person holding a coffee cup and using a phone
A successful brand story depends on fulfilling user expectations on any screen and on any touchpoint. PHOTO: Jan Vasek

Second of a two-part series.

Today most of our customers and potential customers connect to the digital world with two or more devices that use multiple touchpoints, from websites to mobile applications.

But users don't see these various options as disparate parts. They view your brand as a single, cohesive entity — and so should you.

That means developing seamless user experiences that enable your customers and prospective customers to switch easily from one touchpoint to the next.

A successful brand story depends on fulfilling user expectations on any screen and on any touchpoint. It should be consistent, intelligent and personalized. This is where omnichannel communication hits its stride: It uses all the channels available to effectively reach and communicate with the user as well as to help brands delivering on customer commitments.

Connecting to Customers in Real Time

Brands create the best stories when they engage their audiences with useful content that is propagated at the right time via the right channel.

Your content is worthless unless your audience reads and uses it. And this is a challenge that an
omnichannel approach addresses.

Omnichannel brand storytelling provides noninvasive opportunities to distribute and reward the audience with valuable information, intuitive experiences and more. Brands can use these channels to promote stories of customer loyalty, to share customer promises they have fulfilled and most importantly, emphasize the mission that drives them to give the very best service to their customers.

Let's look at how Citibank does this.

If you have an account with Citibank, your banking activities are seamlessly shared across channels in real-time. Customers can choose to be notified by text or an automated phone call when transactions occur in their accounts.

This is a basic example how omnichannel approach works: What happens on one channel is seamlessly reflected on all others.

It shows us that if even basic useful information is provided at the right time via the right channel a user feels more secure and trusts the brand more.

Omnichannel Enhances the Usefulness of Your Product

A brand that can be accessed via any channel likely has a higher chance of succeeding than brands that are available on a single channel.

By offering customers options to connect on websites, mobile apps and in physical stores it makes your brand more accessible, convenient and ultimately more trustworthy.

Take Starbucks Rewards as an example, the coffee retailer's customer loyalty. I see it as one of the leading examples of how you can use omnichannel communication to keep customers add usefulness to your brand.

Starbucks provides customers with a reward card they can use when they buy from the brand. It enables customers to check in with their card as well as reload it via its website, mobile app or even in-store. Any cash-reload or change to the card is automatically updated across all channels, in real-time.

Say you are standing in a line at Starbucks when you realize your card has too few credits for you to buy a low-fat latte. You can reload the card via the Starbucks mobile app and the card will be instantly updated in time for you to pay for your purchase.

Apart from building a brand story, Starbucks has used omnichannel communication to drive customer loyalty.

Omnichannel Makes Brands More Accessible

One of the key strengths of a good brand story is its accessibility with regards to its audience and users.

Your brand should be accessible no matter where your users are or where they travel. A customer should be able to pick up his laptop or mobile phone to reach your store and your offerings.

The more points of connectivity you offer to your user, the better user engagement will be — and will also contribute to a better brand story.

Let's look at Amazon, which allows you to shop for almost everything online. It is world’s largest ecommerce brand and 18th on the list of Fortune500 companies.

A shopper might add a product in her Amazon cart from her laptop, then walk away from the purchase to have lunch. While having lunch, she might remember the item she planned to buy.

Because Amazon uses an omnichannel approach to update carts across all channels simultaneously, it’s already waiting in her cart on her mobile app. All she has to do is hit the buy button.

Amazon knows that users might lose interest if they are not able to reach out to the brand through their choice of device. Therefore, Amazon has developed a broad inventory of channels to make its ecommerce experience a joy to use.

Commit to Customer Connections

Brand storytelling takes time — sometimes years. But the payoff of deeper connections with your customers and potential customers means it is worth trying.

By telling engaging narratives and adopting omnichannel experiences, brands can grow relationships with their users and enhance their brand.