What does omnichannel mean for you, and for your business?

If you’re grappling with omnichannel, it’s likely that you’ll be trying to:

  • reduce effort for your customers
  • deliver an excellent customer experience
  • use customer data intuitively and with respect
  • make your organisation more agile and more efficient
  • improve the employee experience and value proposition
  • build internal consensus and negotiate a mandate for change

While some see omnichannel as a completely new way of working, others perceive it more as a way of improving the effectiveness and speed of what they already do. While omnichannel can offer opportunities for customers to purchase more, it can also be understood as a service issue. And while some view omnichannel as the ultimate way to personalise the customer journey, others understand it as refining the classic customer segmentation approach to marketing.

All these perspectives are important, because responding to the challenges of omnichannel requires fundamental changes across an organisation. Realising this change needs a mandate with sufficient scope and leadership commitment to achieve the cross-functional consensus that will deliver sustainable change.
But where do you start?

Reducing Effort

If omnichannel CX forces organisations to think differently, a good way to begin the journey is by reducing effort.

In an omnichannel environment, convenience is the new loyalty. Delivering excellent customer experience requires organisations to tackle persistent issues regarding silos, knowledge management, cross-functional collaboration, and employee experience. By adopting an ‘outside in’ perspective and asking ‘how can we reduce the effort our customers need to make?’, we can begin realigning our internal processes and structures to deliver more seamless, intelligent and continuous experiences.

But we shouldn’t stop at customers. The question of ‘how do we replicate the start-up mentality in our organisation once a mandate for change has been agreed?’ is also of fundamental importance. It is only by reducing effort for employees and partners, and incorporating their needs and experiences into decision-making, that we can develop truly dynamic collaboration. And effective collaboration is key to delivering the agile response that omnichannel CX demands.

So what does a business need to do to succeed in an omnichannel environment?

Achieving Omnichannel Success

As ever, the answer lies in finding the right combination of people and data. This is easy to achieve in a start-up because there are almost no internal walls, meaning that knowledge-sharing happens fluidly. But for large organisations, omnichannel CX requires us to think more holistically about how we coordinate people and how we use data.

The following points should guide your thinking around omnichannel:

Above all, treat customer data with respect – because If customers trust us they will happily share more data. Acquiring accurate data is critical to correctly interpreting customers’ intent, and this is the cornerstone of an intelligent omnichannel experience. It is imperative that both our customers and our internal audience can see how data is being used intelligently and responsibly.
Identify your motivation for developing an omnichannel strategy before you embark on the journey. This might be reducing effort, delivering cost saving or achieving market share, but it should never be simply ‘me too’.

Build an authentic proposition that all employees and partners can buy into. This requires the creation of a working environment that values everyone’s needs and experiences. An authentic environment encourages more informal communication and thinking, as employees feel able to incorporate a greater degree of emotion and intuition into their work.

Consider the people who will be at the core of delivering your omnichannel experience  – in particular, contact centre agents, team leaders and partners. The success of your omnichannel strategy is wholly dependent on these people and their needs and experiences must be taken into account. Developing more dynamic relationships with your partners also helps you get closer to your customers.

Consider carefully what you should be outsourcing and what you should be ‘in-sourcing’. While outsourcing can initially lower costs, it can also create additional barriers and silos  that further hinder attempts to manage knowledge, effort and talent effectively.

These are precisely the issues with which we were grappling while developing Perpetual Experience, a methodology that is purposefully designed to help you ask the right questions for your specific context.

Taking the Next Step

If you’re focusing on acquiring accurate data and on reducing effort for customers and employees, you’ll already be well placed to meet the demands of the omnichannel environment. Omnichannel CX offers significant opportunities for businesses to improve not only customer experience, but also employee engagement, innovation and agility. And who wouldn’t like to be a little more agile?

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