Omni-channel is still arguably the hottest buzzword in town right now and possibly the most misunderstood. But what does omni-channel marketing really mean and most importantly how does it manifest itself in terms of the customer experience?
There are many marketers who understandably confuse omni-channel and multi-channel marketing and some even use these terms synonymously. However, we believe that there are some very important distinctions between the two approaches.
While multi-channel tends to be based on an inside-out approach and takes a corporate perspective, we see omni-channel marketing as being focused on an outside-in approach, driven by the customer view of the world – taking into account where, when and how they wish to engage. In other words, an omni-channel approach puts the customer, not corporate silos or product orientation, at the centre of your strategy.
So what does an omni-channel experience actually look like? Think of multi-channel as individual racetracks running parallel to each other and omni-channel as a spider’s web with the customer right at the centre.
In the words of John Bowden, Senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable: “Multi-channel is an operational view – how you allow the customer to complete transactions in each channel. Omni-channel, however, is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent. Omni-channel anticipates that customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution. Making these complex ‘hand-offs’ between channels must be fluid for the customer. Simply put, omni-channel is multi-channel done right!”
Today, customers often follow disconnected journeys that span departments and touch points like the website, mobile app, social sphere and contact centres. Omni-channel customer engagement is about orchestrating consistent, personalised interactions and journeys across the customer lifecycle.
Without this intense customer focus, competitive advantages from products, distribution and even technological innovation tend to be fleeting, as they quickly become table stakes. To succeed you need to know your customers even better, including how they elect to interact with you. And that requires a deeper level of customer experience (CX) research.
For financial services providers, postponing the omni-channel marketing journey is no longer an option. As marketing author Seth Godin tells us: “The best time to start was a while ago. The second best time to start is today.”
Contact Financial Marketing now to find out how your customer experience can become your sustainable competitive advantage.