Why Does Omni-channel Experience Matter to Your Customers
Building and maintaining healthy customer engagement is crucial for any business for retaining existing customers, and for acquiring new ones.
An omni-channel approach has proven to be extremely helpful in this regard because of the way customer behavior and expectations have evolved over time.
The need for omni-channel customer engagement
A study conducted by Harvard Business Review discovered that as many as 73% of the customers surveyed by them used multiple channels throughout their shopping journey.
In the same vein, Lisa Gevelber, Google’s VP of Marketing, shared that 70% of the smartphone users turn to their device before making an in-store purchase.
An ever-increasing access to technology means that customers now have more options than ever in terms of the businesses they choose to engage with, and the channels they use to do so.
Similarly, the expectations from customer service are also higher than ever. Customers no longer need to bear with glitch-ridden experiences, they demand a thoroughly seamless experience from brands, and simply switch to a competitor if it’s not provided to them.
The omni-channel approach addresses these trends by its very definition: an omni-channel marketing strategy provides a consistent and seamless experience across all channels of engagement.
Providing real-time support to customers facing issues at any touchpoint during their user journey also comes naturally to an omni-channel platform.
The effectiveness of this approach is also evident from the statistics by Research Live: 87% of retail leaders agree omni-channel strategy is critical or very important to business success.
However, quite often this realization does not translate into tangible returns— only 8% of these retail leaders say they have actually achieved success. So, let’s look at a few ways an omni-channel approach can drive better customer engagement:
Being truly customer-centric
In today’s hectic world providing convenience to customers can set your brand apart from its competition.
An omni-channel approach provides you ways to do that by allowing you to engage your customers wherever and whenever it’s most convenient for them.
Consider the Bank of America which implements an omni-channel strategy by letting customers do their business with the same convenience across all channels.
For example, customers can pay their bills through their mobile device, over a POS, or through desktop apps, as part of a seamless engagement experience.
In the same way, by focussing on the need to make their customers’ experience more convenient, Walgreens developed a customer engagement strategy which allowed users to use the Walgreens app for checking and refilling prescriptions without having to call their pharmacy.
The app can also alert the customer if a prescription needs to be renewed.
Using technology to understand customers
Omni-channel customer engagement solutions and services from industry leaders like Epsilon use technical expertise to help businesses understand their customers down to the last detail.
According to Gartner, by 2020, smart personalization engines, used to recognize customer intent, will enable digital businesses to increase their profitability by up to 15%.
Rapid development in the field of emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, natural language processing, among many others, have made it easier to analyze customer behavior and put it to use by improving their experience.
Also, understanding your customers helps you address their pain points and ensure that they do not end up leaving your business.
Starbucks’ implementation of an omni-channel approach is a great example of recognizing and addressing an issue in the customer journey.
After observing the behavior of their customers, Starbucks realized that many of them were being discouraged by the long queues at the outlets.
Based on this insight, Starbucks worked on a solution that now allows people to place an order through their mobile app and then collect it from an outlet, thus saving time.
To further improve customer engagement, the Starbucks app is also fully integrated with their customer loyalty program.
Bringing personalization to your omnichannel approach
The importance of providing a personalized experience to customers cannot be overemphasized.
It sends out the message that you care about each and every one of your customers, and with a well thought out strategy it is perfectly possible to use personalization to increase revenue, deliver customer satisfaction, and inspire loyalty.
For instance, Sephora implements the idea of a tailored-for-each-individual experience in an effective way by using customer data not just to make incredibly personalized suggestions, but also by going the extra mile and giving birthday presents to their loyalty program members!
A personalized experience, therefore, needs to use technology in conjunction with a thoughtful approach that makes your customers feel cared-for, while still being respectful of their privacy.
A good answer
In conclusion, an omni-channel approach may not be a magic bullet to solve all your marketing woes, but it is a good answer to the question, ‘how to increase customer engagement’.
Keeping in mind these pointers and applying them alongside the nuances of your specific business requirements can really work wonders for the way that people interact with your business, and the experience they take away after that interaction.