What is Omnichannel Customer Experience & Why You Should Invest In It
Customers nowadays expect omnichannel customer experience when they deal with a business.
That is why companies use in-product communication, email newsletters, support calls, live chats, and social media channels to ensure that customers get a seamless experience.
In this guide, we’re going to go over why the omnichannel customer experience is important and how you can build a consistent brand experience across multiple channels to keep customer satisfaction levels as high as possible!
- Creating an omnichannel experience comes down to ensuring consistency and integration across all channels that customers use to engage with your business.
- A consistent omnichannel customer experience can improve satisfaction, build loyalty, drive acquisition, increase retention, boost LTV, and help you make data-driven decisions.
- Building an omnichannel experience requires a combination of data collection, channel selection, journey mapping, data centralization, and obtaining the right tools for the job.
- Segmentation and split-testing are two best practices that can help you improve the omnichannel experience for your customers.
- Self-support resources, speedy response times, and online communities are all worthwhile approaches to nurturing loyalty amongst your users.
- Always be on the lookout for gaps in the omnichannel experience and areas that need improvement.
What is omnichannel customer experience?
The omnichannel customer experience is comprised of various channels that customers interact with a business through.
The omnichannel approach dictates that these different digital channels should all connect seamlessly and integrate with one another to ensure consistent messaging while catering to customer needs.
Why is omnichannel customer experience important?
Much like how physical stores need to provide a consistent experience to everyone who walks in, so do businesses that sell their product online and have customer interactions coming through multiple platforms.
Here are a few key reasons why you should aim to create a frictionless experience across all channels:
- Improve satisfaction. Whether you’re operating through traditional channels or digital channels, the omnichannel experience makes customer journeys a lot more streamlined which improves customer satisfaction scores.
- Build loyalty. Omnichannel customer engagement is a highly effective way to build loyalty as it ensures that your business sets a great example on one channel and then upholds the brand image your customers expect when interacting through another channel.
- User acquisition. Optimizing the omnichannel customer experience increases the odds of each touchpoint leading to a conversion. If even one channel becomes better at driving users towards your sales funnel, you’ll be able to improve your customer acquisition significantly.
- Higher retention. While a multi-channel experience could be sufficient to drive acquisition, an omnichannel customer experience has the added bonus of increasing retention as the quality of customer care always remains consistent across all platforms.
- Increases LTV. Because the omnichannel experience will encourage customers to stick around longer, this has the knock-on effect of increasing customer lifetime value (LTV) or even generating expansion revenue.
- Data-driven decisions. Due to the necessity of data analytics when optimizing the omnichannel customer experience, you’ll have more metrics to work with. These insights can help you with other efforts, such as personalized retention marketing or customer segmentation.
Omnichannel vs multichannel customer experience
While omnichannel and multichannel customer experiences are often used interchangeably, there’s actually a nuanced (but sizable) difference between the two strategies.
- Multichannel: Channels operate independently of each other, focusing on increasing the number of available channels.
- Omnichannel: All channels are integrated and work cohesively together to provide a seamless customer experience.
- Multichannel: Customers can choose their preferred channel for engagement but may need to start over when switching between channels.
- Omnichannel: Customers can switch between channels while retaining their shared information and previous conversations, ensuring seamless continuity.
- Multichannel: Limited integration leads to little-to-no data sharing across channels, resulting in customers having to repeat information.
- Omnichannel: Channels are integrated, allowing for easy data sharing and synchronization across all channels, providing a seamless experience.
- Multichannel: Due to inconsistencies and redundancies across channels, the customer experience may feel fragmented or cumbersome.
- Omnichannel: With a cohesive and integrated approach, the customer receives a personalized and contextual experience tailored to their data and needs.
In summary, multichannel customer experience offers interaction across various channels but lacks integration and seamless continuity.
On the other hand, omnichannel customer experience prioritizes integrated channels, seamless data-sharing, and personalized experiences for a more cohesive and satisfying customer journey.
How to build a successful omnichannel customer experience?
Now that you know what the omnichannel customer experience is, why it’s important, and how it differs from multichannel approaches, it’s time to learn how to create an effective omnichannel strategy that can provide a seamless customer journey!
Collect customer data to define your user personas
If you want to delight customers across all channels then you first need to figure out which user personas your business is most likely to deal with. Surveying existing customers is a reliable way of gauging customer expectations.
Your current customers can offer you insights into which pain points they’re struggling with or goals they are working towards.
In essence, they’ll give you a deeper understanding of what they expect from your product or service (so you can take proactive steps to meet those expectations).
Once you figure out what customers care about, you can use these insights to create user personas that cover everything from the challenges they’re facing, what size of company they work for, and their specific job-to-be-done (JTBD).
