Although everyone is different, many customers follow the same steps before making a purchase or contacting a business. In addition to seeing and touching products, modern consumers research them online, read reviews, and find out more about the company that makes the product before buying. Likewise, businesses use a variety of touch points to reach their customers.
As a business it’s important to make sure you can keep up and satisfy all of your customer’s demands. To do so, you need to create an omnichannel customer experience that paints a positive picture of your brand.
Research suggests that people who use more than one channel to research products tend to spend more money. Additionally, companies that provide a wholesome experience may also see a reduction in customer support requests, relieving stress from their internal teams. Because of this, creating a positive omnichannel customer experience can boost profits and help your company establish a more productive work environment.
With the above in mind, developing a system that ensures a consistent approach through all channels is challenging. At Hiya, we help companies improve telephone interactions through our call intelligence and performance solution, so we know a thing or two about delivering a superb experience. Let’s take a look at the definition of omnichannel customer experience and explain how it differs from multichannel techniques. We’ll also provide tips on creating an omnichannel customer experience and discuss some of the channels you should leverage.
What is Omnichannel Customer Experience?
An omnichannel customer experience is a way for companies to create a cohesive and integrated customer experience no matter where or how a customer reaches out to the company. Omnichannel experiences consist of a multiple channel approach to marketing towards and serving customers who reach their site.
A company can create an omnichannel customer experience by opening up a variety of communication channels for their clients. In other words, this process consists of finding the channels that customers want to use to interact with your business and ensuring that these are available whenever necessary.
However, to have a truly omnichannel setup, your company needs to ensure that all of these communication lines are updated with the latest information in order to create a consistent experience for users, regardless of which one they use or in what order.
This means that your marketing, sales, and customer service departments need to be closely connected. The shared data should be updated in real-time so that your team knows exactly when the customer was contacted last and what happened during that interaction.
The Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel Customer Experiences
Before going any further, let’s take a moment to differentiate between a multichannel and an omnichannel approach to customer experience.
As the name suggests, a multichannel customer experience revolves around delivering support via different platforms in a seamless and unified way. These can include telephone, social media, email, in-person assistance, and any other channel that customers may use to interact with a business. But, in this approach, each channel is managed separately, so users can’t start a process through a channel and pick up the same on another.
Although it includes multiple channels, omnichannel customer experience is different from multichannel approaches because it ensures a consistent experience for customers across all platforms. Rather than managing each channel separately, these companies go the extra mile to ensure that all of their departments are connected and trained to collaborate with each other.
What About Omnichannel Marketing?
You may be familiar with the process of omnichannel marketing, which is a promotion method that reaches out to current and future customers through their favorite channels using a unified strategy. It’s also important to note that omnichannel marketing is not the same as creating an omnichannel user experience.
With the above in mind, if you already have an omnichannel marketing strategy in place, you have the blueprint and resources necessary to create an omnichannel experience for your customers. Just remember that the customer experience encompasses everything from the first contact right down to customer service and satisfaction, so you need to create a strategy that keeps this in mind.
Does an Omnichannel Customer Experience Produce Results?
It’s clear that an omnichannel customer experience increases convenience for clients, but does it have a positive impact on the performance of a company? As we mentioned previously, reports suggest that people who use multiple channels to research a product are more engaged and spend more money because their average order value is much higher.
Instead of simply allowing clients to reach you however they prefer, an omnichannel customer experience improves your reputation while attracting more profitable clients. These customers are also more likely to make more purchases over a prolonged period of time and generate higher long-term revenue for companies.
How to Build an Omnichannel Experience for Customers
Creating an omnichannel customer experience takes a lot of work and understanding of the target audience. There is no exact formula for success, so you need to develop a customized plan that takes your resources, competitors, and ideal customers into consideration.
With the above in mind, there are some general steps that almost every company needs to take in order to create a truly omnichannel experience. Some of the steps needed to create an omnichannel customer experience include:
Follow the Buyer’s Journey
It’s one thing to know your customers and what elements encourage them to buy. However, each one of your clients undergoes a similar process before making a purchase or asking for support. This is called the buyer’s journey, and you need to understand where it starts, where it ends, and every single interaction in between to create a better experience for customers.
By mapping out the steps that your customers take, you can make adjustments that help your clients. For instance, identifying the stages that they are most likely to need assistance and ensuring that they have your contact information at hand during this stage.
Leverage Technology Effectively
A few decades ago, providing a true omnichannel customer experience was impossible because the technology was simply not there. It was not possible to ensure a consistent experience through all possible contact channels, let alone sharing information in real-time with other departments.
Today, companies have all the technology they need to ensure a great experience for all users. But, not all companies have the right technology mix. This means that you have to identify all the tools you need from the get-go, evaluate the different providers, and choose the best platforms for your case.
Study All Elements that Affect User Experience
Your branding and service quality are both essential, but there are dozens of variables that affect the way customers feel when interacting with your business.
For example, website elements like the overall color scheme, loading time, and content all influence how users behave on your site. You should aim to study and understand all of these variables to understand what potential adjustments you can make to improve the performance of your omnichannel strategy.
As part of your research, you can test out small variables like the color of the buttons on your site and analyze how these affect your efforts. You may be able to identify a good approach early on and hone on it over time.
Collect Feedback from Users
Although most business owners usually overlook this resource, companies can always turn directly to their customers and collect feedback from them. There is actually no better way of getting information about your audience’s preferences, so don’t be afraid to run polls or send out survey emails that help customers give their opinions.
Some clients will be happy to share their thoughts, but you may also have to offer an incentive in order to get customers to leave feedback. For instance, you can give users a 5% off voucher in exchange for a survey, but note that this may alter the results of the survey.
