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OMNI-CHANNEL- What does it mean in Customer Experience?
CloudCherry | Featured | April 18, 2017
Omni-channel! It’s a word that’s been thrown around a lot these days. Given that marketers are having to come up with intelligent ways to drive customer engagement, the concept of omni-channel is now ubiquitous.
So, how does this fit right into the Customer Experience model? In order to understand this, let’s get straight to understanding the meaning of the word Omni-channel first!
My most favourite (and most reliable) way to understand concepts that are equivocal in nature is to dig up its etymology. I like to get to the root of it. And etymologically speaking, Omni-Channel can be broken into 2 parts:
OMNI which means ‘All’ & CHANNEL, as we all know, is a means of expression or path of communication.
Putting it together in its microscopic sense, we have it: Omni-Channel: An all-inclusive means of communication.
From a business standpoint, here’s the definition of Omni-Channel from Frost & Sullivan– “seamless and effortless, high-quality customer experiences that occur within and between contact channels“.
Straight-forward, isn’t it! Based on this definition, to be truly omni-channel in your CX approach you need make sure that the experiences that you deliver to your customers are seamless, effortless, high-quality within & between contact channels or as we call it, touchpoints.
All in all, we can understand Omni-channel as a stream of communication that is open to and from the customers & the business, across as many touchpoints as required, which allows for a seamless experience.
Many brands fall into the trap of assuming that both are the same while in fact they are both significantly different. In the simplest explanation, being multi-channel (in customer experience) could only mean that you collect feedback from via multiple channels or are open to communicating with your customers across multiple platforms. Like if a brand adopts mystery shopping, has a visitor’s book at the store, sends out SMSs and e-mails, etc to its customers. They are adopting “multiple channels” to engage with their customers. This is all there is to being “multi-channel.
Being Omni-channel, on the other hand, includes one crucial aspect that makes it significantly more impactful that being multi-channel. It comprises a bit more than just collecting feedback across many channels. Being omni-channel means creating an experience for your customers that is consistent across all these multiple touchpoints. In other words, omni-channel is nothing but multi-channel but with the promise of consistency and seamlessness in the experience & messaging. No matter which channel you engage your customer on, he/she has the same experience – be it on the mobile, at the store, in-app, on the website, or wherever.
One brand- One experience. Not just this, it also attempts to use the data collected from different sources to get a unified understanding of the customer. This is where omni-channel takes the cake.
While more and more businesses are gearing up for the adoption of an omni-channel customer experience and its myriad benefits, a lot of them fall prey to the few challenges that haunt this exercise. By carefully planning out your omni-channel strategy, you can surpass these challenges and reap the myriad benefits that you were promised! Here are two of the biggest challenges that most businesses face while designing an Omni-channel Customer experience:
The top management’s belief in the brand promise is what trickles own to each and every employee and activity within the organisation. So knowing what your brand stands for and having a tight grasp of the message you want your brand to send out is key to creating a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints. Once this is taken care of, align all your customer experience activities around it. Train all your customer-facing staff (and everyone else too!) to sing the same song so that your customers know exactly what awaits them when they bring their business to you- be it online or offline, physical or digital.
No matter what your business strategy is, your customers’ tastes and preferences are changing. So, if you wish to stick to the more traditional ways of doing business, be warned that your customers can and will move onto someone else who resonates with their choices better. Knowing who your target audience is and creating an omni-channel experience keeping this in mind is crucial to the success of your omni-channel customer experience strategy. In a world that is increasingly becoming digital, you cannot afford to lose out on any channel on which you can communicate with your customers.
Well, in a nutshell, the more customer-centric your brand is, the more customers you’ll attract!
Think about it. If you were to do business with a brand that gives you a grand total of two platforms on which you can reach out to them, would you continue to do business with them knowing fully well that there a hundred other brands who throw open the doors of communication across a dozen (or more) channels? Exactly! Your customers expect more and rightfully so. This is the era of the customer. So your omni-channel customer experience strategy could be a game changer for your business, as long as you keep the experience you deliver seamless and consistent across all the touchpoints! Remember- One Brand, One experience!