In today's multiscreen, multitasking world, consumers are continually bouncing from one communications channel to the next, whether they are using text messaging, chat apps, email or making a phone call. And, they expect brands to keep up by providing consistent messaging and a seamless customer experience. When done right, an omnichannel retail strategy enables brands to engage and convert consumers, wherever they are, how ever they chose, and on whatever device they're using. Done wrong, it can be downright annoying.
For example, imagine you walk into a department store and a customer service rep greets you, saying, "Welcome to our store! Can I help you find anything?" You explain that you're looking to buy a winter coat, and she helps you find exactly the style, size, and color you wanted, even suggesting a few matching scarves. So far, so good.
As you're walking toward the checkout line, however, the same rep approaches you. Oh, good, you think. She must have found another scarf. Nope! She smiles at you blankly and says, "Welcome to our store! Can I help you find anything?" She clearly doesn't recognize you, which stings a little. You really thought you were more memorable than that. But you hold up the coat and tell her you're all set.
You check out and head for the door, where you're met with the same canned welcome from the same rep. Now you're kind of frustrated, right? Without the right infrastructure in place, that's essentially how brands treat omnichannel retail shoppers.
Consistency Is Key
It's not enough just to be visible via different channels. To deliver a consistent brand experience, retailers must be able to sync customer data from all channels — including in-store loyalty programs, e-commerce, mobile apps, email marketing, and social media.
When channels are siloed and disconnected, companies don't have a clear picture of who individual customers are, what they've purchased in the past, what they want now, or how they want to buy. Without the ability to see all the data at once, brand messaging on each channel is inconsistent and impersonal. In other words, it's content no one really wants.
Think about your own inbox. It's always full of marketing messages about products you'd never purchase — even from brands you've done business with in the past, brands that should know better by now what you're actually interested in buying. So it's no wonder that consumers check email with one finger hovered over the delete button, uninstall apps that annoy them with unwanted notifications, and tune out or fast-forward through commercials.
Brands that want to cut through the noise must do more than reach out: They must build relationships. And to do that, they must provide a consistent, personalized customer experience.
3 Ways Omnichannel Retail Improves the Customer Experience
Today's consumers expect a lot from brands, such as the ability to shop on any device via any channel, personalized recommendations and offers, and engaging content. However, they're also giving a lot in return both in dollars and data.
An omnichannel retail strategy improves customer service and can help drive sales by doing the following:
- Providing seamless access to inventory: Online customers might want to know what's available in their local stores. Meanwhile, in-store shoppers who don't find what they want in stock may visit a brand's mobile website or app to see what's available online. If they can't easily find what they're looking for, they'll get it somewhere else.
- Collecting more data: The more channels through which customers interact with a brand — and the better those channels are connected — the more marketers can learn about individual shoppers. Every time customers open an email, visit a company's website, download a mobile app, make an in-store purchase, or respond to a push notification, they are providing valuable behavioral data that helps brands better understand who they are, what they want, what they don't want, and how to best serve them.
- Driving more relevant content: Brands with this type of insight into their audience can customize recommendations and offers to suit individual customers, increasing the likelihood they'll buy. Just as importantly, personalized content is the best way to avoid the trash folder, where all other irrelevant emails go to die.
To deliver this type of omnichannel retail experience, retailers must be able to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) platforms in the cloud with other databases and business tools. With these types of cloud integrations, brands can connect the dots between different channels, build comprehensive customer profiles, and trigger content based on robust customer data.
Otherwise, the brand is just like the ditzy sales rep with the bad short-term memory — alienating customers, missing opportunities for relevant upsells, and generally frustrating people.
To make sure your customer experience is engaging instead of frustrating, contact a Vonage Business representative.