Omni-Channel or Omni-Chaos? Getting The Customer Experience Right

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What happens when a prospect or customer comes into contact with you? Expectations are high. And they're getting higher. Whether online on a digital platform, in a brick and mortar store, or in traditional media environment, your message, content and experience is expected to be seamless, meaningful and fulfilling.

Marketers were once obsessed with customer satisfaction. And satisfaction of course remains a critical metric today. But as mobile moves in as an increasingly dominant marketing platform, things are changing. The result? A new emphasis now exists that focuses on delivering exceptional and measurable customer experience.

Companies create and deliver that experience on a broad variety of platforms, whether they want to or not. The customer increasingly has total control over how they will interact with you. All marketing channels essentially lie in the palm of your prospect’s hand. Your company may present well in person, but may have a mediocre mobile presence and a nearly non-existence capacity on Pinterest or other social media. The former is great. The latter can diminish sales and bruise brands.

All these experiences add up. Instead of a single marketing channel to contend with, your company or organization now has many.

And thus emerges the omni-channel experience.

That phenomenon holds true for B2B prospects as well as B2C. If a prospect researches a product in your category, they default to their personal media preference, be it digital, print, video or other. They likely will first touch your brand online in a mobile environment. It’s a good bet that they’ll want to see a video outlining the benefits of your product or service. If they like what they see, they will likely re-engage on a PC or MAC. Or, believe it or not, they may actually pick up a phone (or tap their smartphone app) and call your office or call center. Then, whoever (person) or whatever (voice mail robot) answers that call contributes to and directly impacts that experience.

All of these add up to the literal journey your prospect or customer takes. The sum of all of this represents the experience that you deliver to your prospect or customer.

According to recent Telco 2.0 research, depending on the type of product or service, about 65% of prospects and customers will start on a mobile device, then re-engage on a PC. Depending on the complexity of the service (or whether the purchase/consumption is routine or non-routine, such as one-time purchase that costs a lot of money or that has a long sales cycle), many will engage again on a tablet, which has more viewing real estate and flexibility than a small-screen smartphone. Some still want to touch the product in person before buying.

The main point: we all live and work in a multi-channel environment. Successful omni-channel marketing takes place when everything is planned out and done right. Do it wrong – leave out critical channels or don’t have consistent messaging or more – and you have omni-chaos. Prospects flee at the sight or experience of omni-chaos.

By now you likely already have some marketing automation software in place. Maybe it’s all running smoothly. Maybe it’s not. And you’re probably already into analytics – at least of some sort. Both digital realms represent critical pathways toward success. The great point is that you’re in the game. You’ve already started. (If you’re not, there’s still time – like today.)

So whether you’ve embraced omni-channel strategies or getting ready to, here’s some general thoughts to tune things up:

Remember that it’s your prospect’s journey and experience, not yours. Test your engagement and buying process. What do your prospects experience at every step?

Get measurement and data metrics in place upfront. What constitutes success? What critical success factors do you need to know more about from your prospects?

Use that market data and other information to develop real and useful customer journeys. How do your prospects and customers find out about you and your products? What’s the map or journey that they experience (or in some cases, endure) as they progress toward a sale or adoption? Try to formalize that in a meaningful way through segmentation and prospect profiles. That information can strategically drive the creation of new campaigns and landing pages that are attractive and meaningful to your prospects.

Remember that it’s all about content. Useful content. Content that transforms. Great content drives sales and adoption. Bad, incomplete or irrelevant content repels. And don’t forget that you need to match your content tone and style to specific platform characteristics. Facebook content is different from LinkedIn, Instagram, or other social media platforms. Ditto for blogs and video.

Every touch point is part of your prospect or customer journey and experience. Broaden that experience delivery to include how your phone is answered and who answers it. When a prospect actually talks to a sales person or representative, what’s that experience like? How can it be improved?

Finally, listen and respond! Digital marketing offers near-instantaneous opportunities to develop key relationships with prospects and influencers. Seize those opportunities.

Omni-channel isn't easy, although successful development and implementation can make it look easy. Spend the time needed to do it right – avoid omni-chaos and reap the rewards.

Michael Snyder is managing principal of MEK, a PR, marketing, and digital firm based in Carmel, Indiana.

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