7 MIN READ

Making Sense of the Omnichannel Customer Experience

Harriet Walton

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Grayling Ferguson

    Over the last decade, the number of businesses occupying the UK’s highstreets has declined; a trend that accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of these businesses have made the decision to join those who market, sell and interact with consumers online, significantly reducing overhead costs and allowing businesses to thrive. This move has forced businesses to change the way they enable customers to interact with their services and providing as many customer touchpoints as possible is essential to the survival of businesses, especially in heavily saturated sectors such as fashion, electrical goods and homeware.

    As someone who was raised in a time where technology is taken for granted, I am all too familiar with the mentality that comes with having the world at your fingertips and a parcel delivered the next day. With thousands of brands to choose from, those with a reputation for being faster, simpler and more accessible are going to win consumers attention and custom.

    Key Considerations

    At the end of each channel sits a different group of potential customers whose attention is waiting to be attracted. By offering an omnichannel customer experience, a consumer can take any number of routes to making a purchase from browsing online and purchasing in-store and vice versa. When it comes to purchasing new clothes, for example, some customers will not buy without heading in-store to try on a product before buying; whilst for others, the ability to try a product on at home is far preferable. Other factors such as age and geographical location can impact a consumer’s preferred method for interacting with a brand. By facilitating as many customer preferences as possible, a business can remove boundaries between their products and consumers, increase sales and increase returning customers rates.

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    Businesses have had to create as many touchpoints as possible to survive in a newly volatile marketplace, but with many touchpoints comes confusion. How do we understand their omnichannel CX?

    Another key area of consideration for a positive customer experience is accessibility. Providing multiple methods for a consumer to interact with a business means a wider range of consumer needs can be accommodated. For example, screen reader technology has advanced incredibly over the last few years, acting as a significant aid to those with visual impairment and a range of physical and mental disabilities. However, some web designs can prove difficult for this technology to navigate fully, especially when operating within mobile applications, meaning having a website can bring these consumers back to a business as a potential customer.

    What Channels are Available?

    It is key for businesses to take advantage of the never-ending source of readily available channels such as social media and mobile apps, meaning brand awareness and sales can be achieved in a faster time period and often, with a smaller budget. With many brands using influencers or celebrities to promote products on social media, one post can link millions of consumers to a company account or website in seconds. Integrating different touchpoints for a brand into a smooth customer journey can reduce the likelihood of a consumer exiting this journey before making a purchase. With the use of technology, marketing campaigns, new product ranges and promotional events can reach a larger audience than ever before, whilst removing the necessity to have feet on the streets distributing physical media. This allows a new or smaller business to place themselves in a more competitive position next to larger or more reputable brands.

    This is not to say, however, that in-person elements are insignificant to creating a successful omni-channel customer experience. Printed media such as magazine or posters now have the added power to be able to link to a digital platform such as via the use of QR codes. The inclusion of a small QR code can allow a consumer to see a product or campaign, scan the code with a smart device and be taken directly to a web page where they can interact with the brand and this product can be purchased. This removes the need for a consumer to remember and proactively search for a product they are interested in, making the customer journey simpler and a positive interaction more likely.

    Customer Service

    Whilst sales are an obvious area of benefit from providing an omnichannel customer experience, consumers are always looking for more convenient ways to contact a business’s customer service team. To avoid spending time in a phone queue, many consumers take to company social media pages and websites to access chat functions to resolve their queries. Additionally, when experiencing disruption to a service, consumers seek access to regular updates from the business, removing the need for them to initiate contact.

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    Understanding a brand's typical customer journey allows stakeholders to identify beneficial touchpoints and pain points, and then work towards building their optimal omnichannel customer experience.

    Omnichannel CX and Market Research

    Connecting with customers via market research grants a business the opportunity to understand what their optimal omnichannel experience looks like. Brand awareness research allows a company to identify who their customers are and how they interact and engage with the brand, while competitor analysis identifies how these same customers interact with a brand’s competitors and comparisons between the two can be truly enlightening.

    Gaining a stronger understanding of what a brand’s typical customer journey looks like means businesses can identify the most beneficial customer touchpoints to develop and maintain. Communication with consumers also gives a brand the opportunity to troubleshoot and identify common pain points to continually improve their customer experience. Additionally, by measuring the success of advertisement campaigns in terms of reach and transfer to sales, insight teams can inform on the best use of marketing resources and highlight points of comparison with competitor brands. By monitoring overall market trends, a brand can identify new opportunities to develop their customer experience and ensure their position as a successful brand.

    In summary, by adopting an omnichannel approach to the customer experience, any touchpoint with a business represents the start of a sleek, simple journey to the completion of the interaction, whether that be making an enquiry, a purchase or contacting a business representative. Any point of inconvenience throughout thus journey increases the likelihood of losing engagement with that customer now and in the future.

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