Today, it’s more than common for businesses to connect on, and offer, an array of channels.
However, for many, simply adding a number of channels results in a highly disjointed customer journey or a hard-to-manage, overcrowded inbox.
Enter omni-channel engagement, a strategic way to enhance the experience through the use of multiple channels and consistent brand experience.
Let’s explore this term and how you can put it into practice.
What is Omni-Channel Engagement?
Omni-channel engagement is the use of multiple channels, in a cohesive and engaging manner, to serve and communicate with customers. Providing a seamless customer journey, the experience remains consistent, wherever the customer reaches out from.
The Difference Between Omni-Channel and Multi-Channel
Although common to assume omni-channel and multi-channel are the same, they are vastly different.
Multi-channel involves the use of multiple channels but does not offer a consistent experience. Think of a contact centre that works for a business; if a customer calls in, employees might not use the same verbiage as the business that hired them or have the brand’s values. This would be dissimilar to an experience you would have in-store, let’s say, where the brand would hold all these qualities top of mind. Therefore this disjointed experience has multiple channels but isn’t omni-channel.
Authors Note: To a business reading this, it may seem far-fetched to say that a disjointed happens regularly, but it does. In fact, Aspect reported 61% of surveyed customers claim they haven’t been able to easily switch from one channel to another when interacting with a brand.
Dissimilar to multi-channel, omni-channel is holistic and takes into consideration how the various channels work effectively with the touchpoints, devices, and customer experience as a whole. It provides this sense of continuity, with a central brand ethos and ensures all channels are connected for a seamless customer experience.
Why Is Omni-Channel Engagement Important?
For many businesses, learning to leverage an omni-channel engagement strategy becomes an integral part of success.
Not only because it provides control, creates a cohesive brand standard, and allows for an integrated approach to marketing and communication, but also because customers want it.
According to Aberdeen Group, companies with the strongest omni-channel engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies. In addition, 89% of consumers site it is important to have a variety of options to contact customer service, including voice, text message, and email.
With new and emerging technologies coming into play on a regular basis, customers are becoming more eager to channel hop and expectations for businesses continue to grow. Today, 90% of customers already expect consistent interactions across channels and another 35% of customers expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative on any channel.
As we make our way to a new era of digital, it becomes vital for businesses to leverage a connected approach to communication, using a customer-first mindset.
How To Successfully Onboard An Omni-Channel Strategy
An omni-channel strategy sounds promising, doesn’t it? It’s a unified way to communicate to customers while maintaining your brand values. Plus, customers want it!
In this next portion, we’ll share the major steps needed to commence your omni-channel strategy while of course, enhancing your customer experience program.
Audit Current Channels
It’s virtually impossible to build a fortified omni-channel strategy without taking a look at the channels you currently have and how effective they are. Write down every channel you offer both offline and online, how they have performed over the past several months, and make note of any new channels you’ve had your eye on.
Understand Customer Journey and Touchpoints
Understanding channels is one part of adopting the omni-channel engagement mindset, but another (and arguably more important) is understanding the touchpoints within your journey that they’ll fit into.
Once you’ve created your list of channels, look at your customer journey and recognize where each channel fits. From here you can discover gaps in communication and opportunities for new engaging channels.
Research New Channels
Today, customers on social media spend 20-40% more when companies engage and respond to them via social media. Social channels like Facebook Messenger, Instagram DM, Twitter DM, and more have taken greater precedence over channels like email and text message.
If your customer journey show gaps with the possibility for more channels, it’s time to research new and engaging ways to stay connected. When browsing channels, consider upcoming trends, current preferences, and what competitors are leveraging.
Test, Test, Test
You’ve done your research, selected your channels, and now it’s time to put them to the test. Depending on the amount of uplift required by your employees and the budget you’ve set, the time it takes to test your channels could range from several weeks to months.
Keep a consistent close eye on the success of your program. Make note of any channels doing better than others and any suggestions for adjustment as your channels progress.
Feedback will be one of the most important measurements of success for your engagement strategy. There’s nothing more telling than your customer’s responses to your new channels or adjusted strategy.
After you’ve completed a conversation, set up an automated survey message directing customers to rate their experience.
Omni-Channel Engagement Challenges a Unified Platform Can Overcome
It can be overwhelming at the start (to say the least) to manage multiple channels without a centralized inbox.
Think about it from an employee perspective, more channels mean more tabs open, more apps, and more running back and forth from their desk to the phone.
Thankfully channel management can be more streamlined. With a unified customer experience solution, like the Loop Experience Platform, you can eliminate the chaos of managing multiple channels and provide a streamlined engagement process. Further enhancing the cohesive nature of the omni-channel engagement strategy.
Here we highlight the top challenges of an omni-channel engagement program, that a fortified, intuitive solution can overcome.
Disjointed Customer Journey
As mentioned before, disjointed experiences are one of the biggest results of adopting too many channels without proper preparation. From a customer perspective, nothing is more cumbersome than having to repeat the same information over and over again, every time they use a new channel.
Using a unified platform, you can bypass this common problem by having all of your channels aggregated into a single inbox. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Text Message, Email, etc. all become available in a single view, so you can respond in real-time to customers with little to no uplift.
Inconsistent Brand Experience
Using the Loop Experience Platform, you also maintain consistency through the single view of customer conversations. Let’s say a customer reached out from 3 different channels, you can see them all in a single inbox to review and get an easier grasp of conversation history, previous verbiage used by employees and how to respond in a way that reflects brand standards.
An Absence Of Helpful Data
Measuring the success of your omni-channel engagement strategy is critical to constantly evolving it.
With a unified customer experience platform like Loop, you can collect data from every channel you offer to enhance decision-making. Create custom dashboards that share top channels, response rates, touchpoints and more, so management can constantly evolve programs, and you can further your omni-channel approach.