How To Support Customer Experience Across Your Omnichannel Marketing Efforts

By Lexie Lu November 16, 2020

For brands that make the customer experience a top priority, creating a positive Omnichannel customer experience is often a major goal.

Omnichannel approaches to marketing and customer service take advantage of every channel that’s available to deliver customer experiences that are seamless, even when a customer moves from channel to channel during their service journey.

The approach has become more and more effective as customers have come to expect consistent service across channels — and as the number of available channels has risen.

However, Omnichannel can also create some serious challenges for your customer service team.

Important customer information may be scattered across any number of channel-specific data sets.

Out-of-date marketing materials — even if they’re only present in a single channel — can cause major headaches for your team.

Keeping customers in the loop can also become increasingly complex as you add in channels.

These are some of the strategies your business can use to create high-quality customer experiences across your Omnichannel marketing efforts — as well as the challenges that make creating that Omnichannel experience so tricky.

What Does the Customer Want? The Major Challenges of Omnichannel

The rise of the internet, digital marketing and ecommerce means marketers have a massive amount of information at their disposal that they can use to identify what the customer really wants.

That same data can help them understand how customers tend to move from awareness to purchase, as well as the channels that they are engaging with.

The number of channels available can seriously improve convenience for customers, while also giving marketers a much wider array of tools to advertise and communicate with their audience relevant and valuable.

However, Omnichannel marketing can also make marketing much more complicated.

Buyers often use multiple channels to buy a product or resolve an issue they have. This complexity means that, sometimes, customers fall through the cracks.

This might be in small ways — like preferences or discounts that are highly visible on a desktop site but not the mobile one. In other cases, these issues may be more serious.

For example, a company’s customer service rep may have access to only partial data on a customer’s purchase history or a return because they bought it through one channel and returned it with another.

They might not be able to resolve that customer’s issue in one call as a result.

In general, this makes Omnichannel marketing and customer support more expensive.

Research from Harvard Business School shows that when companies adopt digital care channels, it can make serving a customer more complex — driving up the cost per transaction to serve each customer by a little more than a full dollar on average.

Other studies have found that you can cut down on these costs with the right plan.

One study on Omnichannel banking, for example, concluded that, most of the time, it’s very possible to identify which channels provide the biggest return on investment, allowing companies to spend as efficiently as possible.

New tech — like chatbots — can help speed up responses.

However, if customers have to interact with support reps over and over again to solve a problem, they’re probably not going to walk away satisfied with their experience, regardless of how fast the support team is able to respond.

Omnichannel support works best if you have data collection methods in place that allow you to actively identify these potential road bumps.

The same data collection strategy can also help you gather information on how customers really interact with your brand and use different channels.

As a result, you’ll be better equipped to truly tailor your marketing strategy to the reality of the Omnichannel buying process.

Supporting Divergent Customer Needs

McKinsey researchers, in a report on Omnichannel customer service, identified four major categories of online use in the total pool of all American consumers.

There are those who use the internet the most intensely. Social media, ecommerce and other online offerings are fully integrated into their lives.

There are also those who use the internet occasionally — as well as those who are still mostly offline and use the internet only when they need to.

Last but not least, there’s also the “offline society,” made up of people who practically never use the internet, and prefer offline channels for shopping and getting in touch with support.

These categories aren’t all the same size. The largest group, ”digital by choice” makes up around 35% of all customers.

Even the smallest grouping, the offline society, accounts for a significant 15% of American consumers.

As a result, it’s likely that not all of your customers will have the same journey from awareness to purchase. Some may start online and stay there.

Others may use a combination of offline and online channels. Some — depending on your business model — may never see your site or social media page at all.

One of the best ways a business can demonstrate care is with additional services that meet unique needs or particular demands.

For example, during COVID-19, many retailers started to offer curbside and contactless pickup options.

However, information on these options wasn’t always consistent. In some cases, customers who relied exclusively on offline or online channels didn’t even know they were available.

Data will be essential to success for an Omnichannel approach. If you can successfully map the service journeys your audience will take, you can adapt your marketing to maximize the convenience and effectiveness of your messaging.

For example, you may find that customers frequently browse online before coming into a physical location to shop.

This business can emphasize support features like online inventory counts for local stores so that shoppers know what a local store has in stock before they head out.

The same business could also tailor local print marketing materials — like catalogs — to reflect local inventories, cutting out-of-stock items to create a local, personalized and more accurate piece of advertising.

Across the company, adaptability and flexibility will need to become core values. Omnichannel marketing is new enough that true best practices and rigid frameworks don’t really exist just yet.

Almost every business will be designing new processes tailor-fit to their particular set of available services and customer needs.

If your company can provide a truly seamless Omnichannel experience, you’ll also score a major competitive advantage.

According to research from Gladly, while the vast majority of customers want a consistent experience across channels, only 29% report that they get one.

Supporting Omnichannel Service With Your Marketing Efforts

Your marketing can help make your customer service more effective and, potentially, boost the overall customer experience as a result.

For example, if you provide a chat widget on your site that allows customers to instantly get in contact with a customer service rep, simple tweaks to the site’s design and written copy can help customers know that the widget is available.

You may have the icon for the chat box highlight itself with a message, or include information about the live chat in your site FAQs.

Highlighting the variety of service options available may help customers find the one that they’d prefer.

Some customers will only want to use texts. Others may only want to call or talk to a rep in-person.

Making it clear that these options are available can help reduce the potential for frustration and build a smoother experience for your customers.

Specialized Omnichannel marketing tools can also help here. Many providers of customer support and marketing platforms are increasingly adding in features to support cross-channel and omni-channel marketing approaches.

For example, some email marketing platforms are adding in trigger-based marketing automation (also called “trigger marketing”), which automates some marketing communications based on the detection of certain marketing “triggers.”

One company may employ a trigger-based email marketing tool that responds to information like customers browsing habits or new info on an order’s shipping status.

This tool may be able to send customers messages on relevant deals based on customer preferences and recent browsing history.

For another customer, it could provide updates on an item’s status, keeping them informed as their order moves through the supply chain.

These marketing techniques can both ensure relevance and timeliness of marketing while also making sure that your marketing keeps customers in the loop.

Best Practices for Omnichannel Marketers

Some Omnichannel marketing techniques are a good idea regardless of your company’s specific niche or what your customers are after.

An effective Omnichannel marketing strategy means no channel gets left behind.

No matter which channel a customer comes to first, marketing materials on that channel should aim to get them moving through the sales funnel.

Each of these channels should also be able to update your audience and adapt based on customer needs.

For example, if a customer wants updates on a product or order, they should be able to get them, no matter which channel they use.

An offline customer should have access to a service call center or service desk at a local store.

An online customer should be able to get in touch with a rep via live chat, email or an online form.

If you start building your Omnichannel marketing strategy with customer communication in mind, you’re much less likely to overlook certain channels or leave customers without the option to use their preferred method of communication.

Matching Marketing Communication to Specific Channels

Once you’ve started to build out the framework for your Omnichannel strategy, it’s also important to consider how different channels may need different communication strategies.

Posts on a social media platform like Twitter, for example, will have different strengths and limitations than a self-hosted blog, a physical in-store display or a pre-roll video advertisement.

When working with your content team, it may be challenging to create advertisements and other marketing materials for a wide variety of channels that are still engagingly relevant to your audience and consistent.

This can be a tricky process, but there are a few different solutions that marketers can take advantage of.

For example, there are new content-as-a-service (CaaS) platforms that streamline and automate many elements of the Omnichannel content process.

With the right platform, your team can create the content once, and it will be automatically reformatted or adapted to fit another channel.

This approach can help reduce the work burden on your content team, while also keeping information and communications as consistent as possible and reducing the risk of miscommunication with your customer base.

Segmentation of your audience across channels may also mean you need to tweak your messaging based on the channel.

A customer who only shops offline, for example, may have a completely different set of needs and preferences than a customer who shops primarily online.

You can take advantage of these differences to create ads and marketing materials that are more closely targeted to the audience of a particular channel — but this will also require some extra work.

Using Omnichannel Marketing to Boost the Customer Experience

Omnichannel marketing can provide a major competitive advantage for companies willing to invest in the approach.

However, it can be difficult to keep customer experiences positive on average across a large number of different channels.

With the right tools, techniques and strategies, however, it is possible to use Omnichannel marketing to boost the customer experience.

If you can keep your communication effective and consistent across every channel, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching your customer base where they are.

Over To You

So, I hope you got a lot of value out of my new omnichannel marketing efforts.

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below right now.

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Lexie Lu

Lexie is a UX designer and tech enthusiast. She enjoys watching sappy Hallmark Christmas movies and decorating for all of the major holidays. Check out her design blog, Design Roast.

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