Consumers expect brands to deliver engaging experiences for their increasingly complex needs and behaviors. With mobile as a driving force behind online and in-store purchases, creating seamless, fast, and easy transactions across channels is critical—if not daunting—necessity.
Delivering great omnichannel experiences doesn’t have to be a vast all-or-nothing undertaking. The right strategic approach allows brands to incrementally make meaningful improvements to the experience across channels, without creating programs in silos. We always say omnichannel begins with understanding the customer journey, but bringing together the people, process, and technology to make omnichannel work takes focus and finesse.
There’s a reason almost every engagement at Copious begins with a design thinking workshop, and sometimes a site usability audit, too: it is crucial that businesses share one holistic vision of their customer journeys. Workshops, surveys, and audit analytics uncover holes and opportunities in customer interactions across channels.
Visualizing the customer journey and anticipating customer expectations can help brands imagine the ideal scenario. With time and costs often hindering omnichannel initiatives, an agreed-upon “ideal state” experience gives everyone an end goal to play towards to as they incrementally improve different touchpoints.
Considering who customers are and what their behaviors are helps uncover areas of unmet expectations. The more complex and considered the customer cycle—from finding and researching to buying and using—the greater the need for information across channels.
Brands that don’t sell directly to consumers, for example, should have deep knowledge of the interactions retail partners have with their customers. Facilitating access to information for both retail partner associates and customers is key, whether through in-store kiosks, brand websites or leveraging digital to support in-store experiences. With digital influencing over 50% of in-store purchases, empowering sales associates can mean better experiences for customers—and better results for retail brands.
Customers also expect education on the products they purchase from the brands they buy. The post-purchase customer experience opens opportunities for education, repair, warranty, maintenance and other detailed information to enrich the direct relationships between customers and brands.
THE TECHNOLOGY COMPONENT
Legacy systems tend to slow down omnichannel efforts. We always look at ways to support the customer experience with what’s there, instead of fighting against it or holding out for better conditions. As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to deliver on some portion of the “ideal experience” we mentioned earlier than none at all. The key is to know the limits of existing systems to avoid blowing out resources.
Recognizing potential workarounds that could support better experiences in the short-term are often a great way to ease gradually into omnichannel.
For instance, automating processes may seem like the ideal solution to expediting transactions across channels. However, we still encourage our client partners to consider the customer first: if automation isn’t helpful to the customer, human engagement is the best option. Having empathy and knowledge from real humans in the experience—from the brand or retail sales associates—is more valuable than over-automation.
Ultimately, the first step for omnichannel experiences remains clear: detailed knowledge of customer needs and behaviors is critical. A shared ideal can provide brands a roadmap to iteratively developing great customer experiences across channels over time.