US-based luxury furniture manufacturer, Value City Furniture was experiencing sleepless nights. Heavy investment with no traction left them vulnerable, while the trepidation of getting things moving enticed them to try new things.
The giant furniture manufacturer created a platform and named it Easy Pass. The platform bridged the data gap between online carts and physical stores. Customers could browse products online, add them to cart and request salesmen at physical stores to brief about the product. The effective use of technology back then helped the company register a staggering growth of 283% in revenue and an impressive drop in abandonment rate.
Little did people at Value City Furniture knew that their sophisticated paradigm—omnichannel customer experience—will become mainstream and be the reason why companies like Disney and Amazon will rule the Internet.
What is Omnichannel Customer Experience?
For a customer, omnichannel experience is made up of multiple individual touchpoints that converge at a point to help customers continue browsing from where they left irrespective of the platform they are currently on.
For organizations, omnichannel experience is a cross-channel content strategy that businesses use to meet users at the varied touchpoint. Omnichannel is one single route that allows organizations to assist customers at all steps of their journey.
For customer service agents, omnichannel offers them a bird-eye view of the customer journey. The bird-eye help agents identify the product or service the customer wants the help with. Designed innately, these bird-eye views assist agents to identify the channels a customer used for payment, raising queries and receiving solutions.
To achieve omnichannel expertise, organizations need to identify and overcome functional silos. Small businesses easily develop omnichannel expertise because they have smaller units and limited users, which allows them to experiment with structural changes.
An Accenture study reveals, 88% of customers get frustrated having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives, which explains why organizations need to invest in omnichannel customer experience management. A multi-modal approach to catering to the same customer on the varied channel without any gap is referred to as omnichannel customer service.
Why Omnichannel is of Paramount Importance Now?
Everyone from CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to marketing gurus is discussing omnichannel. At marketing events, omnichannel is mentioned more times than all the attendees put together.
While omnichannel stands for delivering a seamless experience, it also sanctions additional benefits like:
It Saves Time: When organizations invest in omnichannel capabilities, they leverage users with the freedom of browsing products from anywhere at any time. Also, 77% of customers are likely to buy from a company that helps them save time.
Since 71% of customers do not want to repeat their problem again and again to multiple agents over an array of platforms. By integrating Omnichannel capabilities in customer service organizations can allow customers to get their queries resolved faster.
It Empower Users: 89% of customers are likely to engage with a brand that allows them to shop flexibly. Well, in 2017, 50% of all e-commerce transaction was from mobile devices. Also, companies that allow customers to shop from multiple channels have 30% higher CLV than the ones who don’t.
How E-commerce Businesses can Leverage Omnichannel Expertise?
E-commerce, Logistics and the Fintech industry are growing at 23%, 11%, and 7.1% respectively. E-commerce alone can be credited for the boom it brought in for Fintech and Logistics. Fintech’s growth is powered by peer-to-peer transactions but it was e-commerce that pushed customers to get incessant with the mobile-based payment system.
E-commerce marketplaces have coaxed the logistics industry to develop technological capabilities that allow users to track their packages in real-time. E-commerce has leveraged the potential growth in Fintech and Logistics industry to help customers keep on top of all payments and packages in transit.
E-commerce players like Amazon, Alibaba and Groupon have used omnichannel expertise to acquire and retain customers. Leveraging omnichannel capabilities across the buyer’s journey has helped industry leaders build an unbeatable reputation.
How E-commerce Players Can Think “Omnichannel”?
By delivering a seamless experience across the channels, e-commerce organizations can reduce their churn rate and earn increased CSAT ratings. Below are the 3 areas where omnichannel can come in handy for e-commerce organizations:
- Customer Service
With 85% of customers willing to pay extra for an improved experience, e-commerce players have hit jackpot. Marketplaces like Amazon introduced Prime program that charges customers to offer an improved customer experience. For the meager subscription fee charged, customers are provided with multiple benefits clubbed together, customers think they are winning but it is the marketplaces that win.
Amazon Prime, for example, offers free music, access to movies from around the world along with unlimited one-day and free deliveries. While the relation between subscription packages and omnichannel customer experience is not-so-direct but it is an exceptional example of garnering benefits by invoking a sense of fear of missing out among the customers.
Technological advancements are blurring the line between real life and online experiences. E-commerce players are leveraging these nuanced advancements to offer an experience that improves customer satisfaction and reflects positively in CLV numbers.
Document Management: E-commerce players have struggled a lot furnishing the know-your-customer compliance documents. For example, if Amazon decided to collect KYC documents from all its customers, its agent will have to visit over 100 million Prime customers alone. Imagine the plight of collecting, documenting, verifying and managing these 100 million+ documents.
Bank of America is a forerunner financial institution that holds roughly 30% of the market and up to 11% of the entire deposit. Through just one mobile-based app, Bank of America allowed its users to check balance, raise transaction requests and get checks processed. It was perhaps the first time that a bank was accepting photos of the check as legit.
Later, E-commerce players started relying on the same technology for KYC verifications. Once documents are uploaded online, it is cross-verified with data available with the government, in the coming times, the same technology can be implemented on varied fronts to facilitate a smoother shopping experience.
Source: Bank of America
Be it finding a cab or ordering food, relying on geo-tagging helps aggregators assign the closest driver or delivery agent. Smart use of GPS has ushered online businesses to create an exceptional customer experience.
E-commerce players can take a cue from aggregators and leverage geo-tagging for offering an out of box customer experience. Many existing players are already relying on the GPS network to help customers receive products faster.
