Omni-Channel: Are you doing it right?
The omni-channel concept has permanently entered into our business jargon. Every second article headline screams - you need an omni-channel approach, or that it’s crucial to your business, and that this is a must-have development strategy for your company.
Even though omni-channel has been a buzzword for some time now, there is still some misunderstanding about the concept and how it is approached.
Omni-channel, multichannel, cross-channel… there is one common thing to all of them. They are all misleading.
First came multichannel, which meant that there should be numerous sales channels. However, that came with little to no interaction between the channels. The result? A spaghetti of IT systems and a general lack of business performance. Then came the cross-channel approach which implied that customers could manage an order interacting with several channels at once, but this required IT to design and build enterprise-scale integrations for a not-so-seamless user experience. Finally came omni-channel which revolutionized the approach with an assumption that all channels should interact in real time, provide easy access to products and services anytime and anywhere. But this requires a completely new approach to building out the IT systems.
The conclusion about the channels might be simple - the more, the better. But notice this, the chances are that your customers don’t care about the number of channels. What they really care about is to shop the way they want. That is, to be provided with quality service, no matter if they’re shopping online or at the store. They would like you to remember their preferences, to provide them with fast solutions, and to listen to their opinion, regardless of the channel.
It’s clear; we’re no longer talking about the omni-channel but the omni-experience.
Having multiple ways of communicating with customers became an obvious thing, and it’s not a matter of question anymore. In fact, the real purpose is to create an environment where the experience you provide is consistent, seamless, and within which different channels are indistinguishable. Thus, all the channels should blur, and your business should become channel-less.
What is the channel-less experience?
A genuine channel-less experience is based on two significant assumptions. First, at the center of all your actions is always the customer. Your decisions must be customer-focused, and you should aim to strengthen the relationship between your brand and the customer. Second, the customer experience and the brand identity should be fully coherent across different touch points. Orchestrate a customer’s experience across all touch points. Your customers should get back to your brand just like connecting with an old friend, with whom they always know what to expect.
In the digital era, customers use multiple ways of reaching out to the chosen brands. We became a nation of multi-screeners, who often start a shopping process on one device and finish on another. We choose an appropriate channel depending on our context, that is where we are, how much time we have, and what our goal is. We switch back and forward from digital to physical. And brands need to keep up with us. You need to reach out to your customer at the right time and through the right channel to make them choose your product or service. This is what a true channel-less experience should look like.
How to create the channel-less experience?
A buying process is not just an action of obtaining services or goods any longer. Right now, more than ever, it is rather a series of interactions between a customer and the brand. The buying decision is often based on beliefs and emotions customers relate to the brand. That is why they expect an entirely consistent approach and a message that the brand is sending. Split-personality is fake and off-putting. Customers see brands as separate social entities, so they interact with them not stepping out of the regular and personal context. They await the same approach the other way round.
Let the data drive your business
The real puzzler is how to make it personalized? Well, in fact, you have more data about your customers, than you think. You just need to get access to it. An automated and centralized omni-channel tool can support you with real-time access to data. The trick is to start using the data achieved from one channel in all of them.
Centralize the product catalog
Use one centralized product catalog built on the integrated Configure-Price-Quote engine for all sales channels and touchpoints. This will let you unify the price lists and product assortment across numerous channels to provide transparent and up-to-date information to your customers as well as to your sales team and resellers.
Customers in the digital age like to be brand- and product-aware, and like to have the purchase process under their control. Empower them with an option to go through the buying process on their own. Stay aside and don’t intervene unless necessary, and be ready to provide high-quality support.
Standardize the sales process
To get real insights about your customers, try to see things from their perspective. If they forgot about the channels a long time ago, why haven’t you done the same in your company? Omni relates to every business aspect. We cannot create the omni-experience for our customers, having a scattered and unstandardized sales process internally. Introduce clear and consistent standards for all sales channels.
Make the differences blur
Modern customers use numerous sources during the buying process. They easily switch between digital and physical, from one platform to another. To keep up with them, you should be able to do the same. Mix various ways of communicating with your customer to create the best experience possible. For instance, you may adopt in-store digital technologies and let them support your in-store business. Digital technologies will let you not only create a 360-degree experience but also gather more insightful information about your customers.
Given the sophisticated nature of today’s customer, it has become an imperative for companies to provide an omni-channel yet channel-less buying experience to its customers. However, this can only be achieved if the right processes, systems and access to data are in place. Once this is in place, it will be difficult for anyone to imagine a different approach to sales and customer service.
A Point of View by
Waleria Pękalska - Product Marketing Specialist at enxoo responsible for the promotion of industry-specific quote-to-cash enxoo solutions.
We are a Salesforce® Alliance Partner providing consulting, industry-specific solutions and implementation services to our clients. Our mission is to partner with our clients to solve business challenges by delivering meaningful Salesforce services. At enxoo, we can fuel your business!
About enxoo commerce
A complex industry-cloud solution built on the quote-to-revenue engine and designed to unify the sales process across numerous channels. Soon available on AppExchange.
Go to enxoo.com for more information on our solutions and customer stories.