Your Guide to Omnichannel Strategy Success

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The Gist Omnichannel focus. Developing a successful omnichannel strategy requires both customer-centric design and infrastructure…

The Gist

  • Omnichannel focus. Developing a successful omnichannel strategy requires both customer-centric design and infrastructure integration for a seamless experience.
  • Key components. Achieving consistency in customer engagement demands proper data and channel integration, employee training and the right technology tools.
  • Customized support. Expanding channels and providing customers with various support options not only empowers them to choose what works best, enhancing their journey, but also lays the groundwork for a comprehensive omnichannel sales strategy.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated on February 27, 2024 to include new data and information. The original content was authored by David Weldon. 

Customers and partners now expect to be serviced and engaged on their terms, from any location, and using the devices they choose. That puts pressure on organizations to provide a seamless and consistent experience across all products and channels.

Organizations looking to develop a successful omnichannel strategy for customer experience and engagement need to approach the effort from two perspectives: the customer perspective and the infrastructure perspective. 

“From the customer perspective, it means enabling engagement on whatever channel is preferred by the customer, and to enable that channel as effectively and with as good a UX as possible,” explained Bern Elliot, a research vice president at Gartner Inc. “In this sense, channel is not the focus at all. Interactions are designed and planned focused on customer needs and preferences, not the channel.” 

“From the infrastructure perspective, the UX design and the logistics of handling interactions across multiple channels must be considered,” Elliot explained. “As much as possible, these issues should be focused on enabling the seamlessness of the experience. Sometimes this is called a channel-less experience.” 

In this article, we’ll delve into crafting a seamless omnichannel strategy, crucial for customer engagement and pivotal in refining an omnichannel retail strategy, focusing on key components and expanding support channels. 

Why Is Omnichannel Important? 

The importance of omnichannel lies in its ability to provide a cohesive and consistent customer experience across all channels. Whether customers interact with a brand through online platforms, in-store or via mobile apps, they expect a seamless and personalized journey. This integration across channels not only improves customer satisfaction but also boosts loyalty and drives sales, making omnichannel strategies an indispensable part of modern business operations. 

An omnichannel strategy also offers invaluable insights into consumer behavior and preferences. By analyzing data across multiple channels, companies can gain a holistic view of their customer journey, allowing them to tailor products, services and marketing messages to customer segments or individuals. 

Related Article: 3 Signs Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy Is Working

How to Create an Omnichannel Strategy 

If one thinks about some of the biggest brands in the world, consistency and reliability are big factors in their success. Regardless of how customers choose to interact with those firms, they expect to have the same positive experience at every part of their journey, said Natalie (Nat) Onions, vice president of customer experience at Customer.io, a multichannel messaging platform driven by customer data.

According to Onions, key components of a successful omnichannel strategy include:

  • Customer data integration: Organizations need to have a unified view of the customer across all channels to provide the right support when it matters most.
  • Channel integration: Teams must be able to provide seamless and consistent interactions for customers across all channels at all times.
  • Adequate employee training: It is vital to train employees on how to provide consistent experiences and have full product knowledge to avoid unnecessary confusion, communication gaps and customer churn.
  • The right technology: Lacking the right technology, from supporting CSMs and support teams to managing customer data, disadvantages everyone. Investing in the appropriate omnichannel marketing solutions for every part of the customer experience is extremely important for ensuring long-term success.

“The initial onboarding phase for customers is where an omnichannel experience is most important,” Onions said. “Providing the initial pieces of training and navigation information should be done in a way that lets customers learn in a way that is comfortable for them and lets an organization start building their profile of preferences. This is also the best time to start thinking about enablement material, so that customers can self-serve their journey in a way comparable to working directly with one of your support agents.” 

Overcoming the Historical Challenges of Multiple Channels

Making all elements in a customer engagement effort seamless may be harder than it sounds. Historically, infrastructure issues have been so challenging that each channel was often designed in entirely different ways, explained Elliot. This was sometimes called a multichannel experience.

“While you could handle multiple channels, they were poorly integrated,” Elliot said. “Today, customers and vendors seek to create seamless omnichannel experiences, albeit with varying degrees of success.” 

A significant challenge, Elliot said, is that what qualifies as “good user experience” on one channel can have very different results on another. For example, what can be done with a rich mobile web interaction, supporting both visual and audio interactions from anywhere, is radically different from what can be done on a traditional phone with audio only. Therefore, not all experiences are a good fit for all channels.

Getting customers and partners comfortable with an omnichannel environment is also best done in steps, advised Onions.

Email is the primary channel for onboarding customers and introducing them to the Customer.io platform, Onions explained. A customer’s first interaction with the firm is typically through email verification, which sets the tone for their journey. The firm constantly tests and iterates on its email onboarding series to learn what resonates with people. And it is important to remember that expectations are constantly evolving, Onions said.

“We noticed over time that the activation point (fully implementing our platform and beginning first live use) was our biggest obstacle in converting customers into long-term, paying users,” Onions said. “We implemented an enhanced in-app channel for enablement and support to address this. We now present multiple options to customers via an in-app help center and a vastly improved notifications panel.”  

Measuring ROI for Omnichannel Strategies

In order to measure return on investment for omnichannel investments, organizations may want to first separate each channel and allocate it to the team that owns it, Onions advised. With specific teams owning specific channels and parts of the experience, it is much easier and clearer for them to identify the inputs for success and track metrics that drive ROI. 

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