Online stores are informing people about the availability of products at the nearest shops or kiosks and offering them an opportunity to pick it up on way to work. Users can browse products and pay for it on the app and pick it up if they need it at the earliest.
Here’s how geotagging can be used for improving the overall experience:
- Assigning the closest technician with the job of assembling a newly delivered TV.
- Faster and easier return pickup by agents closest to the pickup address.
An Invespcro study revealed, 30% of all products ordered online are returned. 22% of products were returned due to mistakes by retailers whereas 24% of products were returned because they looked different from the site.
To combat return rates and increase customer satisfaction, Lenskart, an Indian eyewear retail chain implemented 3D Try On feature on their online store. 3D Try On feature is powered by Augmented Reality technology that helped customers visualize how a particular frame will look on them.
Other e-commerce players can leverage AR technology to offer a clear understanding of the product beforehand, leading to minimized return rates and increased customer satisfaction.
eBay launched the world’s first virtual reality department store, with over 12,500 products available for viewing in 3D. Here are some of the highlights of the VR store:
- Inventory list and pricing are updated in real-time
- Customers just need to stare at “add to cart” button to put products in the cart
- User’s get a 3D view of the product, which helps in identifying the right product
Offering omnichannel customer service requires organizations to develop an integration between text, email, calls, and social media. The integration between multiple channels will create a unified brand experience allowing users to switch channels as per their convenience and receive a similar experience.
Here are some strategies organizations can leverage to create an unbeatable omnichannel customer service strategy:
32% of customers want their queries answered within 30 minutes. For companies that have millions of customers, catering to all within 30 minutes through text, chat or call will require thousands of agents but with social media, a limited number of agents can cater to millions of customers.
A study that monitored an airline’s Twitter customer service, where all queries were answered within 6 minutes reveals:
- Speedy response helps control customer churn
- Impacts customer satisfaction positively
- Increases the customer lifetime value by $20
In an independent study, it was found that “99% of all text messages are read”. Text messages are not only easy to configure but it also doubles as a two-way street. Businesses can not only let customers reach them via text messages but they can also answer queries and keep customers updated through text messages.
BFSI and Fintech organizations have leveraged the hidden power of text messaging like no other industry and here’s what we learn from them:
- Use text messages to keep customers updated about their orders or queries.
- Integrate auto-responder with text messages to help customers request updates like account balance, bill due dates and ETA of products.
- Use text messages to alert customers about potentially fraudulent transactions.
- Provide instant updates and increase the customer satisfaction rate.
As we mentioned earlier, 77% of customers are likely to buy from businesses that help them save time, well, another study by Forrester reveals, “63% of visitors will revisit sites that have Live Chat enabled”. Live Chat now only personalizes the overall experience but it helps customers get to the desired product or page faster.
Food & Cab aggregator companies have struck gold with Live Chat. Their real-time assistance has helped customers improve their buying decision and now 44% of users want to be assisted in real-time via Live Chat while buying things online.
The additional benefits of implementing Live Chat are
- It reduces the overall bounce rate, which means customers visit more than one page on your site.
- Offers up-selling opportunities.
- Reduced wait time and instant gratification increase the overall CSAT and CLV.
Just like social media, an email is also a great tool for responding to customers instantly. With email, enterprises can use the additional space to promote other products or provide a detailed account of the query.
For the e-commerce industry, email works wonder and help with customer retention and retargeting. With 56% of open rate related to cart abandonment and 26% conversion rate Email is a win-win tool for e-commerce players.
To create an incomparable customer experience, e-commerce players need to leverage social media as part of omnichannel marketing. By reaching out to customers through varied mediums like email, social media and push notifications with unique content for the same product, businesses can create a fear of missing out.
Retargeting: While email makes for the best tool to control the cart abandonment rate, it can also be leveraged as a product recommendation tool. Abandoned product emails have a 45% open rate, which also impacts the overall conversion rate.
Here’s how retargeting helps in creating an exceptional customer experience:
- Retargeting the customers who viewed a product with User Generated Content on social media work wonders. Companies can showcase a video review submitted by a user to impress potential users.
- Retargeting users with newer versions or better offers on email and social media can control the overall churn rate.
Product Recommendations: Gauging the products customer interacts with and then creating a campaign around it will go a long way. Personalized recommendations increase customer’s attention span and control churn. Such smart use will usher e-commerce players towards greater success in creating an exceptional customer experience.
Using Discounts to improve Experience: Industry players have tried it and nascent players can experiment with it too. Encouraging customers to use a specific platform or payment mode by offering a discount is a great way of improving customer experience.
Through discount e-commerce stores can introduce customers to mobile apps and online payment methods that tend to offer a better experience. Flipkart, a leading Indian marketplace offers up to a 5% extra discount when customers pay online.
A Temkin Group study states “investing in customer experience innovations can double revenue in 36 months”. With so much riding on customer experience, ignoring it is like setting yourself up for failure.
Small userbase and up notch methodologies helped small businesses take a head start in offering quality experience but big players have finally caught up. By leveraging state-of-the-art technology and acquiring small players that specialize in optimizing the customer experience, industry leaders have leveled the battlefield.
50% of companies are already redirecting their marketing funds towards customer experience innovations, which makes customer experience the biggest brand differentiator. E-commerce players have all the state-of-the-art technologies in their satchel and a young user base that craves innovation. By taking one step at a time, they can succeed at creating an experience that makes them stand out like Amazon and Disney.