What is an Omnichannel Customer Experience and Why Does it Matter?

Today’s customers are digitally savvy and have high expectations when it comes to customer experience. These expectations go beyond just an answer to a phone call or a response to an email. Customers expect to be able to reach a business through multiple channels and get reliable answers to their questions in real-time.

Being able to connect with a business via phone or email is table stakes today. To remain relevant, businesses will need to adapt their channel mix.

According to a report from Microsoft, 66% of customers around the globe use at least three different communication channels to contact a business, making an omnichannel customer experience crucial.

What is an Omnichannel Customer Experience?

Simply put, an omnichannel customer experience is a unified approach to customer interactions across a mix of contact channels. A successful omnichannel customer experience ensures that no matter what channel a customer contacts your business from, they can expect the same quality of service.

Why is an Omnichannel Customer Experience Important?

With the explosion of social media, customers expect to reach a business in more ways than ever before. It’s important when switching between channels that the experience remains seamless to the customer. According to a study done by Salesforce, 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage – whether that be social networks, in-person, online, or by phone. The pressure is on, not just to deliver great customer service, but great customer service in every channel at every step in the buyer journey.

Challenges of Implementing a Successful Omnichannel Customer Experience

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t have the capability to provide a consistent experience at every touchpoint. Here are some of the common barriers faced by companies attempting to implement a successful omnichannel customer experience program.

Challenge #1: Overcoming Data Silos

Traditionally, businesses have channels that are aligned with specific business units. Support may handle one channel, while sales might handle another. To get 360-degree visibility into the customer, all data needs to be readily available in a single data warehouse. This ensures that all customer communications can be tracked and managed.

Challenge #2: Getting the personalization right

When a customer contacts you, it’s important that you’re able to identify any past interactions that you’ve had. After all, 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business. Problems occur when businesses are unable to keep track of previous interactions with a specific customer.

Challenge #3: Getting humans and technology to work together

Once you have a great strategy in place, you need to make sure your employees are trained on how to execute that strategy. Often, an employee will be asked to use new technology without understanding the processes needed to make it work effectively. It’s important to take time to onboard and train your employees on any new system or channel you are planning to use to ensure they are delivering the experience that you expect.

Building an omnichannel customer experience

Here are three steps that can help businesses deliver an omnichannel customer experience.

Listen to customer feedback

Improving your customer experience means getting a sophisticated understanding of how customers perceive their interactions with your brand. Sending surveys after specific interactions to see whether the customer’s expectations were met will allow you to make changes to your business operations based on what you learn.

Identify where your current experience is fragmented

Customer experience is constantly evolving and it’s important to identify gaps in your business’s procedures. In the last few years, few small businesses had any type of chat functionality on their website. Now, 79% of customers say webchat is their preferred communication channel. When evaluating your business’ customer experience, it’s important to make sure sure that you’re keeping up with changing trends.

Conclusion

Though it’s not always easy to implement an omnichannel customer experience, it is a necessary part of delivering consistency across different touchpoints. Check out this handy guide for more on understanding and improving customer experience.

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