Catalyst

The age of the omnichannel experience

Bishal kumar | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on December 10, 2015

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Providing a seamless journey across media for information and purchase should be the focus of marketers



Customer service has witnessed colossal strides in the past 5-7 years. At present it is not the product but the customers that are at the forefront of any and every business. About a decade ago, customer service only included the unichannel mode of communication, where customers communicated with companies through a single channel – the telephone.

Things changed considerably when multichannel customer servicing was introduced. It involved conversing over telephone, e-mail, chat and other mediums. However, a swift shift in consumer demographics and communications preferences has created an environment where multichannel communications are no longer ideal for optimisation of customer experience. Over the past couple of years, it is omnichannel that has taken the world of customer communications by storm.

Evolution

Omnichannel customer communication existed as an unfamiliar concept until it was introduced to the sphere of marketing in 2010, to portray customer experience that extends beyond multichannel. In 2012, Omnichannel took the shape of a trendy buzzword when customers used an average of 3.7 mobile devices to research pricing before purchasing.

Nevertheless, with the incessant rise of social media, omnichannel has rapidly become a marketing necessity. In 2014, $12 billion retail sales were made on smartphones and $1.1 trillion store sales were largely influenced by the web. These figures speak volumes about the present-day customer who wants to make optimum use of social media and the web before making any transaction.

Why the world needs it

The realm of customer servicing would have been satisfied with multichannel if only it could have able to integrate all channels of communication under a single interface. The new-age customer often uses multiple channels for a purchase and views it as a single transaction. Therefore, he/she might receive an offer to buy the latest iPhone on mobile email, research a bit on the web, consult a sales representative over the phone and finally buy the smartphone using his tablet. This is precisely why today’s world needs Omnichannel.

Omnichannel customer engagement tracks the customer’s entire journey across channels and thereby creates a consistent and optimised experience, something that the multichannel approach doesn’t factor in.

Customers expect seamless and consistent online experience, and won’t tolerate being restricted to a single communication channel. Omnichannel is the technology that allows them to initiate communication on one channel and thereafter, smoothly glide into another channel, without going through the hassles of restarting the conversation. Omnichannel interactions put the customer at the centre of its strategy, rather than corporate silos.

The way ahead

With the proliferation of social media networks, marketers are faced with an increasing number of choices to communicate with the consumer. Slowly but surely, businesses are gearing themselves for the dive from a multichannel orientation to a more holistic omnichannel approach. Marketers can make customised offers about customers’ favourite products by consistently tracking about their choices with the help of omnichannel interactions.

The year 2015 can be touted as the year where the term ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) received great attention. According to a Forrester report, there has been a massive 89 per cent increase in retailers that integrate mobile technology into stores. Brands are adapting to the ever rising number of channels of interaction, customer touch points and wireless devices, as IoT is quickly becoming a reality. Furthermore, mobile commerce is predicted to grow by 33 per cent annually for the next three years.

Omnichannel is no longer an option; it is a necessity given the evolution in customer preferences and expectations. At the same time, it should be viewed as a superior way to interact with customers and to reduce the gap between companies and consumers. In the near future, all contact centres regardless of industry or geography need to move towards omnichannel customer interaction to survive, else they will soon cease to exist.

Bishal Kumar is Co-Founder & CEO, Ameyo, a centre for omnichannel CX solutions

Published on December 10, 2015
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