Today’s customer expects a seamless omnichannel experience. According to Google research, omnichannel drives as much as 80% of store visits. But while many retailers understand its importance, many struggle with optimizing omnichannel experiences and turning them to their advantage. Some common issues may include the diversity of the customer base, the complexity of integrating an omnichannel approach, and the always-evolving customer preferences.
Fortunately, simple tools such as customer feedback and data can help retailers improve omnichannel service delivery and attract and retain more customers. By collecting and analyzing feedback from their audience, retailers, and eCommerce professionals can leverage the learned insights and improve their operations effectively. Identifying and rectifying a business’s pain points will surely upgrade a brand’s overall image and performance. Follow this guide for optimizing omnichannel experiences with customer feedback.
What is an omnichannel customer experience?
By definition, the omnichannel customer experience involves creating a cohesive customer journey. Companies do this by advertising to, selling to, and supporting potential and existing customers across various channels. The goal is to create a seamless experience across all customers’ points of interaction, known as customer journey touchpoints, such as eCommerce websites, SMS communication, email marketing lists, social media, and in-person stores.
The omnichannel customer experience essentially allows customers to start interacting with brands on one channel and switch channels along the way without encountering a change in the overall experience. For example, if a customer is chatting with a service representative through SMS messaging and needs to transition to the call, they should not have to give all their information all over again to the phone rep. The phone rep should already have all the data from the initial interaction.
Ultimately, providing and optimizing omnichannel experiences means aligning all business strategies, including marketing, sales, and customer support. The end goal is to deliver a frictionless experience for the customer regardless of when, where, and how they interact with the brand.
How to optimize an omnichannel experience
To be effective in providing exceptional omnichannel customer experiences, retailers should have a clear strategy first. But before creating one, retailers should remember not to confuse omnichannel experiences with multi-channel ones.
The multi-channel experience refers to offering products in multiple locations, online and in-store. An omnichannel experience is more about anticipating customer needs and preferences and meeting them where they are. Omnichannel considers more aspects of the shopping journey, from researching a new product to reaching customer service after purchase.
The key is to streamline the whole process of the customer journey, from brand awareness to order, and return purchases. Firstly, to create and establish a thriving omnichannel experience for the retail and eCommerce industry, businesses need to integrate data sources into a central system and fuse disparate channels. Additionally, to deliver coherent and consistent shopping journeys, brands need to maintain smooth transitions between channels and offer tailored, personalized experiences based on customer behavior.
Then, through effective inventory management, flexible delivery, and return options, these important components ensure credibility and trust. The last step is feedback and assessment, as these aspects will result in the improvement of areas that lack the necessary attention and provide a refined strategy that keeps moving forward.
Optimizing omnichannel experiences: building the right strategy
Creating a cohesive strategy for optimizing omnichannel experiences benefits retailers in multiple ways. Retailers that strategically offer these experiences to customers see three to six times more revenue growth than their peers. On average, omnichannel retailers also have a higher median conversion rate than those not offering an omnichannel experience.
Although the majority of retailers say in-store shopping will always be central to their business strategy, over 60% of shoppers shop in multiple locations, including social media. Stores that offer optimized omnichannel experiences had 494% higher order rates than those that did not.
When retailers commit to optimizing omnichannel experiences, customers get consistent service regardless of where they shop. For example, an integrated inventory tracking system in-store and online allows customers to access the products they want instead of adding something to their cart online and having the item canceled later because it wasn’t in stock.
Solutions for optimizing omnichannel experiences
Retailers dipping their toes into omnichannel optimization strategies may think the experience is limited to their website and physical store. However, omnichannel solutions extend beyond these avenues.
When researching a brand, a customer might look at a retailer’s website and choose to interact with the social media profile. They may also use social media for customer service or interact with representatives through SMS chats. When shopping, they could purchase items at a physical store location and even virtually through the Metaverse or another virtual or augmented reality platform.
The key for retailers to successfully implement an optimized omnichannel experience strategy is to know how customers are interacting with their brand and tailor each channel accordingly.
Optimizing omnichannel experiences step-by-step
Optimizing omnichannel experiences is all about cross-channel experience enhancement. Any retailer interested in creating a customer-centric omnichannel design can follow these steps to make the customer journey more seamless as they move from one channel to another.
Understand your customer
The first step in optimizing omnichannel experiences with customer feedback is understanding how customers interact with a brand. Retailers should gather existing customer data to create buyer personas or profiles of their ideal customers. They should describe their prospects’ needs and pain points and map their typical experience.
Retailers should use integrated feedback, analyzing customer surveys and loyalty programs to identify how their best customers interact with them online and get a sense of their preferences. This will allow them to perfectly tailor customers’ points of contact and provide a seamless experience across the most preferred channels.
For instance, after compiling customer feedback and statistics, a retailer may learn that many of its best customers prefer to contact customer service through SMS, so they can refine this channel to be more responsive to client needs.
Audit your current channels
Once a brand has a solid understanding of its customers, it can start auditing its existing channels. Make a list of how customers interact with each current channel, such as social media, the website, customer service channels, instant messenger, and the store’s app. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each channel and assess whether or not a customer’s experience is consistent across channels.
