The basic idea behind omni-channel strategy is the reduction or elimination of customer experience fragmentation. Below are some examples of fragmentation from the most simple and obvious, to the more complex and inconspicuous:
- A company’s mobile site design, color schema and navigation are not the same/similar to its website. Customers may feel that they have accessed a different company’s site;
- A customer, who is in store or on an e-commerce product page, cannot find customer reviews they need to make an informed purchasing selection;
- An internal change in a company’s financial policy impacts its enterprise customers’ projects delivery schedules.
These examples are certainly not an exhaustive list of customer experience fragmentation scenarios, but all of them have one thing in common – they all are by-products of out-dated business process design methodologies. The process design methods of the past did not take into consideration the perspective of the customer. They were focused, entirely or mostly, on the needs of an enterprise for scaling its growth. The outstanding successes of customer-centric companies have made the rest to pay more attention to customer experience improvement methods. Unfortunately, too many think that an omni-channel strategy is a set of technology tools. Yet, the success of implementation and adoption of such strategy largely depends on a company’s culture and it’s leadership’s dedication to customer-centricity.
If you see the world and its markets from the perspective of your company and your company’s set of products, no technology can help you to unify customer experience. Even a subset of fragmented customer experience causes, that are within a company’s control and technological capabilities, cannot be successfully eliminated because of cultural problems. I am referring to dreadful, departmental silos challenges that were supposed to be defeated by CRM, Data Warehouses, Business Intelligence and other technology “solutions”.
Make no mistake, a real change cannot be made without the leverage of technology, but technology cannot deliver the change without, changing the company’s cultural focus first.
When companies think customer experience they need to think omni. Its not about your customers or their customers, its about all customers. If a brand wants to start thinking omnichannel, then they need to be open and involved in making the customer’s experience continuous and universal.
When the focus changes to a customer’s perspective of your company and products, the technology “toolbox” would have to include Big Data. Big Data is not about volume, size or velocity of data – neither of which are easily translated into financial results for most businesses. It is about the integration of external sources of information and unstructured data into a company’s IT infrastructure and business processes.
Omni-channel strategy requires visibility into the customer journey, even when it continues outside the touch points of your company. If this visibility is not available, you continue to navigate the “seas” of the market with old school instruments like the compass, chronometer and sextant. Meanwhile, leaders like Amazon and Netflix, master the use of GPS and Chart plotters to accurately predict changes they need to make to their products, processes and touch points. That mastery helps them to expand their lead in the markets by providing a superior customer experience.