Most people think the terms "multichannel" and "omnichannel" are interchangeable. It’s not. We’ll be primarily focusing on the difference between the two and then look at how businesses use them, and finally discuss the role a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in your omnichannel strategy and business growth.
What is an Omnichannel Strategy?
An omnichannel strategy essentially outlines how a business intends to offer a seamless and connected customer experience across multiple channels like app, in-store, website, social media etc. This creates an immersive and uninterrupted experience by putting the customer at the core. It removes the boundaries between channels and offers customers the freedom to move in and out of channels at any point and yet continue their journey sans any interruptions.
Why Omnichannel Experiences Should Be Your Ultimate Goal
According to HBR, customers who experienced an omnichannel shopping experience had logged 23% more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s stores and were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than those who used a single channel.
Today, more than ever, it's vital for a brand to have an effective omnichannel strategy. According to a research, brands with a strong omnichannel customer engagement strategy retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared with 33% for companies with weak omnichannel strategies.
Positive impact on customer retention and sales aside, perhaps the biggest advantage of an omnichannel strategy is that makes your business agile and flexible. Even new channels emerge and customer behaviour changes, an omnichannel brand can adapt and evolve faster compared to multichannel businesses. We live in a digital era defined by hyper-connectedness where consumers are constantly reading reviews, checking product features, comparing prices and making purchases across multiple platforms like social media, website, mobile app and in-store. This trend is likely to increase even further with the launch of faster connectivity options like 5G and the large scale adoption of IoT devices.
Any brand which wants to stay relevant and succeed in this digital era needs to adopt an omnichannel strategy.
The Role of CRM in Omnichannel Orchestration
CRM has come a long way from its humble origins as a back-office tool managing contacts and customers. Today’s advanced CRM can enable cross channel engagement and leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and services like chat bots to create highly personalized customer experiences.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is at the very core of your efforts to enable new brand strategies, integrate the latest technologies, and keep up with new customer experience trends. A CRM system also lays the foundation for success for your sales team, your marketing team, and your customer service team.
CRM affords the opportunity to stay connected to your existing customers on an ongoing basis and empowers you to provide outstanding customer service. It allows your sales and marketing team to be able to effectively find, score, nurture, and track leads, and connect with prospects with the right message at the right time in their individual customer journeys.
Checklist for Choosing an Omnichannel CRM
Although there exists a plethora of vendors who claim to offer full fledged omnichannel CRM solutions, most of them are simply multi-channel automation softwares which are unable to connect the customer journeys in a truly omnichannel way. To help you quickly evaluate the different omnichannel CRM solution, we have segregated the elements into Stakeholders & Features
Take into account the human factor in your omnichannel strategy
While it’s great to engage with your customers across multiple channels, many businesses miss out on a crucial factor in the omnichannel mix - the people who form the part of a CX ecosystem - customers, agents & managers.
While AI and automation is being increasingly implemented across brand-customer interactions, there will always be moments that require the skills of a human agent. At this point, your omnichannel CRM platform must be able to seamlessly make the switch to provide a clear escalation paths to human intervention.
An effective omnichannel CRM solution should be able to extend the same consistency and seamless experience to your agents as it does to the customer. This translates to complete visibility of cross-channel interaction history. The agents should also be able to use a single interface for all operations and not need to switch between platforms to handle the different channels.
The CRM should serve as the single source of truth for all customer interactions and data. This allows managers to implement KPIs based on timely insights for applying training, forecasting and scheduling to enhance the customer experience.
Essential features of an omnichannel CRM software
Universal Customer Data Platform
An omnichannel CRM platform should be able to collect and organize your entire customer data on a universal dashboard, regardless of whether the information was entered into a webform, at in-store checkout, a loyalty program form or on a social media platform. This universal management system forms the core of your omnichannel strategy and ensures seamless synergies across sales, marketing, and customer service teams. Certain CRM platforms are also capable of automatically updating databases based on newer inputs, lets say, from a submission or email form.
Automated & Centralized Campaign Management
This is a critical feature that ensures your customer engagement across channels are personalized, relevant and synchronized. The ultimate goal here is to offer customers the right information at the right time via the right channel to get them interested in your brand or product. The hallmark of a great campaign management platform is the integrated campaign automation — this means that every step of the campaign takes place within the same interface and doesn’t require users to bounce around between systems. It should also support the ability to assign multiple content and collaterals to the same campaign (eg:- landing pages, banners, webforms etc.) and manage them from a single screen.
The CRM should be able to support hyper-personalized, dynamic offers at any point in the customer purchase journey. According to research, real-time, contextual offers have 4X conversion & redemption rates compared to static coupons. The key to enabling real-time engagement is to have a Single view of the customer journey and build contexts based on previous behaviours and purchase patterns
An omnichannel CRM should offer the ability to orchestrate customer engagement across both offline and online channels. It should be able to integrate with your loyalty program software, in-store analytics systems, customer` support systems and any other key customer touch points. Ultimately, the end goal of an omnichannel CRM is to enable connected, multi-channel engagement.
Essential features of an omnichannel CRM software
Ultimately, it's not the features that make a CRM, but how those features empowers you to infuse customer interactions with empathy and brand personality. This will be critical in a world where customers assume convenience and speed as a given.Talk to a Retail Expert