What is Multi-channel compared to Omni channel retailing?
Customers reach out to organizations and businesses in a variety of ways today, including text, web, mobile, social media, email, and phone. Businesses that provide customer service on all of these channels in an integrated way, rather than in silos, deliver the consistent experience consumers crave. Multi-channel retail experiences simply imply the use of multiple channels when delivering customer experience. Omni-channel experiences, especially in retail, offer seamless consistency across channels.
Omni-channel experiences are critical, as today’s customers are using mobile devices for internet access more frequently – more frequently, in fact, than they use desktop PCs. These consumers may initiate contact with an organization on one channel and later engage with the same brand through another, often utilizing multiple devices at the same time. Technology is also pushing forth new mediums extending the customer experience beyond simply devices, but also to platforms. For example, messaging applications are now quickly becoming a new channel for customer engagement and considered to be a channel separate from others.
Technology and Consumer Expectations Drive the Need for Omni-Channel Retail Solutions
Entrepreneur and Forbes contributor Drew Hendricks explains that customer service has evolved as technology has evolved. The days of people reaching for the yellow pages to contact businesses are over, as customers moved to the Internet at home and then to smartphones and tablets to reach out to businesses.
A recent study shows that 63% of U.S. adults use mobile devices at least several times per month to seek customer support, and 90% have had poor experiences seeking customer support on mobile.
These customers are defining their customer experience by how well companies handle their interactions on their website, through mobile technologies, and across the myriad channels through which they engage with brands. Getting this right, with consistent delivery and relevant content that meets customer needs and demands at the right time and on their preferred channels, is crucial for success.
Delivering an Omni-Channel Experience and the Benefits of Customer Satisfaction
Top-notch customer experiences affect the bottom line in a number of ways:
- 45% of consumers in the U.S. abandon online transactions if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly
- 89% of consumers stop doing business with companies that deliver poor customer service
- Consumers are two times more likely to share bad customer service experiences than positive experiences
- Customers are four times more likely to purchase from competitors when an issue is related to service, versus price or product-related issues
- 33% of consumers will recommend brands that provide quick, yet ineffective responses
- 17% of consumers recommend brands that provide slow but effective solutions
- 12 positive experiences are needed to make up for one negative experience
- 70% of buying experiences depend on how customers feel they are being treated
- 83% of consumers require at least some level of support while making an online purchase
That’s why thriving organizations have already shifted their focus to a customer-centric approach with mobile responsiveness being a top priority. So far, the data shows that companies using tools and strategies to improve mobile customer experience are winning. As Hendricks points out, “84% of CIOs at customer-centric companies now focus on the mobile customer experience.” In fact, businesses that have adopted a “mobile-friendly user experience, including responsive websites and location-based search engine optimization,” have gained a competitive edge.
Research also shows that consumers will spend more money with a company that provides a positive experience. It isn’t any wonder, then, that Gartner found that 89% of businesses plan to compete solely on the basis of customer experience.
Customer expectations also affect consumers’ levels of satisfaction, and leading companies have gone above and beyond FAQ pages to provide round-the-clock help with services that monitor social media and the Internet for mentions by customers and social media managers who maintain a consistent presence on social media. By responding to customers quickly and appropriately on social media, organizations often save their reputations and demonstrate a willingness to correct issues to ensure satisfaction.
Omni-channel customer service experience also helps to reduce customer churn, which Accenture found is attributed to poor quality customer service. Similarly, Bain & Co reports that a 10% increase in customer retention levels results in a 30% increase in a company’s value.
Making Multi-Channel Retailing Consistent
Companies must take care not to simply offer a multi-channel retailing experiences, though. To deliver a truly omni-channel retail experience, organizations must assume that consumers will begin an interaction in one channel and then move to another when seeking a resolution. But the focus shouldn’t be on the channels, rather on the customer.
Customers are too often segmented by channel – assuming that the company has “Twitter customers,” “Facebook customers,” and “mobile customers,” for example, when in reality companies have a single set of consumers who just happen to engage with the brand on a multitude of channels. Customers’ needs and demands remain consistent across the touchpoints from which they interact with a company.
Consumers must perceive their transitions from one channel to the next as being fluid. Best-in-class retailers are 30% more likely to optimize for omni-channel simplicity to achieve consistency and meet the needs of consumers across channels.
One of the most efficient ways to improve the customer experience is to tap into customer analytics to pinpoint consumer-preferred channels and gain insights into the effectiveness of the company’s content and knowledge base where addressing these concerns in real-time. Analytics also reveal which channels most successfully meet customer expectations, so organizations can tailor their approach for laser-targeted, consistent delivery. Leveraging technologies that reach consumers across channels and using available data to monitor and optimize the experience gives modern organizations a competitive edge.