In my latest article on customer centricity, I delved into why many customer experience strategies fail to make customers happy. Even big companies often struggle to satisfy their customers. I identified seven major reasons why companies fall short on CX, one of which is the misguided emphasis on omnichannel CX.
Lots of brands tout omnichannel service as the holy grail of customer interaction. Some use the term "omnichannel" interchangeably with "multichannel." But just because a brand answers questions on Instagram and Twitter while also picking up the phone doesn't make them truly omnichannel.
To me, omnichannel means the entirety of a customer's relationship with a brand. It encompasses not just customer service processes but also marketing, sales, and any other interaction a customer has with a brand. An omnichannel approach allows a brand to engage with customers in various ways, with the goal of building a lifetime of interactions. Ultimately, this is really about creating a stronger focus on customer lifetime value (CLV).
There are many ways to define CLV, but here is an excellent example from Shopify. If I always use the same coffee bar to pick up a coffee on my way into the office, then my CLV is enormous for that particular cafe. Each day that cafe can count on income from regular customers - it's easy to see how that can also be seen as valuable future income for the business.
Interacting effectively with customers is about much more than just the channel that is used. The customer journey is no longer a linear, step-by-step process where customers only contact a brand after purchase because they have a problem. Customer interactions no longer need to be transactional - they can just reinforce the relationship. #ScandicHotels promises their customers, 'we will be your friend in town.' That is saying directly that the brand wants to help - not just take your money in return for a boring hotel room. The #Ving travel group recently undertook research to understand the dreams of their customers. They didn't ask a consulting firm to design how to sell more vacations - they said we need to understand the type of travel our customers dream about.
Executives designing how a brand interacts with the customer need to think of the context, the place, the time, the customer requirement, the task, and the support process. A customer inside an airport facing a missed connection because of late arrival is entirely different from a customer sharing a selfie on Instagram and tagging their favorite brand.
Customers may be looking for a deal, making a purchase, needing help with a problem, or just looking to interact with a brand they love. Interacting well with customers in all these situations is what I would call true omnichannel CX. Can the customer get what they need when they need it?
Are you offering options and allowing the customer to pull the correct information from your channels rather than just pushing it at them randomly? When I'm in a supermarket, I may need immediate help because I can't get a pick up locker open. I might need help inside a few minutes because I asked about their opening hours on a social channel. I might be able to wait an hour or more if I just asked for some recipe advice. All these interaction types need to be handled competently so the customer feels that the brand listens.
I'm a regular shopper at #ICA supermarkets. They recently sent me a video that was created just for me. They used their insight into the products I buy to make a 30-second video that was like a reality TV show and featured information such as how many kilos of fruit I bought in 2022. It was incredible. This video was made just for me and used my shopping history to create advice and insight. It has been possible to do this for a long time now - #BritishAirways made videos featuring planes taxiing to customers' front door using street view information from Google back in 2012. That's a personalized video from over a decade ago.
This is my point. Building a customer experience strategy is about more than just how quickly the contact center can answer calls. It requires brands to consider every possible interaction between the customer and the brand and how positive interactions can be curated.
When building an omnichannel CX strategy, the executive team needs to ask, 'how do we want the customer to feel about our brand?'
Look at the airline #SAS. They recently committed to buying more Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) - they are approaching corporate clients and asking if the client wants to only use SAF on all their flights. Companies like Danish logistics giant DSV have already agreed to only use SAF for all their SAS flights.
Building a true omnichannel experience means the customer can always get what they need when needed. They can get immediate help when they have a problem that can't wait, but they can also interact with brands they love.
Conversational Artificial Intelligence has exploded in popularity in 2023 with new tools such as ChatGPT from OpenAI. I fully expect to see popular brands creating more conversational interfaces soon. Instead of just sharing a photo of your #Nike sneakers after a great run and tagging Nike in the photo, why not also have a conversation with Nike about the run and your current training plan?
This is what omnichannel is all about. Interacting with the customer in the right way at the right time across a lifetime of engagement
Jonas Berggren joined Transcom in 2020 as Head Of Business Development Northern Europe. Prior to this, Jonas was the co-founder and partner of Feedback Lab by Differ. Earlier in his career, Jonas held the position of CEO at Teleperformance Nordic.