The idea of gratifying customers in creative ways is not new. Brands have been doing it for ages, but what customers now expect is much more: an overall better experience. Customer experience generally involves delivering value at their touch points when, where and how they need it.
These days, a unified and consistent experience about the brand is utterly desired on both fronts: online and in-store. It applies not just at one level, but at all stages of a buying cycle from becoming aware, making a decision to actual buying and receiving the support.
For example, a potential buyer may start searching for a product on a desktop during leisure hours, read reviews about the same product on a mobile phone while traveling and may end up buying it on a tablet while watching TV. Alternatively, he/she may reserve the product on an online store, then pick it up from a physical store.
This is why retailers are betting big-time on an omnichannel or unified strategy. Omnichannel experience is about providing seamless and consistent experience across all customer touch points, whether it is a desktop, mobile app or tablet, or brick and mortar shop.
Aberdeen Group Inc. claims that companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
Here is why omnichannel experience means a lot to customers :
Speed is the key. Customers have no patience for waiting, they expect instant availability — instant information, instant product buyout and delivery, and instant response. Which means brands must be able to reach buyers immediately across all channels, in a way that’s engaging and gratifying.
If you will not engage them the way they like, they might start looking for their options somewhere else.
An omnichannel approach enables customers to get the same experience everywhere and make their purchase via their choice of channel without any delay.
Convenience in accessibility
Customers deal with multiple options nowadays, but more options bring more complexity for them. However, if they find it effortless to reach you when it matters the most and where it the matters most, their chances of buying from you go up.
Clearly, the more convenience you provide around your product and pricing information, customer reviews, comparison shopping, payment methods, seamless channel transition, personalized recommendations and support, the less complex it will be to influence potential buyers. For e.g., if your in-store sales reps could not provide every information about available products, your website or mobile app should be able to do so. If your online store does not take orders, you should provide a clear location and direction to the nearest in-store.
The omnipresence of your product information can help customers make more informed decisions and give them many more options for shopping.
Personalized omnichannel response
Every customer is different and so is their awareness about your products and services. You need to treat each one differently. When your brand provides customers a seamless, relevant and personalized experience across all channels of communication, it adds consistent value and certainly attracts them.
For example, if you send exciting offers, product barcodes, and in-store mobile promotions to relevant customers across multiple channels, your customers can start a conversation or purchase without losing the context. Or, if they buy from your web store or a mobile app, they expect that they can return products at nearby physical store without any hassle. Such type of experience always contributes to more frequent purchases.
From the customer’s point of view, omnichannel equals convenience. It is something that adds new value in terms of flexible shopping options.
Unified self-service preference
In today’s relationship-era mindset, integration is the key between channels, within departments, and across platforms for better support and service.
Customers expect easy access to support service to answer their questions and solve their problems. They want first-time resolution of requests for assistance rather than repeating themselves every time they use a new channel or talk to a new support executive. In fact, they prefer self-service support options over assisted service across all touch points to get immediate answers any day, or time.
A personalized omnichannel self-service support experience (like help desk, knowledge base, apps, kiosks, etc.) facilitates customers to easily engage with the brand. Moreover, it offers them 24-hour-a-day support.
Omnichannel self service enables customers to get on-demand information with speed and convenience for instant problem resolution.
So, end consumers are no longer loyal to an individual channel but rather to a seamless experience across multiple channels.
In Internet Retailer’s Omnichannel Winner’s report, “Some of the largest retail chains in the U.S., such as Wal-Mart Inc., Macy’s Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and Target Corp. are committed to an omni-channel strategy…there is plenty of evidence that consumers like to shop across channels…omnichannel isn’t just a retail strategy, it’s about survival.”
It is quite evident that consumers demand an integrated omnichannel experience. But, it does not mean that every retailer must implement all components of omnichannel experience. They should first actively analyze their target customers’ needs and presence, and then create a process for integrating omnichannel capabilities to get the full value out of it.
Most retail brands are investing heavily in digital transformation to improve customer experience and accelerate growth. Omnichannel experience management is in major focus amongst retail brands.
This article originally appeared on the OSSCube blog by Shashin Shah.