Enhanced customer satisfaction, high customer engagement, and increased revenue are good reasons to develop an omnichannel customer experience. Still, it takes more than integrating multiple channels to build a successful one.
It takes a strategic approach, continuous optimization, a customer-centric mindset and a well-planned omnichannel strategy to make it all possible.
This guide introduces the benefits of a successful omnichannel strategy, the challenges of implementing one and best practices for creating an omnichannel experience that delights customers and drives business results.
What you will learn about omnichannel customer experience:
What is omnichannel customer experience?
An omnichannel customer experience is a fully-integrated approach that revolves around delivering a consistent, seamless, and delightful experience to customers across various sales channels. It is a holistic strategy that integrates every customer touchpoint, whether email, social media, or in-person, to provide the best customer experience.
An omnichannel strategy aims to create a unified and personalized customer experience, regardless of the channels they choose to interact with the business. However, it’s important to note that this form of experience does not replace traditional channels; instead, it combines them into a unified strategy.
How effective is your CX strategy?
To answer the above question, conduct a customer experience (CX) audit of your existing strategy, including:
- Document existing strategies: Record and analyze the current approaches that your business is taking to the CX experience across all channels. That includes understanding the goals, processes, and technologies currently being used.
- Identify key customer touchpoints: Track your key touchpoints to understand every interaction a customer has with your brand. Analyze each touchpoint to evaluate its strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement.
- Compare customer ratings: Gather feedback to evaluate the customer’s experience with your product and customer service. Collect quantitative data and qualitative data for an extra layer of insights.
- Benchmark against competitors: Compare your CX metrics to industry standards to identify if you’re falling short and recognize opportunities to differentiate yourself.
You can read more in our guide to learn how to build a winning CX strategy.
The significance of an integrated customer experience
Creating an integrated customer experience is crucial in today’s digital landscape for numerous reasons, including:
- It boosts customer satisfaction, loyalty, and promotes advocacy: Customers who have a great experience across all channels are more likely to remain paying customers. Every positive experience fosters loyalty and encourages customers to become brand advocates.
- Optimized Resource Allocation: Implementing an effective omnichannel strategy allows businesses to optimize resource allocation by identifying the most impactful channels to invest the most effort. This helps companies to streamline operations, reduce costs, and increase profit.
- Creates a consistent brand experience: An integrated customer experience provides a consistent brand experience for users across every touchpoint, whether chatting with a customer support agent over the phone or visiting a physical store.
- Enable teams to pivot quickly and make data-driven decisions: Businesses adopting an integrated experience use analytics and customer behavior data to personalize customer journeys and introduce new features.
- Increased revenue by improving customer retention and attracting new customers: When businesses understand customers, it’s easier to address their pain points, anticipate their needs, and build products that meet their expectations.
Unlocking the advantages of an omnichannel approach
Apart from integrating multiple channels to provide a frictionless experience, an omnichannel approach can impact your business in other ways:
1. Create a Seamless customer journey from pre-purchase to post-purchase
Interrupted transitions in the customer journey create friction, frustrate customers, and disrupt their user experience. In an omnichannel experience, customers can easily switch between channels and enjoy continuity, resulting in a more enjoyable journey.
2. High customer retention and loyalty due to accurate segmentation and personalization.
Omnichannel experiences provide a complete picture of the customer across multiple channels so that brands can have a unified view of their interactions and history. Leverage this data to segment customers and create a personalized experience based on their unique needs, preferences, and behaviors.
3. Supports multi-channel engagement within a single interaction
On average, 51% of companies use at least eight channels to interact with customers, including emails, social media, websites, phones, live chat, and in-store. An omnichannel experience allows consumers to reach out to companies on their preferred channels and receive a quick and helpful response from a customer service expert.
4. Create a consistent customer experience across any channel to reduce customer effort.
Embracing an omnichannel approach creates a consistent experience across channels. This means customers can trust that they will receive a similar level of service, quality, convenience, and information regardless of the channel they use. This way, it’s easy to eliminate variations in the customer journey, making it an effortless and frictionless experience.
