How to craft an omnichannel customer experience that meets customer needs

Start with Your Customers to Craft Your Contact Center’s Omnichannel Customer Experience and Create Long-Lasting Brand Loyalty to Beat the Competition

Why do you go back to certain brands over and over again? Sometimes, it’s not about product or price. I could easily purchase my dog’s food from a large retailer like Amazon. It’s a common food brand and it may come a few dollars cheaper than a pet store retailer. But I don’t. Instead, I consistently choose to use the service Chewy for my dog’s food and toys.

Why? Chewy has incredible customer service. They send handwritten Christmas cards to loyal customers. And, they’re known to send flowers and bereavement notes to customers who have recently lost a pet. These endeavors alone cost the company almost a million dollars in postage each year.

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But, in addition to their compassionate mail, Chewy is punctual. They send me consistent messaging across platforms to keep me updated about my order. They have 24/7 service through multiple channels. Their app is effortless, with everything I need in it and a memory of past orders.

Ultimately, I’m loyal to this pet store retailer because they make my experience easy. It takes so little for me to restock my dog’s food. Why wouldn’t I keep coming back?

When Customer Delight Isn’t Quite Enough to Drive Loyalty

Many companies still consider customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) the barometer for customer service success. Gartner found, however, that a strong CSAT score isn’t the only predictor of customer loyalty.

They surveyed hundreds of companies and almost 100,000 customers. They learned that 20% of customers who were satisfied with a service were also intending to purchase from another company. 

Customer satisfaction doesn’t equate to customer loyalty. You could have a perfectly good experience somewhere and still choose another brand. Delighting customers only goes so far. And, Gartner’s survey found that constructing your CX strategy around delighting your customers can cost 10% to 20% more in operational costs.

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Let’s return to my experience with Chewy. Their expensive Christmas card campaign definitely delighted me. I loved the personalization and thought. It’s clear they care about their customers. But, if I found that purchasing from them required a lot of effort, it’s likely I wouldn’t shop from them anymore. The Christmas card alone didn’t convince me to be a loyal customer. So, what builds loyalty?

Omnichannel Customer Experience as the Low Effort Solution

Gartner’s study concludes that low-effort customer experience is the key to building loyalty. It’s worth understanding how to make the customer journey between online and offline channels effortless.

When there’s a seamless transition between all your channels, you remove friction. And when your agents have the customer information they need to solve problems, customers spend less time waiting for answers. This seamless journey is what defines positive interactions. We call this an omnichannel customer experience. So, what makes a good omnichannel experience? 

Let’s dig into what it takes to craft an omnichannel customer experience that lowers customer effort.

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Identify the Needs of the Majority

Omnichannel transformation must ensure that each channel, and the handoffs across channels, are optimized for every customer interaction. McKinsey found that more than half of customers engage with three to five channels when they make a purchase or resolve a request.

Some companies have tried to hone into every touchpoint. They attempt to meet the needs of customers with each interaction. This gets overwhelming fast and leads to higher costs and competing priorities. Realistically, it’s easier and more effective to focus on getting your current channels right than piecing together tons of new disjointed channels.

In general, customer expectations fall into three categories:

  1. Speed and flexibility: Short wait times, responsive agents, and service that solves real problems.
  2. Reliability and transparency: Proactive outreach, consistent communication, and trustworthy agents.
  3. Interaction and care: Empathetic communication that’s simple and clear, personalized interactions, and agents that take the time to care for each individual customer.

Your customer’s expectations vary. To hone in on the needs of each individual feels nearly impossible. That’s why it’s imperative to gather direct and up-to-date data and feedback from your customers, so you can personalize their experiences. 

Which channels are most important to your customers? Identify what they care about — is it speed? Personal attention with a live agent? Better proactive outreach? Use analytics and direct feedback to make full use of your rich customer-interaction data. Then, you can truly understand customer intentions and behaviors across channels.

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Build Your Omnichannel Customer Experience Around Top Priorities

Once you’ve identified the channels your customers turn to and what they expect from your service, you can build omnichannel experiences that work for your customers. 

Let’s say your customers care about speed more than personal attention from a live agent. And, they frequently reach out through live chat and phone. Target your omnichannel strategy on getting customers their answers, fast, through those key channels.

You may amp up your self-service tools, your IVR options, and your chatbots to answer FAQs for your customers. Build out your live chat to provide easy access to your knowledge base. Give your customers more control. Weed out the basic questions before they reach your agents.

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According to McKinsey, automated systems see a 20% boost in customer engagement when companies give them attention. With better IVR and live chatbots, basic questions get answered faster.

This ultimately reduces the time it takes to handle calls that do reach an agent. Efficient omnichannel systems alert agents of your customers’ intentions. They communicate customer history back to your team for a faster resolution overall. Your agents can expect the needs and anticipate the general kind of inquiry they’re about to receive.

Simultaneously, agents have more time during their interactions to build loyalty and delight. Handling basic questions through your live chat and IVR frees agents’ time. They can now take time to talk with customers who reach them to address more complex issues.

Companies that adopt a more customer-centric stance create significant value.

Build Loyal Relationships with a Customer-Centric Mindset

To create a low-effort omnichannel experience, focus on understanding what customers want and need. Then, prioritize.

An omnichannel customer experience must permeate through the entirety of the organization. That way, at every touchpoint, customers get consistent, low-effort service. This approach shows customers that you understand their journey.

Focus resources on the channels and needs your customers truly value. With that information, you can provide personalized attention. This leads to better service and demands little effort from your customers.

Learn from the best: 4 Ways Warby Parker Exceeds Omnichannel Retailing Expectations and Delivers a Unique Customer Experience