While many businesses focus on having multiple channels for their customer’s experience, few actually succeed in creating a seamless, integrated experience that drives their customers through the finish line.
Multi-channel vs. Omni-channel
So what is the difference? Multi-channel simply means having many different routes to achieve the same customer goals. This can be as simple as:
- A desktop website
- A mobile website
- A physical store
- A person answering phones
- A person at the checkout counter
A customer can use any of those channels to purchase or research a product. What happens when they visit the website at home to research a product and then forget what they read while they are in the store? Maybe they can’t even find the item, so they grab their phone and visit the mobile site trying to find their information. If there is a discrepancy or conflicting information, they are likely to get frustrated and abandon the purchase altogether. In a study, 89% of respondents said that they were frustrated by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. These types of issues arise as a direct result of poor channel integration and consistency.
The omni-channel side of this coin implies that the different channels are seamlessly integrated. For example, a customer can start her journey by researching a product on her phone, continue the research in-store, order online, and then pick up or return in store – all effortlessly. Connecting the channels so that customers can start an interaction on one channel, and then pick up where they left off in another, creates a more connected experience for the customer – leading them to checkout with confidence that they have made the correct purchase. This integration is often overlooked from a business perspective, but consumers end up using more than one channel to research and purchase their products. In fact, shoppers are now averaging five devices to make a purchase compared to 2.8 devices a year ago.
The Omni-channel Advantage
Consumer confidence is built by providing easy access to the answers to common questions. Maintaining consistency between the different channels that customers interact with helps build a strong brand interaction. Nearly 90% of consumers say a personalized experience impacts their purchase decision, so it’s safe to say consumers don’t just prefer that feeling of understanding, and deep brand connection-they demand quick, consistent responses across channels and devices.
What Brands Need To Do
Businesses must look behind the scenes at customers and their behavior patterns, gathering and analyzing data and insight so they can develop an effective and cohesive engagement strategy across channels. Businesses also need to understand how all the channels come together for a connected customer experience. Proactive, intelligent and integrated customer engagement across channels not only helps move the customer along the transaction process, but also provides educated upsell opportunities.
Omni-channel customer experience is essential in today’s hyper competitive market. Successful business growth depends on positive customer interactions and connected experiences, leading to higher conversion rates and loyalty.