Here’s a free user persona template that you can use to get started:
Decide on your digital channels
Like most sales associates will tell you, not all channels are made equally. For instance, you’d generally have better chances of closing a deal through a Zoom meeting than DMs through social media platforms while, conversely, social media could be a crucial part of the customer journey for those shopping online.
To avoid any guesswork or flawed assumptions, it’s best to take an empirical approach when selecting digital channels. Collect data that tells you where customers came from and then use those channels to maintain the relationships you’ve already built while acquiring new users in the process.
Map the customer journey
Customer journey mapping is essential to ensure that the members of your marketing and growth teams are able to address customer needs throughout every stage.
Marketing teams generally focus on the first two stages: letting prospects know that the product exists and then turning them into customers through acquisition efforts. On the other hand, growth teams usually work throughout the journey.
From the moment a prospect learns about a product to the point where loyal customers become brand advocates, growth teams are there to find ways to improve the process.
In the same way, you can map the omnichannel customer journey to identify sources of user friction and figure out what to improve upon:
Listen to customer feedback
Collecting customer feedback across different channels will help you identify opportunities to improve the customer experience (either on just one channel or every channel at once).
There are a few best practices you should follow when using surveys to collect customer feedback, such as:
- Keeping things short through microsurveys.
- Having dedicated surveys for key metrics like CSAT, CES, and NPS.
- Collecting both quantitative and qualitative customer insights.
- Using contextual triggers so surveys appear at the most relevant times.
- Adding progress bars to surveys to increase response rates.
- Leveraging multimedia such as micro-videos in your surveys.
- Split-testing different survey iterations to optimize response rates.
- Following up on insightful customer feedback through email or interviews.
The more insights you gather, the easier it is to increase the amount of value your product provides (which eventually leads to higher customer lifetime value). Of course, collecting data is only one half of the equation. You also need to store customer data in an effective and accessible manner.
Centralize customer data
Centralizing customer data is the best way to ensure security, accessibility, and the free flow of information across all departments within your organization. Failing to centralize customer data could lead to the creation of data silos which bring drawbacks like:
- Hindering cross-department collaboration.
- Inconsistent data reporting.
- Miscommunications (both internal and external).
- Data security or compliance risks.
Using customer relationship management (CRM) software to centralize your customer data is a worthwhile investment since it will prevent the formation of data silos and streamline the process of ensuring everyone has access to the information they need.
It’s important to realize that you won’t be able to build an omnichannel customer experience overnight. It takes weeks, months, or even years of constant effort. You’ll need to collaborate with multiple departments within your company.
Sales, marketing, support, and product teams all play a role in creating the optimal omnichannel customer experience. Cohesive customer journeys can only be created when there’s an equivalent level of cohesion within the company and the teams responsible for executing every step.
If building an omnichannel customer experience feels like a Herculean task and you don’t know where to start, then one life hack would be to narrow your initial coverage area. Begin by aligning customer experiences across your main channels that most users interact with.
Once these key channels have been optimized, you can expand the omnichannel customer experience to other platforms your company (and its customers) use to communicate. Splitting this process into two or more phases also helps you apply lessons you’ve learned to the next round of optimizations.
Use the right tools for an omnichannel approach
When building an omnichannel customer experience, software is always necessary but never sufficient. You need both the right tools for the job and team members who are able to utilize those tools to their full potential.
For instance, the Userpilot-HubSpot integration can help you share data between platforms, collect feedback from various segments, and score leads based on user activity.
You can also use Userpilot webhooks to provide better omnichannel support to your users.
Here’s a quick look at the tools and platforms that Userpilot has integrations for:
Best practices to improve omnichannel experience
Building a robust omnichannel experience is a celebration-worthy milestone but your job isn’t done yet. The next step is to improve the omnichannel experience and optimize every moving part to maximize your KPIs.
Applying these best practices can lead to better customer retention, satisfaction, and conversion rates!
Collect customer data with welcome surveys to understand customer interaction with your tool
The earlier you collect customer data, the sooner you’ll be able to begin the user segmentation process. By kicking things off with a welcome survey, you’ll make it possible to personalize the customer journey from the get-go.
Omnichannel models aren’t just about offering the same experience everywhere but also using different strategies for each type of interaction that users could have with your product. If you have different user personas who rely on your product to solve different pain points, you should properly segment them.
Once you get your bearings on their use case and which features are most valuable to them, it will be easier to tailor the in-app navigation to their specific needs. Miro is a stellar example of welcome surveys done right:
Create a consistent omnichannel strategy across multiple channels
You need to ensure that experiences are consistent across all channels.
