touch points.
Forrester research has shown that only 33% of US online adults believe “Companies do a good job creating relevant experiences for me.” Companies can do better than this. The time is now for organizations to step up their game and develop approaches to improve the customer online shopping experience.
As for the tactical elements, we’ve identified five design principles to help you get started on crafting an omni strategy that finally delivers on the omni promise.
The inclination is to retrofit existing single channel journeys and combining them. Instead, the starting point for the omnichannel journey(s) needs to be something entirely new, designed specifically for omni.
Single channel journeys are more linear. Omnichannel journeys are dynamic and evolve—sometimes in surprising ways—based on the channels at a customer’s disposal. Unless we design with an omni-first approach that builds from the ground up, we’re likely to bias one channel over another and design for a static, linear experience.
Avoid the “everything, everywhere” approach, as customers engage across numerous touch points. Instead, focus on delivering remarkable experiences at key moments. Identify these pivotal instances where brief, high-value emotional connections can occur. Strive to create standout interactions that leave an impression.
Discovering these signature moments enables us to meet, inspire and delight customers where they are. Keep in mind, however, not every moment needs to be a signature moment. Having too many dilutes their impact and potentially overwhelms the customer, distracting from the core message. The challenge for businesses is to strike a balance between creating meaningful signature moments and ensuring they align with the brand’s overall strategy and message.
A channel strategy enables us to think holistically cross-channel, pushing us to identify the unique role that each channel plays in the blended customer journey. With the ever-increasing number of channels that exist, each can play a unique role in the path to purchase—all while being closely stitched together. Few things disrupt the customer journey like a disconnect between channels, where the lack of a seamless handoff may mean a customer drops off entirely because they got lost in the fold.
While the customer may not see it, we can be deliberate about advancing the customer journey, at every touch point. Unless we focus on providing a seamless, omnichannel experience that integrates various channels harmoniously, confusion, decision paralysis, loss of personalization, increased abandonment, customer fatigue, and brand dissonance will persist as part of the customer experience.
Implementing omni successfully is complex due to its technical nature. Successful omni revolves around using centralized customer data—both longitudinal and in-session. Collecting data at every touch point and integrating it into a single customer 360 view creates a valuable proprietary dataset, enhancing the customer journey.
Unless organizations invest in improving their data integration capabilities and prioritizing customer data centralization, they can expect fragmented customer profiles, inconsistent messaging and missed upselling and cross-selling opportunities.
Today, numerous technology solutions are available to support omnichannel implementation. Instead of focusing solely on individual platforms, it’s necessary to evaluate the entire ecosystem and align technology choices with your specific requirements. Given the central role of technology and data in the omnichannel landscape, data strategies and the right technologies to deliver your required experience should be discussed from the outset.
You have options like an all-in-one solution from a single vendor or a best-of-breed approach. These include tools like customer data platforms, inventory management and cloud solutions with communication platform-as-a-service (CPaaS), all demanding consideration of integration, scalability, automation and analytics. Unless companies align tech capabilities with omnichannel requirements and establish a clear strategy for omnichannel customer engagement, they’ll miss the mark on omni-channel experience. Business and IT need to work hand in hand to bring the omni dream to life.
frog has helped dozens of organizations redefine their omni strategy and deliver value to their customers. We believe that omnichannel is first and foremost about humans, not just work streams and capabilities. We’ll start with helping you get the foundations right and staying laser focused on always keeping the end customer in mind. It’s what we do best. Get in touch with us.