Many customer experience specialists argue over the meaning of a true omnichannel customer experience (CX). I am not one of them because for me, omnichannel is not just about multichannel or the communication channels used by customers to contact brands, but about asking customers the important question of “how does this brand make you feel?”
If that sounds vague, then let us look at a brand like IKEA. During the pandemic, most of their stores were forced to close due to lockdowns in various parts of the world. IKEA has a strong digital presence which is seamlessly connected to their physical stores, providing shoppers with a digital experience in-store such as the ability to view and collect products they have ordered online.
My colleague Paul O’Hara recently wrote about the IKEA customer experience and he noted that at least four in every five IKEA customers will start their shopping online. This means that even if they are in the store purchasing a product, it is highly likely that they first researched online before coming down to the store. Very few customers come in the store just to browse, as most know what they want beforehand and would just want to see the physical product, touch it, and confirm that it is exactly they saw online.
Customers today are using multiple channels to communicate from traditional voice channels, chat, and asynchronous messaging to social media, self-service, and SMS amongst others. Brands can provide their customers an omnichannel experience by integrating and providing a consistent customer experience across all channels. Most customers frequently flip between these channels at their convenience–from booking a holiday to getting support for their new mobile phone.
Although many companies have tried implementing a true omnichannel experience, not many have succeeded. I think organizations focus too much on the technology, not giving enough importance to the human touch.
However, high technology as advanced analytics is critical in mining customer intent, behavior, and experience across multiple channels as it helps in eventually creating an optimal operating model. Journey mapping–both internal and external–and using a design-thinking customer methodology is also key in establishing the ground rules for a successful omnichannel implementation.
Thankfully, the advent of cloud and smart outsourcing companies are helping organizations fulfil their dream of providing their customers the freedom to choose the channel of their choice, but not compromising on the coherent experience that their brands wish to offer.
Thank you for reading!
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