5. Increased revenue due to higher customer engagement, more conversions, and more sales
When customers have a positive experience, they actively interact and engage with the business. This creates more opportunities for brands to create deeper customer connections and build product loyalty.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel: unveiling the key differences
Omnichannel and multichannel are strategies for communicating with customers, with two distinct goals.
The term “omnichannel” translates as “available in all channels,” meaning that a customer can switch between any sales channel, like a website or a physical store, and still get a consistent brand experience. Multichannel means “many channels,” meaning customers can interact with many channels, but their experience isn’t unified.
Omnichannel focuses on the customer and utilizes every available channel to provide a seamless experience, whereas multichannel focuses on the product and uses multiple channels to promote it.
Implementing an omnichannel experience requires data synchronization of customer history and alignment between teams to eliminate channel gaps. On the other hand, multichannels operate independently within their respective silos, sometimes resulting in disjointed touchpoints.
Building a cohesive customer experience across channels
There’s no hard rule for building a cohesive omnichannel customer experience. However, there are practical tips and strategies you can follow to help you build a successful one.
1. Understand your customer’s expectations.
There’s no better place to start with customer experience than to understand your customers’ wants and needs. An omnichannel strategy aims to create a positive experience, and failing to understand the customer will result in a misalignment between a business and its customers.
Depending on your customer base, you may have sufficient data from existing customers to create a comprehensive persona. Otherwise, refer to your preliminary research or contact prospective customers for meaningful insights.
2. Chart the path of the customer journey
Identify the key milestones and touchpoints customers encounter throughout their journey and categorize them based on the stages of the customer journey (pre-purchase to post-purchase). This will help identify where an omnichannel experience can be implemented, such as a live chat pop-up.
Simply put, customer touchpoints are every interaction that a customer has with a brand through a website, social media, or physical stores. Use a visual tool like Miro to organize your data, capture the entire journey (including the stages, touchpoints, emotions, motivations, and pain points), and map the current state of your existing customers.
Once your customer journey map is complete, analyze it for patterns and trends to identify high friction points, opportunities for personalization, and potential gaps in your marketing or sales funnel.
3. Amplifying insights through customer feedback
Whether good or bad, customer feedback plays a huge role in optimizing your omnichannel customer experience. Listening to what customers say about their experience will help you identify areas for improvement. You can collect customer feedback through the following:
- Run user feedback surveys to gather contextual insights from existing customers.
- Use a social listening tool like Sprout Social to capture conversations that people are having about your brand on social media.
- Conducting interviews with individual users or focus groups
- Analyze customer support tickets and online reviews to get insight into satisfaction levels.
- Talk to stakeholders who regularly interact with customers.
4. Harnessing appropriate technologies for success
Managing customer data across multiple channels can be challenging, especially if you have a huge customer base or a complex product. This is where businesses must leverage advanced technology.
Integration and automation are at the core of an omnichannel experience. Consider integrating multiple technologies like customer relationship management (CRM) systems, marketing automation tools, omnichannel communication platforms, and data analytics.
CRMs like Salesforce can help you store and manage customer data, like contact information, purchase history, and behavior across multiple channels, to personalize your product offerings.
Use automation software to automate and optimize your omnichannel marketing campaign across different platforms. Chatbots also provide instant and automated responses to customers’ queries, so they don’t wait for long.
5. Identifying key stakeholders in the process
Delivering a cohesive omnichannel customer experience becomes easier when all parties are aligned and working towards a similar goal.
By identifying key stakeholders (both internal and external) early on, you can involve them in the planning and implementation to get them on the same page regarding brand image consistency. This can help prevent any issues or delays down the line.
Segment their roles, rights, security, and access so each stakeholder can play their part. Involving stakeholders can help you build buy-in and support for the omnichannel strategy, which can be crucial for success.
