The Age of the Omnichannel Experience
Previously, customer service only included the unichannel mode of communication, where customers communicated with companies through a single channel. The new generation Customers today expects more and they seek seamless and consistent customer experience online. According to Research by Lordhouse on 7,000 customers across 7 countries “67percent of online shoppers have made purchases that involve multiple channels in the past 6 months.”
Organizations need to provide exemplary customer experience to build the foundation for customer delight. The millennials have the option of seamlessly connecting with a brand either through a physical store or through online mediums. The demand proliferation of any brand completely depends on the level of satisfaction that the customers experience. Thus, the shift in consumer demographics and communications preferences has created an environment where multichannel communications are no longer ideal for optimization of customer experience. Over the past couple of years, it is omnichannel that has taken the world of customer communications by storm.
Omnichannel customer communication existed as an unfamiliar concept until it was introduced to the sphere of marketing in 2010, to portray customer experience that extends beyond multichannel. In 2012, Omnichannel took the shape of a trendy buzzword when customers used an average of 3.7 mobile devices to research pricing before purchasing.
Nevertheless, with the incessant rise of social media, omnichannel has rapidly become a marketing necessity. In 2014, $12 billion retail sales were made on smartphones and $1.1 trillion store sales were largely influenced by the web. These figures speak volumes about the present-day customer who wants to make optimum use of social media and the web before making any transaction.
Omnichannel and customer experience
The realm of customer servicing would have been satisfied with multichannel if only it could have able to integrate all channels of communication under a single interface. Customers expect seamless and consistent online experience, and won’t tolerate being restricted to a single communication channel. Omnichannel customer experience reflects the ability of customers to be in touch with a brand through multiple options like social media platforms, mobile devices, mobile apps, etc. These communication channels are augmenting and has become the center for serving customers from anywhere.
The Omnichannel customer engagement model also helps in tracking the entire customer’s journey and thereby creates a consistent and optimised experience, something that the multichannel approach doesn’t factor in. The Omnichannel allows customers to initiate communication on one channel and thereafter, smoothly glide to another channel, without going through the hassles of restarting the conversation. Thus, putting the customer at the centre of its strategy rather than corporate silos.
The future ahead
With the advancement in technology and increased usage of social media networks, marketers have the option to communicate with customers via different mediums. Businesses are gearing themselves for the dive from a multichannel orientation to a more holistic omnichannel approach. Customers are expecting unified experience leading to the demand for customised offers. Thus, with the help of omnichannel, marketers have the option to track about their choices with the help of omnichannel interactions.
The year 2015 can be touted as the year where the term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) received great attention. According to a Forrester report, there has been a massive 89 percent increase in retailers that integrate mobile technology into stores. Brands are adapting to the ever rising number of channels of interaction, customer touch points and wireless devices, as IoT is quickly becoming a reality. Furthermore, mobile commerce is predicted to grow by 33 percent annually for the next three years.
Omnichannel is no longer an option; it is a necessity, given the evolution in customer preferences and expectations. At the same time, it should be viewed as a superior way to interact with customers and to reduce the gap between companies and consumers. Also, with the help of a unified customer engagement platform brands have the power to create optimal customer journeys consistently across all touchpoints, channels and interactions to turn customers into brand advocates. Thus, supporting the dynamic needs of organizations for providing proactive customer service by automating day-to-day operations to stay ahead of competition.