In a customer-centric market, a seamless customer experience is vital. Therefore, to eliminate the risk of losing customers to competitors, it’s essential that businesses give customers what they want and expect.
Years ago, it was simple. Customer service teams basically had phone and SMS as channels to contend with to ensure a polished customer experience.
Nowadays, there’s a multitude of channels from phone, email, web chat to social media, and SMS. What makes it more complicated is that all customers have different preferences when it comes to communication. And to give customers what they want, it's essential to communicate with them the way they prefer it.
When it comes to managing the customer experience, it's difficult to know which approach is best for a specific business. Because of all the communication channels mentioned above, a multichannel approach has become common.
Multichannel approach means that businesses provide the customer experience through phone calls, and often add new systems for handling social media interaction, email, and so on. Traditional CRMs were the ideal tools to handle all these forms of communications.
There where it wasn’t, businesses often used another tool for that purpose. So, for example a business might use a CRM for their telephone and email communications but have a social media platform to manage their social media interactions.
But here's the problem. Over time many businesses have realized that this isn't the most efficient approach there is. This is simply because of the sheer number of platforms and interactions daily between businesses and their customers. So, to provide a seamless experience to customers, it's time to take another approach. Here, the answer is an omnichannel approach.
But what is an omnichannel approach? And how does it work? This post will look at these questions in more detail and show why an omnichannel experience in B2B is better than a multichannel one.
What Is an Omnichannel Experience?
A formal definition for an omnichannel experience is that it is a multichannel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience irrespective of which channel or where the customer reaches out.
In simple terms, an omnichannel approach allows a business to communicate with a customer on the platform or through the channel where the customer prefers. Ultimately, this results in a seamless customer experience for both customers and employees. In other words, customers communicate on the platforms they want while employees always have a customer’s data available, no matter the channel.
Multichannel vs Omnichannel
Although many people think that multichannel and omnichannel experiences are the same and often use the terms interchangeably, they’re not. There are some distinct differences between the two and how they’re used.
At their core, they both allow businesses to manage the customer experience. They differ in the way they approach this task. A Multichannel approach is what most companies use for managing their customer experience today. This approach often consists of a corporate website, a blog, email marketing platform, social media channels, call center, and more.
In most instances, these channels are being used separately. So, marketing may use the email marketing platform and social media channels, while customer service uses the call center and a CRM.
When using this approach, there’s no connection, collaboration, or integration between any of these channels. In simple terms, a multichannel approach is when for marketing, sales, and service channels are used independently of each other to enhance the customer experience. In contrast, the omnichannel experience integrates all these channels to form a cohesive customer experience no matter what channel the customer uses or prefers to use.
An omnichannel approach sounds far better than a multichannel approach. There are, however, some benefits to using a multichannel approach. For one, because teams are responsible for managing their channel, they have a clear understanding of their goals and responsibilities. Another big benefit is that if one channel goes down, the other channels won't be affected. Ultimately, this means that customers will always have a way to contact and communicate with the company.
Unfortunately, where there are benefits, there are often also drawbacks, and multichannel experiences are no exception. The main drawback of a multichannel experience is that, because different teams manage different channels, it can lead to an inconsistent customer experience. Also, because teams manage different channels, there can be a duplication of effort in respect of a single customer. Not only is this inefficient, but it's also prone to errors.
This can also result in a situation where a customer’s data may be locked away by one team. For example, the customer care team might be in possession of certain data, while the same data is not available to the marketing team. It's also far easier to manage one system than many. So, where a company uses different channels and different tools, each of these tools must be maintained. This takes time, effort, and money.
What Kind of Advantages Omnichannel Approach Brings to Organizations?
An omnichannel approach effectively eliminates all the drawbacks of a multichannel approach.
Here, some of the benefits it offers include:
- It's best for customer service agents because all interactions with customers are handled in one platform. This means agents no longer have to switch between platforms or look for siloed data between systems as part of their daily activities. This saves a massive amount of time.
- Staff only have to learn how to use one platform. Agents, salespeople, customer servants and marketers now only need to know how one platform works instead of having to work several platforms.
- It provides a seamless experience between all a company’s communication channels. This results in a better customer experience. The fact is that customers today are willing to pay more for a better experience but, as a result of this, they also have higher expectations and an omnichannel experience is fully capable of meeting these expectations.
- Customer data is captured easier because it’s all managed in one place. This means, unlike older systems, if a marketer captures a customer's information, it's also visible to the sales department and the customer service department.
- An omnichannel approach uses automation extensively. Not only does this reduce manual tasks for agents, salespeople, and marketers, but it’s also able to drive communications with customers through automation. This provides a seamless customer experience and is also faster because customers no longer have to wait for someone to get back to them.
- No matter what channel the customer uses to communicate with the company, whether it’s email, live chat, phone or social media, their experience is identical. This offers customers a unified experience which is essential in a customer-centric market.
- With fewer systems and channels to manage and fewer platforms to learn, an omnichannel approach is far simpler than a multichannel approach. It also means that companies that use an omnichannel approach, only have one system they must maintain and update. This saves time and costs for the company.
- It’s far easier to scale one system than several systems. This means omnichannel experiences are infinitely scalable and can grow with a business without any major issues or headaches.
Ultimately, the key takeaway is that omnichannel experiences is about focusing on the customer. It provides a consistent, seamless customer experience across a variety of channels where the messaging is consistent, the look and feel is consistent, and the experience of the customer is consistent. So, this makes the process far more efficient and gives customers what they want and expect.
The Role of the Modern CRM in Omnichannel Experiences
A CRM solution plays a major role in an omnichannel experience. This is simply because a CRM gives businesses a complete view of each customer. This means all the data in respect of every interaction with every customer is recorded in the CRM. Businesses will then be able to see a history of every single action performed by and for the customer.
So no matter which platform or channel a customer prefers to use, all the data will always be available for anyone in the company to see. In other words, while the CRM does not create an omnichannel experience in itself, it's the tool that facilitates it. It contributes to the real-time operational insights across all channels and in some ways providing a channel to respond to them.
HubSpot, your favorite tool on your way towards omnichannel customer experience
HubSpot provides a comprehensive platform for managing the entire customer lifecycle. All data from marketing, sales & customer service is living under one umbrella. This way you make sure that all the customer-related data is always in the right place at the right time. We help our clients with versatile HubSpot CRM projects: from data architecture and process design to system onboarding with all the necessary integrations. We bring business and technology together. Want to hear more? Click below to book a session with our HubSpot CRM expert.