What it is, that we’re talking about here?
Multi-channel, cross-channel and most importantly: omni-channel.
In a recent study that we conducted on The state of eCommerce, it showed that the number one technology that stands out in corporate investment plans, is multi-channel. This is nothing new, though. The past years have already seen heavy investments in delivering a true multi-channel customer experience, embracing all potential digital touch points: web, mobile or digitalization of the physical store. However, the maturing of multi-channel has brought a new problem to the surface: the fragmented customer data landscape.
Let’s take a look at John Brown. You know that John placed an order in your webshop. You also know a John who regularly seeks for support on Twitter. And then you know a John who has had his shoes repaired in a city nearby. He is a happy and valued customer. Now, how do you know that they are the same John and –if so- combine their profiles, to make sure he gets the service he deserves? Precisely this –data- is what’s central to bringing your customer experience to the next level. And precisely this –data- is what makes omni-channel the new rising star of the web. Therefore, precisely this is what this blog post will address.
It’s the data, stupid
Today, most companies do pretty well on the multi-channel side. But: this approach gives them nothing more than a license to enter a given market. In order to actually compete or win within the market, the company needs either a cross- or an omni-channel approach. Why? To outperform the other players in the market! Because that’s what Customer Experience Leaders do, as is shown by Forrester’s analysis of the Standard & Poor’s top 500 index from 2007-2014. Moreover, being a Customer Experience Leader requires the centralization of your customer data. Only then will you be able to identify and provide your clients with a customer experience that is seamless as well as relevant across all the individual touch points.
Source: Forrester Research
How impatient is your customer?
Did you know that out of each five of your customers, four of them use several devices simultaneously? They expect your brand to act accordingly and to cater to their omni-channel behaviour, jumping from one device to the other. These four people will be less and less tolerant for brands that interact as a channel and not as one brand. A channel doesn’t interest them in the least - they probably don’t even realize when shifting from one to another, but they do expect the brand to follow and know them. Entering the same information twice? Being exposed to irrelevant and impersonal information? John gets a little impatient there. If you don’t provide John with a seamless customer experience, he will find someone else who does.
Therefore, a seamless customer experience is crucial for your businesses’ survival and really, if you look at the return, it is hard to find a reason not to get started:
Companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.
Source: Aberdeen Group
All data in one box
So where to start? We’re already touched it: you need to have your customer data in one, centralised place. How do you organize that? Often, this is the responsibility of the CRM system. But now that customers are moving between devices and touch points unendingly, new data sets are required continuously. Behavioural data from the individual must be harvested, before they can transform into a relevant and seamless customer experience. This harvesting must be extremely dynamic. This is where CRM systems often fall short for both the harvesting and processing of the behavioural data.
So what is needed instead? For the true omni-channel experience, your user data needs to be collected, consolidated and used from all touch points. You need to know customer John Brown from his first search attempt in google, be able to identify John and his preferences when he places his order, and address John personally as soon as he seeks for support on twitter. This can seem overwhelming, but it certainly is not impossible. We work with Sitecore and Innometrics, for example, software that is capable of providing a single customer view through breaking down data silos, harvesting customer data, segmenting from a rich amount of data sources, and serving this intelligence back to several channels – in real-time. This provides us with a single customer view of relevant data across channels, so that we can foster a data landscape that makes John’s customer experience rich (information suits precisely his needs) and seamless (no need to enter data again and again).
The single customer view
With Sitecore as a general site platform, it is possible to harvest data from external sources with applications such as Sitecore’s Federated Experience Manager or Innometrics. This means precisely what you think it means: it moves all your customer data in one place. This form of centralized data collection consolidates both horizontal and vertical user data and thereby integrates various sources of customer data into one central place. For enterprise companies with several brands it can be extremely valuable to share customer intelligence across the different brands’ touch points and channels. By doing that, you assure that John, who first bought a pair of brand A shoes but has a latent interest in a pair of brand B shoes as well, can actually be addressed. Your brand promise will never go unnoticed, as it will always match with individual preferences. No better way to build a strong relationship than being personal, right?
The single customer view offers you, as a business, endless opportunities. For now, let’s stay within the benefits for drafting a true omni-channel experience. It lets you:
- Make a sophisticated segmentation based on a rich basis of customer data
- Share profiles and segments across channels for consistent communication
- Export profiles and segments to other channels for increased content relevancy through personalization
- Create personalized content from the first click
- Use segments in analytics to generate business insights
Copenhagen Airports has already seen their customer experience increase drastically, with an indisputable rise in turnover. Get inspired by their story.