Centralize your data
Customer data is essential to creating the best omnichannel optimization strategies, and retailers should keep it all in one location. With easy access to data, retailers can analyze analytics — such as web-browsing patterns, demographics, and purchase history and behaviors — to enhance omnichannel experiences.
Centralizing data gives retailers a 360-view of the customer experience, allowing them to tweak less efficient parts of operations for a coherent experience. For example, online shoppers may get frustrated when the website doesn’t reflect a brand’s actual inventory. Centralizing data eliminates this problem.
Ensure brand consistency
As more retailers choose to automate various parts of the customer service process, such as chat customer service tools for quick inquiries, they run a risk of losing a consistent brand image. If brands want to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience, they should ensure consistency in all business areas, including branding. A chatbot should give answers using the same tone of voice as a real service agent.
For example, a retailer may decide to target shoppers in the Metaverse with an AI-based virtual reality (VR) store. In this case, the virtual reality experience should be consistent with what the customer would experience in person. The virtual store should offer the same design aesthetic and core messaging as a physical location.
Optimize each channel
Next, retailers should use customer feedback to optimize each channel. They should leverage customer satisfaction surveys, social media comments, customer service conversations, and other contact points to tailor each channel to customer preferences.
For example, many people like shopping in stores because they can interact with and try on merchandise. To reach these shoppers online, a brand may offer an easier return process so customers can return or exchange items they don’t like without going out of their way.
Each channel offers its unique strengths. By paying attention to how customers interact with each channel, retailers can improve them all to match customer use and expectations.
As part of optimizing omnichannel experiences, retailers need to create a cohesive customer journey. Customers rarely interact with a brand using only one channel, so retailers should ensure an integrated experience across channels.
For example, customers should be able to add an item to their cart using a mobile device and check out on a desktop computer. They should also be able to order an item online and pick it up in a physical store.
Personalize the experience
Collecting and centralizing customer data allows brands to personalize the customer experience by tailoring each channel to the buyer’s needs and preferences. It gives them an opportunity to tailor the communication based on how likely the customers are to make a buying decision, sending promotions or motivational blogs to inspire more conversions. For example, if retailers know many customers do preliminary research on social media, they can create posts that boost brand awareness, highlighting their unique value.
Invest in training
Optimizing omnichannel experiences involves creating consistency. Retailers need to train their teams to offer the same level of service regardless of their role. Customer-facing employees, customer service employees, sales staff, and anyone managing customer relationship software should be trained in the same way to create consistency.
Each retailer should stay on top of technology and learn how it can enhance the customer experience. For example, new developments in customer service, including AI-powered chatbots and messaging systems, allow retailers to be responsive at all hours. These tools help handle simple customer queries, eliminating the need for 24-hour customer service and freeing up human representatives to tackle more complex calls and tasks.
Measure and adjust
Once retailers implement their omnichannel strategies, they should compare key metrics such as overall sales, delivery times, customer service wait times, and digital marketing conversion rates. These measurements will give retailers insight into what low-performing areas may require changing.
Omnichannel experiences optimization: a marketing plan template
Marketing is a key component of optimizing omnichannel experiences. Sponsored social media posts, pay-per-click ads, and other marketing channels serve as an introduction to a brand, so it’s essential that marketing is consistent with omnichannel service delivery.
Retailers can use the following template to align their marketing with omnichannel customer experience delivery:
Omnichannel executive summary
Retailers can start their templates by building an overview of their omnichannel marketing strategies, including:
- Primary goals and objectives for each channel
- The main objective of the plan
- Expected outcomes
- Key performance indicators to measure success
Omnichannel customer persona and journey mapping
Once they have clear objectives ahead, retailers can jump to creating customer personas for their omnichannel marketing strategies. They can do so by gathering and examining the following factors:
For each persona, retailers should map out their journey, highlighting various touchpoints across channels.
An omnichannel marketing plan should also deal with analysis. Retailers should audit all their channels for:
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT)
- Current gaps in the omnichannel approach
Channel integration strategy
The next step in the process should be developing a channel integration strategy. Retailers can determine what channels they should align and leverage by examining the following factors:
- How each channel fits into the customer journey
- How to move customers along their journey through different channels
- What technologies and platforms can integrate
Omnichannel content strategy
A solid omnichannel marketing plan should also have a clear content strategy. Retailers should develop content that resonates with customers for each channel based on where they are in their journey. They should appeal to each persona and their needs based on the stage, from awareness to decision-making.
Omnichannel personalization strategy
A crucial step to developing an effective omnichannel marketing strategy is personalizing it for individual users. Retailers can use data analytics to better tailor their loyalty and other personalized programs to individual needs. They can also integrate client relationship management technology to provide personalized experiences more easily. Data-management platforms can also help get deeper customer insights and understand what services and experiences to offer.
Omnichannel customer service and support integration
As part of the plan, retailers should ensure their customer service and support are consistent across channels. They should prepare customer service reps to have a uniform approach to their tasks and align AI-powered chatbots or other automation tools accordingly.
