What does omni-channel mean to you?
Over the years, the definition of using multiple channels has changed greatly. At first, it was simply adopting more than one channel, now it’s much more than that.
Businesses today must consider the effects of the digital transformation and pandemic on channel preferences, moments of engagement, verbiage and more.
In this blog, we’re taking a look at the concept of omni-channel today, and how you can use it to consistently meet customer needs.
What Does it Mean to be “Omni-channel”?
Omni-channel can be defined as the use of multiple, customer-preferred channels throughout the customer journey, in a seamless and cohesive manner. While that may sound simple enough, an examination of this definition unveils two elements of an omni-channel program, that have evolved monumentally over the years. Let’s take a look.
The first element is the adoption of customer-preferred channels. A common misconception is that omni-channel means offering every channel possible or offering all the channels your company wants. This is something businesses have practiced before, however, it’s ineffective in meeting customer needs and can hinder you operationally. Just because there are many channels available doesn’t mean you have to have them all. In contrast, a modern omni-channel program will only adopt a handful of channels that resonate with your customers and align with how much your team can take on. It is carefully curated and mapped out for optimal engagement and responses.
The second part of this definition worth examining is a seamless and cohesive experience. Many organizations today offer a range of channels, but the experience you get on each is different. A customer could get a response in minutes by writing in on Facebook but they might wait hours after reaching out via text. This inconsistency greatly affects the customer’s experience and ultimately, the perception of your brand. In contrast, a modern omni-channel program offers the same, engaging experience at each channel and touchpoint within the customer journey. A customer should be able to reach out on Facebook Messenger at the beginning of their experience, connect again via email later on, and get the same brand voice and time to respond, the entire way through.
The Impact of An Omni-Channel Experience
It’s no surprise that customers today leverage an array of channels. They’ll connect with friends on Instagram, keep up with their family via text and engage with colleagues over email, all within a single day.
For businesses, the value of mimicking this behaviour is unprecedented. As an expectation, offering this type of experience can foster loyalty, increase satisfaction and ultimately, help you drive revenue. To back up these statements, we’ve rounded up 9 statistics that showcase the massive potential of a cohesive omni-channel experience:
- 98% of Americans switch between devices on the same day. (Google Research)
- 77% of strong omni-channel companies store customer data across channels, compared to 48% for weak omni-channel companies. (Aberdeen Group)
- Omni-channel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel. (Google)
- Around 73% of customers prefer shopping through multiple channels. (Harvard Business Review)
- Over 35% of customers expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative on any channel. (Zendesk)
- The number of orders placed online and picked up at brick-and-mortar stores by customers grew 208% during the pandemic. (Adobe Analytics, 2020)
- Within six months after an omni-channel shopping experience, these customers had logged 23% more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s stores and were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than those who used a single channel. (Harvard Business Review)
- Businesses with omni-channel customer engagement techniques keep on average 89% of their customers, in comparison with 33% for businesses with weakened omnichannel customer engagement. (Aberdeen Group)
- Omni-channel customers spend 4% more in-store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. For every additional channel they use, customers spend more money. (Harvard Business Review)
Evidently customers today expect omni-channel experiences, and when you deliver on it, the reward is massive.
Redefining Omni-Channel With a Customer-Centric Mindset
Ultimately offering a modern omni-channel program begins with a shift in mindset.
As opposed to adopting channels with the sole focus of driving sales, it’s important to become customer-centric. This is because, when you understand the customer you know what channels to offer, when to offer them, verbiage to use, and more. The experience ultimately becomes better and satisfaction improves.
Customer centricity also benefits beyond the channels and can translate into offering better products, and services, improving employee experiences, and more. It’s a tactic, that more and more businesses are using after the pandemic, in order to meet demands and stay on top.
At the end of the day, your customers are the ones who decide your business’s success, so appeasing their preferences is critical to driving satisfaction.
Being realistic, we can’t be everywhere at once. If customers are writing in from Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Text and Email, your employees in charge of managing communication, are always going to have multiple tabs open and feel overwhelmed. Further, knowing who responded to what can get confusing and keeping tabs on the time to respond gets complicated.
In order to run a modern omni-channel program, that keeps up with channel preferences, leveraging technology is vital. Not only does it help you reach more customers but it also keeps your team organized and accountable. As an example, let’s look at a customer experience solution like Loop. Using Loop Inbox, all customer conversations, regardless of channels are directed to a single location. Similarly, any specific requests get tagged and routed to the right team member, reducing unnecessary back and forth. Further, you get direct insight into time to respond with robust analytics captured in real time. Have dashboards of data sent to you on a regular basis so you can motivate teams and inform stakeholders of progress.
The role of omni-channel in business has changed drastically over the past several years. From the emergence of the digital transformation to the rise of the pandemic, multi-digital communication experiences have become the norm. While a sense of urgency may persuade you to adopt an array of channels, it’s important to consider a customer-focused strategy to drive loyalty and experience greater return.