Customer experience is beginning to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, both in-store and particularly, online. With the increased popularity of online shopping amongst customers - 95% of purchases are estimated to be made online by 2040 - eCommerce channels are paving ways for businesses to capitalize on, and also making it even easier to optimize the buying journey for their target markets.
To understand how to achieve this, businesses need to consider different approaches to connecting with their customers. Most organisations are familiar with the term, “omnichannel” and “multichannel” where different touchpoints across the customer journey work together to provide customers with a seamless customer experience. However, while these approaches may meet the needs of the connected customer by engaging with them across all channels, in the end, the customer just wants to buy how they want, when they want, have their questions and queries solved quickly and feedback acknowledged. They don’t care how, they don’t care what channel does it, they really just care about feeling connected and being heard by a brand. Enter another approach, the “channel-less” customer experience.
A channel-less customer experience aims to make shopping effortless for your customers. Ideally, your customers shouldn’t have to “think” about where to go to find what they are looking for, where to check out, and so on because each experience is unified and personable.
So what does this look like exactly?
Your brand is easily accessible to your customers. Your customer mobile experience should be interlinked with your in-store experience. This could be done in the way of letting them know of any deals or specials that are happening while they are actively shopping. A great way to do so is by building individual profiles for each customer. This simplifies an organisation’s ability to identify individual preferences and past order history to better their customer’s experiences.
Your brand caters to each customer’s needs, locations and preferences. All product information that gets sent out is personalized and tells them everything they need to know about why this product or service is right for them, without directly saying it. In fact, when a product or service is contextually relevant, overall brand favorability increases by 40%.
The connected customer desires personal interactions with companies and those that provide that, ultimately hit the mark. The facts speak for themselves on personalized channel-less customer experiences:
Customers want to know where their order is and when it will arrive. Order tracking is one of the biggest needs of the connected customer. They don’t just desire it at one touchpoint, 73% of customers want it available across all. This is not the only part of the buying process customers want made ‘transparent’. They want access to their previous order history and whether they purchased in-store, online or through a separate retail partner for each transaction. And, ideally, this needs to be easy to find through their mobile or eCommerce profile with your brand.
Customers want an experience that allows them to be flexible and in turn, their customer experience is responsive and receptive to their changes in behavior. They want options. Options for payment, delivery and shipping. They want businesses to act quickly, provide regular updates and show concern when things go wrong.
Channel-less customer experiences are all about building connections. Instead of looking at each of your touchpoints and channels, whether that be social media, re-targeting, lead generation or email and video marketing, content and affiliate marketing and search engine marketing in isolation consider them as parts of a network.
Stop focusing on channels. Instead, just consider the customer themself. What do they want: a connected and personalized experience with a brand. To get closer to the idea of a channel-less customer experience, a brand must keep their focus on the overall customer journey and on building an experience for each customer that can seamlessly shift from online, over the phone, on social media, emails, or instore, in real-time.
You need the right technology to achieve a channel-less customer experience, it’s that simple. It could be in the form of a customer data platform (CDP) providing a universal view of a customer across all channels in real-time. These artificial intelligence programs can even help brands with conversational marketing that can pick up conversations across different channels to maintain a seamless experience or automated shopping experiences.
The technology your business uses must work for the connected customers of today. Unified commerce is becoming the only commerce and investing in tech that can deliver this seamlessly for both you and your customers will be worthwhile in the long run.
A channel-less customer experience is all about the customer as the focus, right? Making sure they have a smooth, personalized, flexible, transparent and mobile overall experience can be a lot for each touchpoint. You want to bring joy, evoke calmness and not create frustration within your customers - all at the same time. At each touchpoint, make sure to fill it with moments that resonate and connect with customers in a meaningful way.
In the end, the customer wants to connect with you, the brand. Regardless of what channel, it doesn’t matter, they want to feel heard, engaged and valued. So make sure that each connection is maintained, universal and seamless.
In a world where the battle for customers has never been more fiercely contested, it has never been more important for businesses to be in the right place at the right time to engage with them. The modern customer is drawn to brands that care about more than just the sale, those organizations that are invested in conversations, truly engage with their audiences and value their customer experiences.
Outsourcing has proven to be a cost-effective, low-risk tool for improving customer experience, particularly in an environment where people expect 24/7 service, rival businesses are waiting online and under-resourced companies are in danger of disgruntled customers airing their frustrations on social media and as a result impacting the bottom line.
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