Have you ever called a business with a query, only to call back another time and get a different person with a different answer? Not only is this deeply frustrating, it starts to make you question the credibility of the business and forces you to take yet another avenue of inquiry to establish what the real answer actually is. I’ve cancelled contracts with companies for these sorts of shenanigans, because I simply lost the confidence I needed to spend my hard-earned money with them.

In today’s day and age, there are a myriad of ways you can interact with a brand or company, be it a phone contact centre, email, website enquiry, social media, a digital app, or the good ol’ fashioned human in a ‘bricks and mortar’ store. And while it may feel convenient to have so many opportunities to engage, that’s only the case if the experience across all channels is the same.

So, today I want to discuss omni-channel engagement – the approach that’ll offer your customers a seamless and confident experience with your business, whichever way they choose to interact with you.

Omni-channel versus multi-channel

Before you relax in the knowledge your customers have multiple channels through which to contact you, I want to explain a very clear and important difference between multi-channel engagement and omni-channel engagement.

Multi-channel engagement literally gives customers the opportunity to interact with your business by selecting a communications channel they are most comfortable with. While this is a good step forward in customer service from forcing a customer to visit your store, or wait on hold for 30 minutes on a phone call, in a multi-channel approach, the teams assigned to each channel work in silos. They have set information to communicate back to customers and no immediate avenue to cross-check, or re-direct customers to more qualified support. In 2021, customers won’t stand for this.

It’s the omni-channel approach that your customer is hoping for when they reach for the phone, keyboard or mobile app. In this instance, all the communications channels a business offers to its customers are inter-connected, providing continuity, familiarity and the guarantee that a solution or answer will be available first time.

The personal approach

As well as offering customers a seamless experience that builds their confidence in your brand and business and allows them to interact with you the way they want to, omni-channel also allows you to offer meaningful and long-lasting personal experiences.

By making a customer’s data, purchase history and engagement record available to employees working on any engagement channel, a business can go beyond basic personalisation attempts, like using a first name in an email, to establish more meaningful communications, such as product recommendations based on a customer’s previous purchases.  It gives a customer the sense they are ‘known’, respected and valued.

The events of the past year and half, which have forced many to isolate and live much smaller, lonelier lives, mean customers crave personalised interactions and will reward this with their custom.

Start with what you can manage

There is no sense in acquiring 10 communications channels, giving them all access to a repository of information and calling it an omni-channel approach, because you still won’t get the desired customer engagement you’re seeking. Here are the four things you need if you’re considering omni-channel.

  1. A central data hub that can pull together any individual customer’s information, in real time, from whichever of your channels they engage with.
  2. The capability to create a single profile for each customer which is updated in real-time every single time they engage with your business or product,  regardless of where or how they do this.
  3. The tools to communicate information seamlessly and simultaneously, across multiple channels, to deliver personalised communications based on individual customer preferences.
  4. A customer service culture. Digital tools and capabilities can transform the way customers interact with your business, but the human interactions they get through their desired channel is what will seal the deal. Embed a culture of service within your teams. 

Want to understand more?

Our teams at Grow NZ Marketing have crafted and implemented omni-channel engagement strategies for many kiwi companies with great success.

Whether you’re dipping your toes in the omni-channel waters, or want to perfect the omni-channel systems you’ve already got, we can help.
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