6. Optimize your post-purchase experience
After making a purchase, ensure that customers don’t feel alone in figuring out how to use your product. Why not take a step further by optimizing your post-purchase experience?
You can send out personalized recommendations on how to use their new purchase. A great example is Dossier, a perfume brand that sends personalized tips to help customers smell nicer for longer.
Enhancing the omnichannel customer experience
Here’s how to enhance or elevate your omnichannel strategy to create an exceptional customer experience before, during, and after purchasing.
Understand your customers for targeted engagement.
To truly understand your customers, go beyond analyzing data points. Customers have unique likes, intentions, and needs, which vary depending on innovations, seasons, or trends. Actively engage with them. Learn to delight and excite them without overwhelming them. Tools like Sprout’s social media engagement tool help you understand what customers expect from you and how to address them.
Learn from industry leaders
It’s one thing to learn about building an omnichannel experience; quite a different ball game to build a successful one. Why not start by learning from industry leaders?
These are companies that have a successful track record of creating seamless experiences across their channels. Take Starbucks, for example. On the surface, they’re like any other coffee shop, but with an immersive omnichannel strategy, they transformed their brand into an $80 billion business.
Pick the top 2-3 successful companies in your industry. Study their strategies and approaches to gain insight into their omnichannel’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, how do they interact with their audience on social media? This will help you know what to capitalize on and what common pitfalls to avoid.
Enhance mobile capabilities
At least 85% of time spent on smartphones is spent using apps. Many customers interact with brands through smartphones, so businesses must optimize their mobile capabilities. This covers your apps’ functionality, performance, responsiveness, design, and security.
By enhancing mobile capabilities, brands can leverage mobile-specific features for more personalization. Features like location-based offers and push notifications can deliver personalized and contextually relevant content to users, enhancing the omnichannel experience.
Providing an omnichannel experience with the right customer support increases the effectiveness of your strategy. When customers encounter an issue, like a bug, make it easy to resolve by providing user-friendly support channels.
Looking to create omnichannel support? Here are some ideas to help you:
- Create a knowledge base to help customers find answers to questions, guides, or troubleshooting instructions.
- Use cutting-edge technologies like chatbots to give personalized responses.
- Provide email support so customers can send their queries and receive personalized responses.
- Live chat with a customer service rep
- Create an online community where customers can ask questions and get help from a company rep or other members.
- Phone chat, sms messaging, or video chat.
Streamline response times
Fast response time is an important attribute of an effective omnichannel strategy. Based on our Sprout Social Index, we found that 59% of customers expect a fast response to their queries within two hours.
Streamlining response times can help:
- Reduce wait time and distribute support volume to prevent individual channels from getting bombarded with tickets.
- Alert customer service agents of customers’ intentions and previous actions for a faster resolution time.
Using a tool like Sprout’s Smart Inbox, customer care teams can manage incoming messages from multiple platforms, prioritize responses, and access important customer data, all in one place.
Evaluate content for consistent messaging
Maintaining consistent messaging across all channels helps reinforce your brand identity, so anyone who comes across an ad, a social post, or a landing page understands your product.
Every channel has unique features and limitations, and each caters to a diverse audience that consumes content in varying formats. You want to keep your messaging consistent across each channel but not identical to avoid redundancy.
A good example is how Starbucks adapts its content to fit the context of its social channels when introducing the Java Mint Frappuccino. Their Instagram post comes with a short video and an even shorter copy to introduce the flavor excitingly.
Their content is much longer on Facebook because the audience reads more content. Each flavor is introduced with colorful emojis alongside images to match the flavor.
So, how do you evaluate content for consistent messaging? One way is to create a content calendar to monitor content regularly. Sprout’s content calendar includes tools that help you curate your social media calendar and collaborate with teams outside of marketing.
Extend omnichannel strategies offline
Your omnichannel strategy must extend beyond online channels for customers to have a fully immersive experience. Someone should be able to start their shopping experience online and pick up where they left off when interacting with your physical store.
