We no longer live in a 9 to 5, desktop-dominated world.
The way we work, communicate and travel is being disrupted.
Businesses looking to compete at this time are placing customers and their needs at the center of their strategies. Those that don't create dynamic and user-centered omnichannel strategies will eventually fail, missing out on revenue growth, opportunities to enter new markets and ways to build loyalty with existing and future customers.
But the work doesn't end once a strategy is created — organizations must continue to evolve, and here's how.
Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Current Implementation
Omnichannel strategies are a nascent art form and hard to get right the first time.
Many companies make the mistake of focusing too much attention on reshaping internal processes during the implementation stage. Instead they should step into the shoes of their customers to understand their needs and viewpoint before engaging them with a new offering.
Listening carefully and often and acting on fresh insights is the route to continuous improvement.
Hiring an experienced hand can bring new ideas and working practices into your business. That person's skills, perspectives and expertise should complement and extend the digital knowledge of your company. Consider appointing an internal champion as well, to live and breathe the challenges your organization faces to overcome embedded cultural behaviors.
Whatever approach you choose to evaluate your offering, build on what is unique for your customers and how you will remain necessary and relevant to them. If you don’t, chances are you will lose out to a digital upstart, a cheaper alternative from overseas or the looming shadow of automation — the triggers why you implemented an omnichannel strategy in the first place.
Build Evolution into the Business Process
Organizations must structure themselves to be nimble enough to force changes to happen ahead of demand. This requires:
- Support from the C-Suite for initiatives
- An understanding that meaningful transformations confront changing business drivers, not just technology changes
- A common platform to view your customers and your data frequently, to signal where to double down to maximize growth opportunities
The above suggestions will appeal to companies “of a certain age and size,” because digital disruptors — built on software as a service (SaaS) technologies — rarely have issues making sweeping internal changes.
Companies with scale, history, business units and geographic spread are the ones that suffer the most from disjointed working practices.
A movement is afoot to make the system of record a common back-office shared service. A global company can then benefit from economies of scale and get closer to a unified single source of truth around the customer. Once that is achieved, the local entities can shape propositions at a local level to a local audience, but share the lessons with the wider group through the shared infrastructure.
These may include:
- Talking to passionate engineers, designers or product owners and collecting their insights on the topic they know better than any other. Use that “interview” (preferably filmed — at least on a mobile), as the starting point for bringing a global audience up to date with a local experiment or success story related to your omnichannel strategy. This is repurposing the Periscope/Instagram offer for the enterprise, where you get your workforce learning via short-form video.
- Gaining visibility on omnichannel success metrics and key performance indicators through personalized and engaging dashboards (designed and set up in conjunction with the dashboard viewer). This can bring real-time meaning and global visibility to an initiative people are motivated to follow.
- As mentioned before, enlisting an external perspective as a way to focus attention on important changes to everyday operations, and then implement the agreed changes. If the engagement is planned (and paid for) to last six weeks, then it has a funny way of getting the attention it deserves. Consider this example: Paying someone else to fix your roof gets the roof fixed. If you take the roof project on yourself, chances are you’ll find yourself trying to get through another winter with “a few leaks” here and there.
Keep the Customer at the Core
Talking directly (and listening intently) with your customers on a regular, ongoing basis is the most important factor for success.
Take app usage as an example: You might ask questions such as, “When was the last time you downloaded an app? What prompted you to do it? What was your expectation and did the app meet it?” From these questions and others, you might conclude that your users have become blasé about mobile in general.
Maybe you conclude that your users demand new knowledge — they want their fingers to know immediately what to do without engaging their brains. Channels (and the devices which access them) are becoming blurred — so be good, relevant, personal and useful on all devices and rise to the typical user challenge of any software these days: “Show-me-you-know-me.”
Netflix has revealed that 75 percent of its users select movies based on Netflix recommendations — suggestions formulated by mapping their previous choices to current ones on offer. Can you improve the quality of personalizing the content for your users and save them the trouble of trying to find it themselves?
Customer expectations and needs are always changing. Although it’s impossible to perfect your omnichannel strategy to deliver the ultimate user experience, you can commit to making it better all the time.
You do this by putting the right structure in place, incorporating external perspectives and engaging with the people who actually use the product to make it better.
Title image Christian Langballe