Consumers don’t just touch and try products before they make a purchase. They learn about products from many platforms, including Google searches, social media, videos, mobile apps, company websites, and in-store experiences. Creating an omnichannel customer experience benefits businesses. Customers who engage through multiple channels with a business reportedly spend more.
Let’s take a look at what goes into creating an omnichannel customer experience and how it can help you boost sales and increase customer retention.
Defining omnichannel customer experience
Businesses that create omnichannel customer experiences treat customer interactions in multiple channels (e.g. social media, smartphone, chatbots) as part of one unified customer journey. They employ a multi-channel approach to connect sales, marketing, and customer service platforms. To put it simply, the omnichannel approach enables customers to begin their experience with your brand in one channel and continue it on another channel seamlessly.
Kinsta reports the following channels are commonly used by U.S. entrepreneurs to sell products and services:
- Brick-and-mortar shop (56%)
- Social media (40% Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but Facebook alone is 25%)
- Website (34%)
- Pop-up shops, markets, and events (26%)
- Amazon (16%)
- Others (22%; includes Etsy, Alibaba, eBay)
Multichannel vs Omnichannel Experience
Most businesses use multiple channels in their sales process. However, having multiple channels does not automatically equate to an omnichannel experience.
A multichannel retailer may have a website, social media account, and brick and mortar store. These different channels are siloed or isolated from each other. They have little to no connection.
For example, a shopper may visit your website and browse products that they want to buy. Then, the shopper visits your physical store to buy the product in person. Unfortunately, the staff can’t find the product so they contact customer service, only to find out that the product is not available in-store. The customer leaves your shop without making a purchase.
In contrast, an omnichannel approach aligns multiple channels to offer streamlined customer support and shopping experiences.
For example, a potential buyer may use an app to browse your products. They might interact with social media posts to get more information about specific products or tag their friends in things they like. Once they visit the store, an employee can assist them with an iPad and entertain their questions about the product. Instead of lining up, they can pay through their mobile phones or ask help from an in-store assistant.
Omnichannel customer experiences are also valuable assets in customer support. Once a customer calls, your support staff can find a real-time record of their past interactions through whichever digital channel they used. No need to ask questions about their past issues with the service.
Ultimately, this makes the buyer journey a lot easier for both staff and shoppers. Not only does it boost the efficiency of customer service agents but it also improves customer retention and brand loyalty.
Customers are more likely to become brand advocates when placing orders is simple, customer service is easily accessible and efficient, and they experience a personalized shopping experience.
Omnichannel Customer Experience vs. Omnichannel Marketing
It’s also noteworthy to mention that omnichannel marketing is different from an omnichannel customer experience.
Omnichannel marketing involves sending messages to customers through digital and traditional marketing channels that connect with each other.
For example, a customer may receive promotional SMS offers while shopping in-store. If they abandon a product online, they may receive abandoned cart emails and retargeting ads on Facebook.
An omnichannel experience, on the other hand, involves a multi-channel approach to sales, customer support, and marketing. It requires providing a cohesive customer experience no matter which channel customers use to interact with your brand.
Companies creating an omnichannel experience must align their marketing goals, objectives, messaging, and design across various channels. By connecting these factors, a business can improve its marketing, customer support, and user experience.
Why the omnichannel customer experience works for businesses
An omnichannel strategy can significantly impact convenience and conversions.
According to ClickZ, shoppers who used three or more channels to interact with brands had a purchasing frequency rate that was 250% higher than single-channel users. Customers who used three or more channels also had an AOV (average order value) which was 13% more than those that did not.
Harvard Business Review reports that customers who used more channels were more valuable. They spent an average of 4% more in physical stores and 10% more than online single-channel customers.
These numbers prove that shoppers that interacted through multiple channels were likely to purchase more and make more purchases over time.
Tips for building an omnichannel customer experience
Wondering how to get started? Here are some tips you can use to integrate multiple channels.
Map the customer journey
Segment customers by determining where their buyer journey begins and all the touchpoints that lead to purchase.
By identifying stages of cart abandonment, businesses can modify the customer journey and shopping experience in different channels to increase sales and improve convenience.
Use the right technology
Seamless user experiences are impossible without the right technology.
Support agents should be able to contact customers through live chat or mobile apps depending on their preferred method of communication. Websites should also personalize product recommendations to encourage customers to make repeat purchases.
Consider software that includes sales and service tools like live chat, video and voice calls, and chatbots.
Identify the stakeholders
Implementing an omnichannel experience does not happen overnight. You’ll need to work closely with the departments that play a role in the buyer's journey, such as your sales, marketing, customer service, and product teams.
Teach teams to provide customer support through different channels. The earlier you plan, the easier it’ll be to make changes and identify potential issues in the process.
A good tip is to start small and then modify the customer journey in more platforms. You can align experiences in your main channels first, then expand these experiences across multiple supporting platforms.
Listen to feedback
Feedback from customers can drastically improve the buyer journey. So, collect reviews and ask your customers to rate their experiences.
You can send surveys through email or mobile apps. You can also generate a popup that lets customers rate their experience and give comments and suggestions.
Examples of omnichannel retailing
Need some inspiration? Let’s take a look at a few top brands that have successfully integrated different digital channels.
Starbucks offers a premium user experience.
Customers are rewarded with a free drink after they sign up for a customer loyalty program. When they make a purchase through the Starbucks card, they can reload through the app, website, in-store or by a mobile device—and their total rewards points are updated across all platforms.
Coffee enthusiasts can also make mobile orders, gift digital Starbucks cards, find stores near their location and tip their baristas without going out of their way.
Neiman Marcus is a fashion brand that uses technology to connect online and offline platforms.
The Neiman Marcus app connects shoppers to sales associates through text messages, calls, emails, or FaceTime. Shoppers can also use it to check their points and view upcoming events or promotions.
The website delivers personalized product recommendations and remembers size preferences, too. One major differentiator between Neiman Marcus and other online stores? You can use geolocation to find items stocked in nearby stores. New arrivals that suit customers’ preferences are sent through email and direct mail.
“Memory Mirror" is another distinct omnichannel feature. Have you ever wondered how your outfit looked from behind or from the side? The Memory Mirror can record and capture your try-ons from every angle. Hesitant shoppers who need a second opinion can also seek advice on their looks by sharing the outfits with their network.
Omnichannel customer experiences are the future of sales.
Customers want a fast and hassle-free way to order and purchase products. Buying a product should be a seamless experience, whichever channel a customer uses, so map your customer journey and streamline the sales process. How do you plan to leverage omnichannel retailing? Let us know in the comments below, and take a look at our ebooks and whitepapers for more help with all things customer service, sales, and support.