Omnichannel technology stack and tools
Retailers will likely need to leverage the newest technology to keep up with the ever-evolving omnichannel trends. They can determine what technology and tools to choose for their specific situation by:
- Assessing holes in technology and identifying tools that can fill them
- Ensuring tools can integrate with existing systems
- Prioritizing data analytics and reporting
Omnichannel training and internal alignment
Retailers should bring all departments on board with the omnichannel strategy. They should provide consistent training and encourage internal communication.
Omnichannel monitoring and analytics
Once retailers set up their omnichannel marketing plans, they should define and track key performance indicators (KPIs) accordingly, so they can gauge their performance and success over time. They can use Google Analytics, CRM software, and other tools to collect and analyze customer data and check it against their primary KPIs.
Omnichannel feedback and continuous improvement
Retailers should also ensure they continuously follow their plan and provide consistent experiences by:
- Regularly collecting customer feedback using surveys and other forms
- Reviewing and adjusting omnichannel marketing based on feedback
- Staying up to date with omnichannel retail trends and best practices
Omnichannel budgeting and forecasting
Finally, retailers should:
- Allocate the proper budget across platforms
- Use omnichannel marketing results to adjust budgets and estimate revenues
- Set revenue goals based on omnichannel customer engagement and other expected outcomes
Key elements of the omnichannel business model
Retailers interested in optimizing omnichannel experiences should integrate the following elements into their business model:
Key 1: Multiple channels
Customers need multiple shopping options. These may include an eCommerce website, a mobile app, and social media forms. Retailers should also offer several customer service avenues, including chats and call centers.
Key 2: Seamless integration
All channels need to be connected. For example, a customer should be able to browse products online and go to a physical store to try on the merch. They can then make a purchase through a mobile app or have their products shipped to the store for pickup.
Key 3: Consistent branding and messaging
Retailers should keep their branding consistent across platforms to make the customer journey seamless. A customer shopping online should get a similar experience to one shopping in the store. Branding and product information should be consistent throughout each channel.
Key 4: Centralized data
Optimizing omnichannel experiences is easier with centralized data. When all customer data is in one place, retailers get a 360-degree view of their customers, tracking behaviors and preferences and accessing feedback.
Key 5: Personalized customer experience
Using information collected with an omnichannel marketing platform, retailers should personalize customer experiences. They can personalize product recommendations or conduct customer service calls using the customer’s preferred channel.
Key 6: Flexible purchase and return options
Offering features such as Buy Online, Pick Up In Store, or allowing customers to return items bought online in a physical store is part of the appeal of the omnichannel experience. Retailers should be flexible in how they allow customers to purchase, receive, and return items.
Key 7: Unified inventory management
Part of optimizing omnichannel experiences is maintaining a consistent inventory across shopping channels. Online and offline inventories should operate on a singular system, so customers always know what’s in stock.
Example of omnichannel retail experience: Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger is a prime example of a retailer offering a cohesive omnichannel experience.
This retailer operates physical locations across the United States and Canada and sells merchandise at various department stores worldwide.
Tommy Hilfiger’s website fits the brand with its signature colors and clean fonts. It’s easy to navigate, allowing customers to find the same items online that they could find in a store.
The retailer offers an app in certain countries, including Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Customers can also buy Tommy Hilfiger products through department store apps.
For fashion week in 2023, Tommy Hilfiger debuted a VR hub for customers to preview new looks and buy them directly from the online environment. Customers could have real pieces shipped or buy products to wear in the game.
Tommy Hilfiger makes it easy for customers to return merchandise. Customers can either return items to a physical store or through the mail using a simple online form.
Customers who sign up for emails get personalized recommendations based on their preferences and purchase history.
Tips for optimizing omnichannel experiences using customer feedback
Follow these tips to optimize omnichannel experiences with the help of customer feedback:
Tip 1: Stay on top of customer behavior
Customer behavior is ever-evolving with trends and technology. Stay on top of these trends using analytical data and modify strategies to fit new customer preferences.
Tip 2: Identify your best touchpoints
When gathering customer data, retailers can see which channels get the best results for their businesses. They should use these insights to tend to their highest-yield channels or create strategies to improve less successful ones.
Tip 3: Use real-time analytics
Retailers should use analytics and other data to improve each touchpoint. For example, if multiple customers say they must wait too long for customer service, a retailer can use chatbots to handle simple requests, freeing up phone lines and reducing wait times. 9
Embracing the customers’ voice: the key to crafting seamless omnichannel experiences
So far, we have emphasized two critical points: the importance of a CRM partner and the value of accumulating credible data. Both act as a compass helping retailers, eCommerce professionals, and marketers to navigate the complex ecosystem of a seamless omnichannel customer engagement strategy. Moreover, data serves as a foundation for the realization of a business plan to build on informed decisions and create personalized interactions through holistic customer journeys.
As you embark on redefining and transforming your game, keep in mind that the world of eCommerce offers unlimited opportunities. If you’re ready to nail omnichannel, follow the best practices listed above and partner with a leader in omnichannel marketing to deliver personalized customer interactions at scale. ContactPigeon can help you create a cohesive omnichannel experience to attract and retain more customers. Schedule a demo to find out more.
Let’s Help You Scale Up