A few examples would be to ensure that:
- In-app onboarding is consistent with onboarding emails.
- In-app NPS surveys are consistent with follow-up NPS emails.
- Promotional emails are consistent with the information on your pricing pages.
You never want customers to feel like you’re trying to pull a bait-on-switch or hoping to lure them in on false pretenses. Furthermore, inconsistent messaging could also give new users the wrong expectations and thus make it hard to retain them in the long run.
A/B test different in-app messages
A/B testing is the most reliable way to see which in-app messages get the most engagement. Once you’ve found your winner, ensure you’re using the same language across different channels to optimize engagement and consistency.
Even the best industry leaders rarely get it perfect the first time. Most successes come from compounding small wins and improving upon the best-performing iterations.
Streamline response time to avoid individual channels getting bombarded with tickets
The quicker you’re able to respond to customer messages, the faster their support tickets will be resolved. Response time is an absolute must, as failing to get back to inquiries in a timely manner can lead to long support queues and dissatisfied customers.
Research from Aircall shows that 96% of customers expect a response within five minutes of initiating a chat conversation. It’s an even smaller window in the online shopping space where half of all customers would leave the website if their inquiry wasn’t read within one minute.
Of course, the necessary response time could vary from one channel to another. Generally speaking, customers are willing to wait a few hours to get a response on their email ticket while they aren’t likely to stick around for more than a few minutes if they’re reaching out through live chat or phone calls.
Create an online community for a cohesive customer experience
Building an online community is one of the best ways to bolster customer loyalty. Having an organic community of fans, followers, and customers is a huge competitive edge since building it costs a fraction of what you’d spend to get the same reach or engagement through traditional marketing channels.
We practice what we preach at Userpilot which is why we have a tight-knit and constantly growing Product Marketing Facebook group. Whether you’re a SaaS founder, product manager, marketer, or customer success representative there’s no shortage of insightful discussions — so feel free to join in!
Identify gaps in customer experience to improve your omnichannel strategy
Looking through your analytics is one of the most objective ways to identify how users interact with your product. Instead of relying on your original vision for how people would use the product, it’s always best practice to let the data speak for itself and then find areas that need improvement.
Don’t hesitate to adjust your strategy or even pivot your business model when necessary. Spotting gaps in the customer experience is a necessary part of fine-tuning your omnichannel strategy and preventing any funnel leaks from occurring.
Develop self-service portals for a seamless customer experience
Last but not least, a large part of customer care is giving customers the means to solve their own problems. Remember, 81% of all customers try to resolve problems themselves before reaching out to a live representative, so you should make sure they have the resources they need to do just that.
The benefits of creating self-service portals go both ways since you’ll have higher customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing support ticket volume (which gives your agents more time to focus on complex cases that actually need their assistance).
Examples of successful omnichannel strategies
Before we wrap this guide up, let’s take a look at four examples of successful omnichannel strategies:
Amazon has always been at the cutting edge of leveraging customer data to better engage its audience across all platforms. Personalized recommendations, targeted promotions, and re-ordering are just a few frequent tactics out of the Amazon playbook.
Whether you’re engaging through Amazon’s main website or browsing through sub-brands like Kindle, Audible, and Goodreads you’ll notice that the experience is always consistent (not to mention extremely interconnected).
Bank of America
Bank of America’s omnichannel strategy revolves around empowering customers to carry out tasks with the same ease regardless of which channel they’re using. The bank’s mobile capabilities ensure that depositing a check or paying bills is just as easy on a mobile device as on the website or in-store tablets.
This provides a consistent level of service quality and convenience to all 57 million digital users.
From bank account to fashion retailer, let’s hop across the pond to see how Topshop has been bridging the online-offline divide. The marketers at Topshop always ensure that their digital marketing efforts tie into their offline advertising and vice-versa.
One example is how they used a digital billboard to drive more followers toward their Twitter account:
Another case study is how they expanded their presence in the Australian market through e-commerce.
Any Apple fan will tell you that the in-store experience is consistent with ordering a new iPhone online. All the same slogans, specs, and colors are used to make the purchase feel equally special whether you’re ordering through the website or walking to the nearest Apple Store.
Beyond consistency, Apple also ties both channels by letting customers pre-order products online and pick them up at a nearby store once it officially launches. The Apple Trade-In program is yet another example of how their digital channels drive more foot traffic toward Apple Stores:
Improving the omnichannel customer experience can feel like a daunting undertaking since there are so many touchpoints and moving parts to consider. That said, taking a data-driven approach and listening to your customers’ needs can make the entire process a lot more straightforward.
If you’re ready to start improving customer loyalty and satisfaction through omnichannel customer experiences, then it’s time to get your free Userpilot demo!