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The Importance of an Omni-Channel Customer Experience

Quick! How many internet-capable devices are there within 6 feet of you? I’d guess there’s more than one.

As technology advances, it becomes embedded in our culture in different ways. For example, 5 years ago, you wouldn’t ever think to go shopping on your watch. As such, it’s becoming increasingly important to invest in an omni-channel customer experience.

Especially in ecommerce marketing, where a customer may search, peruse, and research in 4 different places and finally make the decision to buy in a totally different place, it’s important to have a holistic approach to your marketing.

The Future of the Omni-Channel Customer Experience

So what exactly is an omni-channel customer experience? According to TechTarget, “...a multi-channel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store.”

However, it’s important to distinguish between a multi-channel customer experience and an omni-channel customer experience. If you’ve got solid social strategy, a high converting website, and a great mobile experience, you’ve got a multi-channel experience. But if they aren’t working together, in coordination, it’s not an omni-channel customer experience.

According to HubSpot, “All omni-channel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multi-channel experiences are omni-channel.”

Omni-channel customer experience

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If you’re wondering how important establishing an omni-channel customer experience is, know this: it’s important. Take a look at some stats from a recent study in to the traits of omni-channel campaigns:

  • 20% of consumers have used their phone to find or redeem coupons and/or lookup product information while in a physical store.

  • Personalized mobile promotions increase sales: the consumer is more likely to make an in-store purchase if they can access rewards or promotions via their mobile. A significant portion of consumers are interested in accessing such resources on a digital wallet.

  • 52% of retailers are monitoring social media. 42% are adding SKUs 36% are enhancing eCommerce sites, or are currently implementing these initiatives.

  • Retailers are farther behind on improving inventory visibility. To these end, about one-third have identified equipping in-store employees with mobile apps to access inventory + other initiatives to provide cross-channel inventory visibility, among their top 3 omni-channel priorities.

Workforce customer service solution provider Aspect also sums up the need for omni-channel marketing based on their own experiences quite well:

Customers now expect to receive service from your organization on the channel of their choice, which might be voice, email, SMS/text, web, mobile or social media. Companies are beginning to provide service on all of these channels – but too often, those channels may exist in silos. This multi-channel service can be taken to the next level with an omni-channel solution that integrates channels to provide a consistent customer experience

The Evolving Role of Customer Service

An omni-channel is especially important for customer service, which is constantly evolving as technology develops. New technologies like Twitter, Live Chat, and video live chat have made real time marketing a necessity for those providing customer support.

In fact, one of the easiest ways to create an omni-channel customer experience is to invest in these real time marketing channels. An Eptica study outlined the growth of Twitter for customer service. It’s not surprising to me, but it is fascinating how the domain of customer support is changing:

Twitter Growth

It’s important to cater to potential customers, wherever they are, lest you lose them to a competitor.

If there’s any quote that will persuade you to invest in an omni-channel customer experience, it’s this highly accurate quote from Eptica:

“Frustrated consumers will either move to competitors that offer more channels – or will switch to more expensive channels such as the phone or face-to-face, pushing up costs for organizations.”

So as long as you’re convinced of the need, how can you put it into practice? Where do you start?

Start With Business Objectives

Before you invest in a bunch of different technological solutions providing real time marketing, marketing automation, personalization, social listening, etc, etc, think about your business goals. If it doesn’t fit the objectives, it’s simply a shiny toy creating noise.

Here’s how TechTarget put it:

At the same time, companies can easily focus too much on technology rather than on existing gaps in serving customer needs. When companies rush headlong into buying technology, they fail to address the key organizational questions and issues that are often the foundation of poor customer service and customer experience.

Examples of Good Omni-Channel Customer Experience

It’s easy to talk about the theory and the need for omni-channel customer experience (and you do need to start thinking about it), but offering examples of companies crushing it is the best way to inspire your own strategy. Here are a few of my favorites.

Chubbies

Chubbies is awesome at marketing. From their copywriting, to their photos, social media, and more, they are absolutely delightful and spot-on with their messaging to their target audience. Not only that, but they are consistent. First off, their website is awesome and easy to navigate. Their brand personality permeates every element of the site:

Chubbies Homepage

Each of their marketing touch points integrates the same branding but in a unique way. For example, their social media channels are heavily populated by user-generated content, such as this:

user generated content

They also play into relevant cultural memes that are understood by their target audience. Again, much of this is submitted by the users, making it a great use of real time marketing:

 User generated content

They also came out with an app recently. I enjoy navigating around on the app when I’m waiting in lines or something, and it’s much easier to navigate than a mobile site, even if responsive. They also send exclusive deals via push notifications.

This is a great example of mobile ecommerce marketing. I think we’ll be seeing more ecommerce mobile apps, actually usable ones, in the future:

 Mobile ecommerce marketing

Oh, and something that’s often forgotten in our short-term micro-conversion focused world: physical packaging. Chubbies is the master of it. You’ll often get coupons for free gifts with your next order. Something they throw in free gifts like koozies or tank tops.

Chubbies shipping packaging

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Overall, Chubbies’ blends real time marketing with a bold and in-your-face brand personality across multiple touch points. They’re a shining example of ecommerce marketing done right.

JP Morgan Chase

I’ve been really happy with Chase banking. First, I can do pretty much everything on my phone. For anything I don’t want to do on my phone though (not much), their website is fantastic and is laid out intuitively. One of my favorite features of the app is using location awareness to find ATMs and branches near me. Super convenient:

JP Morgan Chase Mobile App

If you’ve got questions, the fastest way might be to hit them up on social media on their support handle. You’ll get instant and friendly answers. This is solid real time marketing:

customer support tweet

Finally, and importantly, their physical locations provide awesome service. I’ve got a personal representative who I can get ahold of any time to answer questions or help me with any frustrations. Every touchpoint is integrative and feeds into the overall customer experience.

Conclusion

Even if you have a multi-channel experience, you might not have an omni-channel customer experience. Just because you’re on Twitter, have a call center and a great website, doesn’t mean they’re tied together.

That’s where the magic is: the synergy. Each of your ecommerce marketing channels should complement the next, creating a holistic experience.

There’s no one way to do this. Your customers may expect different things than the next company.

For example, Chubbies’ experience is much different than Chase’s, but they both offer a delightful omni-channel experience. Chubbies’ does so with consistent branding, real time support, exclusive push notification discounts, and referral/retention targeted packaging.

Chase makes it easy to deposit checks, track spending, and send money - whether you’re doing so from their mobile site, app, website, or even in the archaic physical locations (still highly helpful).

Meet your customers where they want to be met, and you’ll see conversion grow and brand loyalty stay.

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