Even with different channels, offline extensions allow channel integrations so customers can transition smoothly between touchpoints without losing context. By expanding your omnichannel strategies offline, you broaden your reach, tap into a larger audience, and reach customers who don’t have an active online presence.
Transform In-Store Experiences
Unlike online shopping, an in-store experience is more personal and emotional for customers. Elevate your customers’ shopping experience by combining decorative and visual elements, including the right colors, layouts, lighting, and music.
More importantly, provide great customer service. As soon as a customer walks into your store, let them easily find a company rep that can answer their questions and help them find what they’re looking for. When brands provide great service, happy customers will spread the word.
Select Channels Strategically
Truth is, you can choose to start building an omnichannel experience on all channels, but that would require a huge commitment. Surviving on every channel is almost impossible, so pick one and build from there. Dig into social analytics to identify the social channel with the highest engagement and optimize it.
Sprout’s audience listening tool can also help you research the type of content your audience is consuming, what your competitors are doing, and, most importantly, how you can do better.
Maintain consistency across the customer journey
To remain consistent, you need clear policies and values that your brand must be known for. Document this in a brand-style guide to get every team on the same page and present a unified vision of your company to the public.
Some components of your brand style guide include the mission statement, typography, color palette, and common vocabulary. Go into the tiniest details. For example, if your brand is known for sustainability, it must reflect your choice of materials or color. Also, organize training sessions to help your staff understand your style guide. Every employee must understand what the brand stands for and their role in protecting it.
Examples of successful omnichannel experiences
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of an omnichannel customer experience, let’s look at some examples of successful omnichannel experiences.
Apple’s integrated omnichannel experience
Apple’s first approach to building a great product is delivering a world-class customer experience. This includes building a seamless digital-physical experience, so customers have the same retail encounter in the US, UK, or anywhere in the world
What they do well:
- Great in-store experience with highly-trained sales specialists armed with their IPads and ready to help. Their expertise makes it easy for customers to build trust in the brand.
- Embrace an omnichannel retail strategy so customers can pre-order a new product online before it launch and reserve it for pick-up at a local store.
- Remain consistent and true to the Apple identity: clean, smooth, and techy.
- Create an immersive ecosystem so customers can easily connect their devices or switch to a new one.
Warby Parker’s unique omnichannel retail experience
Finding the right pair of frames for your glasses is a miserable experience, but Warby Parker is changing that experience for users. The company has a unique omnichannel retail experience that allows customers to shop for eyewear both online and in-store.
Customers can start personalizing their experience by browsing glasses on the website, choosing five frames, and trying on each frame at home with the Home Try-On program for five days. Their in-store experience is optimized to promote social interaction between customers while shopping.
Warby Parker also invests in virtual try-ons with augmented reality (AR) technology and vision testing technology so customers can find glasses that fit, and book prescription check-ups, and eye exams from the app.
Mbank personalized omnichannel experience
Mbak is a leading digital bank that offers a seamless and personalized omnichannel experience to its customers. Omnichannel means that customers can interact with the bank through multiple channels, such as in-person, social media, or their mobile app.
Mbank focuses on personalization. They focus on collecting customer data in one place to track their interactions across all channels. For example, they use data to understand customers’ preferences and behaviors and tailor their products accordingly.
They also constantly adopt new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, biometrics, and other emerging technologies to offer smart and secure solutions to their customers.
Here are some amazing results they’ve achieved after implementing an omnichannel experience.
Embrace the power of omnichannel to serve every customer
Ultimately, we’re designing experiences for people. It’s almost impossible to do that if we don’t understand their needs, expectations, and where they’re coming from. Designing a great omnichannel experience is all about collecting customer data and leveraging this data to build a seamless customer experience for your business.
Get started with a free Sprout Social trial to discover how we can help you develop your omnichannel experience through our comprehensive dashboard.