A Definition of Omni-Channel Customer Experience
Omni-channel customer experience involves using multiple channels to engage customers. When companies use social media, the web, email, and other channels to engage customers, they must ensure delivery of a seamless message across all touchpoints to maximize customer experience. Because customers use various devices, companies also must be sure to optimize the experience across smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Challenges of Omni-Channel Customer Experience
Delivering exceptional omni-channel customer experience has become more difficult as consumers have begun making use of more devices yet expect the same experience no matter which device they use. And, the challenge becomes even greater as consumers switch touchpoints in a single transaction; it now is common for consumers to research a product on a laptop, use their smartphone to check reviews and pricing, and then make a purchase using a smartphone, tablet, or phone. They expect to see the same information across all platforms, and they become frustrated when they don’t.
Customers also expect the same levels of customer service regardless of how they contact companies, so top omni-channel customer experience must also account for seamless customer service. Gartner predicts that 35% of customer support will take place on a mobile device by 2017. Yet, customers still expect – and nearly 33% will require – support from a person.
As a result, companies must ensure seamless customer service experiences across channels if they want to retain loyal customers, uphold their reputations, and maintain their business. Otherwise, unhappy customers share poor experiences on social media, in blog posts, and in reviews, and companies face the consequences of doling out poor customer experiences across various touchpoints.
Best Practices for Omni-Channel Customer Experience
Of course, the best way to go about optimizing omni-channel customer experience is to make your practices customer-centric. When going about your omni-channel design, put users at the center of your work and transform your strategy to create an experience that goes beyond their expectations. Keep in mind that consumers expect the same experience every time they interact with your company; when you deliver consistent omni-channel user experience, you build trust and improve your reputation.
Consumers also expect options, so you need to make your omni-channel experience available across all touchpoints and allow them to decide when and how to access your services. Use your customer data to determine which interactions your customers seek and then make them available on as many channels as possible. For example, many companies make customer accounts and order history available across channels because their customers want those services to be available even if they don’t use them as much as other services.
It’s also important to avoid promoting a single channel. When customers prefer a channel other than the one that you promote, they perceive a poorer experience. You need to ensure your omni-channel customer experience is channel-neutral and use an integrated approach to allow consumers to choose their touchpoints without losing out on features or content or feeling as though they are being penalized for using one channel instead of another.
Keep the context of your channels in mind when optimizing customer experience. Various channels may be better suited to different interactions, and the context of the channels may influence the customer interactions; this becomes easier when you keep customers at the center of your omni-channel efforts. For example, companies are using guest Wi-Fi programs, location-based services, and branded iPads and digital kiosks to personalize the shopping experience for customers. The context of your channels also helps you ensure that your omni-channel customer experience is seamless. Customers expect to be able to switch devices with little hassle or friction, and you need to meet their experience expectations.
Omni-channel customer experience gives companies a competitive edge as long as the customer experience is seamless and consistent across channels. Indeed, meeting and exceeding customer expectations by delivering exceptional omni-channel customer experience helps companies uphold their reputations and gain loyal customers. Companies that have a complete view of their customers and utilize customer data to personalize interactions have an advantage in delivering superior omni-channel customer experiences.
Further Reading on Omni-Channel Customer Experience
For further information on omni-channel customer experience, visit our blog. For your convenience, we have linked to three of our most recent omni-channel customer experience posts below: