It’s no secret that we are living in an age of omnichannel engagement. Customers today, empowered by a plethora of digital devices, can choose when, where and how they want to interact with brands. Millennials in particular expect their favorite brands to be easily accessible, all the time, via their channel of choice — SDL research indicates that 67 percent of millennials touch two different devices daily and 60 percent agree “it should feel the same when dealing with a company whether you’re online, in a store or on the phone."
Expectations are higher than ever for marketers to deliver.
Start Small, But Start Now
Most brands are working to make content accessible via a larger number of channels but many are not keeping pace with the diverse range of channels out there. Customer Experience Management (CXM) decision makers around the world are still leaning on traditional channels like email and phone. To succeed today and in the future marketers need to adapt to a new spectrum of consumer preferences, expectations and behaviors.
Omnichannel engagement is a significant paradigm shift. It may seem like a monumental task, but even small initial efforts are likely to make a substantial difference. Marketers can start by defining a comprehensive strategy and implementing it step by step — each phase driving toward truly seamless customer engagement will positively impact your brand’s performance.
Begin aggregating customer data and implementing a system to manage and analyze the information — this is a critical first step. Knowledge about where and how your customers are interacting with your brand provides the foundation necessary for a customer-focused approach. Ultimately, when you successfully develop a marketing strategy driven by data-based knowledge revealing the needs and behaviors of your customers, you will find that the individual channels become irrelevant.
Rather than putting a focus on individual channels, determine the experience you want your customer to have and adjust your strategies accordingly. Whether this entails modernizing the shopping experience or changing the way you engage customers to become brand advocates, the channels should be so connected that they become irrelevant, placing the focus on the customer’s overall experience.
Is your organization rising to meet this goal? Before taking on the challenge of engaging customers with a consistent experience across channels, here are three questions to ask:
1. Are you keeping track of where and how customers are interacting with you?
In order to improve customer experience, you must start by evaluating where you currently stand. Who is interacting with your platform, and where is it doing well? If you’re already aggregating that kind of data, are you using it to its full advantage?
To meet your customers where they are and present them with information they find useful, you need to make sure you are offering the appropriate content for where each customer is on his/her path to purchase. Building customer loyalty is less about getting the sale and more about developing meaningful relationships over time.
2. Does your brand offer consistent customer experience across different platforms and devices?
Consistency goes a long way to building trust and brand loyalty. Overall customer satisfaction hinges on a seamless experience across the customer journey, where data collected is used to ensure customers see and receive what they want, where and when they want it. A consistent customer experience can be a key differentiator for your brand. It reinforces your identity and keeps your audience focused on your message in the midst of today’s crowded marketplace.
3. How can you ensure you have access to all the customer data your brand needs?
It is critical to connect silos within the company by taking inventory of all touch points along the customer journey across relevant departments. Make sure you are collecting data from every step along the buyers’ path, and that once it is collected, critical information is extracted and put into the overall CXM strategy. In order to prevent new channels from creating new data silos, it is important to periodically update your inventory process and evaluate how you can continue to improve internal collaboration.
Your customers have changed their expectations for engagement and in order to remain competitive you need to make rapid changes to adapt. Keep your strategy focused on what you know about the behaviors and preferences of your customers. Finally, make sure you are constantly reevaluating your tactics to provide the best omnichannel experience, as the new channels and methods of engagement customers are using today are only the beginning.
About the Author
Paige O’Neill is the Chief Marketing Officer of SDL, holding almost 20 years of experience in senior marketing roles. She can be followed on Twitter at @Paige_ONeill.
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