Evaluate the Performance of Channels Individually
Once your omnichannel support system is online, you need to monitor the performance of each individual channel. This will help ensure that all areas of your omnichannel support mechanism are performing at peak capacity. In most cases, if one of your channels is underperforming, it means that there is something wrong with that channel.
The issues you can encounter range from functionality problems, like not receiving notifications sent through social networks, to more technical challenges, like a lack of synchronization between departments.
Adjust to New Trends
The only certain thing about consumer trends is that they are always changing, so you need to stay updated with the latest vogues. This goes for your industry in general and for the technologies that can help you deliver a better customer experience. For example, if a new social network starts attracting more attention than Facebook and other established platforms, you need to make a new profile on the new network early on.
3 Things that Customers Are Actually Interested In
Before the popularization of the internet, customers could choose from a limited number of ways to interact with a company. Today, consumers can contact companies through social media, instant messaging platforms, emails, websites, and online directories. And, that list doesn’t even include all digital channels, let alone traditional ones like phone calls or face-to-face interactions.
The communication channels may change, but customers are usually delighted by a similar set of features when interacting with a company through multiple channels. The three most important ones are:
Speed and Flexibility
To create a positive omnichannel experience, the communication channels available to your customers should be fast and flexible. In other words, you need to reply to user interactions as fast as possible and make sure that your communication channels help customers get their points across. This may be achieved by allowing customers to upload images to go along with their message, for instance.
The ideal response speed varies by channel, so you should evaluate the different options you’ve made available to your customers and create a plan to reply accordingly. Social media interactions require the fastest response, but you can shorten response time by employing a chatbot.
Transparency and Trustworthiness
While it may seem obvious, consumers want to work with transparent and trustworthy companies. This isn’t necessarily achieved through omnichannel support, but you need to ensure that all customer-facing agents are trained to communicate properly and keep clients in the loop at all times during their interactions.
Besides keeping customers informed, your team should also proactively reach out and take charge of issues before customers are forced to reach out.
Customer Care and Support Quality
It doesn’t matter if your internal team is fast and trustworthy, if they don’t deliver great customer care, your customers will not have a positive experience. On that note, also remember that the quality of your product and support team will also affect how customers perceive your business.
If you want to deliver a positive omnichannel experience, you have to train your team to handle customer interactions with care and make sure that your employees strive to solve customer issues every time.
Tips to Help Improve Your Chances of Success
There’s no doubt that the number of variables affecting customer experience can be overwhelming. This is one of the reasons why you need to take every precaution that helps improve your chances of success.
For starters, you should make sure that your company has all the foundational elements it needs to develop a truly omnichannel approach. Take telephone calls, for example. If you don’t currently identify your company when calling customers, you can’t expect them to pick up every time you reach out. Instead, you need to find a way to show customers and prospects who you are and why you’re calling.
Some additional steps you can take to improve your chances of success include:
Create a Blueprint for Your Entire User Experience Plan
As with your marketing or business operations, you need to create a blueprint to help you set up the best omnichannel experience for your customers. You should also gather statistics to use as a baseline and keep a close eye on how your customer experience metrics improve in order to adjust your plan accordingly.
Moreover, your plan should also include your goals, how you will achieve them, your overall budget, and any other relevant detail you can think of. Just remember to create deadlines for yourself to keep the project moving along.
Assess the Customer Service Journey
We discussed the importance of analyzing the buyer’s journey, but businesses also have to assess the steps that customers take before contacting the support department. This process, which can also be referred to as the customer service journey, will help you decide how you can produce a positive omnichannel experience.
Always remember that testing is part of the assessment and analysis process. So, don’t be afraid to give customers different options depending on where they are in the customer service journey and evaluating the results you get.
Ensure a Robust IT Network
The technology platforms you leverage will impact performance, but these won’t work properly if your IT network is not set up properly. A true omnichannel experience means that customers are able to start an interaction through one channel and complete it through another without having to start again. This is only possible if a robust IT network that’s powerful enough to support real-time data transferring is in place.
Channels You Should Leverage
As we mentioned before, there are dozens of different channels that your customers can use to contact your business. Rather than providing support through every option, you should take the time to identify the channels that your specific customers prefer and create a seamless, omnichannel customer experience whenever a client contacts you through these.
Some of the most common channels companies take advantage of include:
Almost 29% of people prefer interacting with companies over the phone, so calls are included in most omnichannel strategies. That said, a large percentage of people avoid picking up the phone if they don’t know who’s calling. So, you need to include enhanced caller ID implementation into your omnichannel strategy if you want to get the best results.
Your company website represents your business online. Luckily, sites are extremely flexible and you can do just about anything in terms of design as well as the features you want to include. Many businesses have found success by developing a self-service portal for customers to troubleshoot their own issues while also providing support over the phone and live chat.
Social Media Profiles
Social media platforms are now an integral part of modern society and they give companies the ability to connect with customers at a personal level. Consumers, on the other hand, have started using social networks as a way to ask questions, learn more about their favorite businesses, and get help quickly. Company owners can leverage Facebook and similar networks to respond in real-time and help customers get answers regardless of the type of device they are on.
Want to Create a Superb Phone Experience? Contact Hiya Today
Digital channels give businesses a lot of flexibility, but many consumers still prefer phone calls because they always have a personalized touch. That said, getting customers to pick up the phone isn’t easy if they don’t know who’s calling.
Hiya Connect allows you to identify your call and tell customers why you’re trying to reach them. Download our Sales Metrics eBook to find out which metrics you should be optimizing to boost sales.