In 2015, it was often debated whether “multichannel” and “omnichannel” were simply terms to be used interchangeably–a mere way of saying that a brand offered multiple channels of contact for their customers. Yet many argued that the differences, while subtle, are nonetheless critical to the customer experience approach. While multichannel does infer a brand presence across multiple channels, omnichannel focuses further on how this approach is implemented–namely, optimizing for a seamless customer experience across all channels.
Omnichannel customer experience spread across creates seamless interactions for consumers
Omnichannel customer engagement adopts the perspective of the customer by delivering a seamless and consistent message across all channels, allowing a customer to begin a transaction on one channel or one device and move to another seamlessly without losing a quality experience. For example, a company with an optimized omnichannel strategy would ensure that a mobile version of its website is fully accessible, has the same aesthetic appearance as the website, and delivers the same messages to the customer while enabling the same customer interactions–such as purchasing or contacting a customer service agent, even if buttons are used instead of weblinks–that are available on the website.
Many brands in various industries have been praised for delivering exceptional omnichannel experiences. For example, retailers like Apple and Target have achieved great success in making both in-store and online shopping a seamless experience, increasing sales and customer loyalty. Starbucks offers a rewards app that allows customers to check and reload their rewards cards via the app, phone, website, or in-store with all changes reflected in real-time across all channels.
However, recent statistics have cast light on customer frustrations with their overall omnichannel experiences. Accenture reported early in 2015 that 65% of consumers surveyed felt frustrated by inconsistent experiences across channels, while a survey of 120 chief marketing officers conducted by The CMO Club and Rakuten Marketing found that only 11% are currently implementing an omnichannel strategy with 55% claiming that their company has yet to do so. Forrester further reported that 43% of customer service teams struggle to support customers across channels.
Contact centers therefore need to make omnichannel strategy a priority, as it offers numerous benefits for brands and customers alike. By delivering a consistent message across all channels, brands give customers more options and better access to information, thereby increasing sales, customer satisfaction, and long-term loyalty. In addition, brands are able to collect data from their customers by tracking how and when they interact across channels, gaining critical insights that help improve customer service practices and marketing strategies. For example, if certain customers show a preference for social media channels, they may be targeted for social media advertising campaigns or should receive customer service follow-up contact on the channels on which they are the most active. Indeed, the millennial generation is highly active on social media and showing an increased demand for omnichannel brands, often preferring to switch from one social media platform to live chat with the click of a button and on the go. Omnichannel contact center software solutions further offer a single interface for customer interaction management, making it possible for agents across departments to access and handle customer data and offer faster, more efficient service for greater sales and customer satisfaction.
To deliver truly seamless omnichannel experiences, brands must observe and analyze customer behavior, engage customers proactively across all channels, and offer a rich and consistent experience at all times that caters to the needs and preferences of their customers. Only then will omnichannel become a truly customer-centric experience. Learn about Vocalcom contact center software solutions for seamless omnichannel customer experiences.