:: By Shampa Bagchi, ConvergeHub ::
These days, customers expect a world-class customer experience. Customers want to engage directly with brands and they want their voices heard now more than ever. With so many digital businesses created each and every day, it’s essential that brands create an unforgettable customer experience that touches the customer at each point and increases loyalty and trust.
Think about how easy it is for the customer to just type in a competitor’s domain and purchase from them instead. It’s way too easy.
That’s why systems have to be in place to ensure that brands have a complete 360-degree view of the customer and all touchpoints align with business goals and the overall omnichannel experience.
What is omnichannel?
By definition, omnichannel is a cross-channel business model that companies use to increase customer experience.
The omnichannel experience usually involves providing customers with multiple avenues to purchase from brands or make contact with them. Customers expect all channels to be connected and each channel that they engage with to be a seamless encounter that directly connects with the rest of the brand.
Take social media, for example, these days customers reach out via social media to engage with brands, leave comments about their experience as well as suggestions or concerns about products or services. Customers want companies to engage with them via social media too instead of just at the point of purchase. They want a continuous conversation, this helps them build trust and loyalty. Continuous positive conversation can significantly increase the lifetime customer value -- it pays to provide a seamless and positive customer experience.
It’s important to be well-connected, positive, engaging and consistent across all channels whether the brand has a brick-and-mortar business or a digital one. The customer may not remember a product or service but they will remember their experience with the brand – so it’s important to make it a good one.
Providing an omnichannel experience
Now that we’ve touched on what omnichannel is, here’s how to streamline processes and create a seamless customer experience. There are a number of ways to do this. All of the things mentioned below can be achieved with a customer relationship management (CRM) solution.
CRMs help manage sales, marketing, billing and support with one unified platform. The difference between converged CRMs and integrated CRMs is that "converged" CRMs are built from scratch from a single database whereas "integrated" CRMs are often pieced together with different databases that weren’t designed to work with one another (which makes for a detached user experience and increased learning curve).
Here are some ways to provide a great omnichannel experience:
A CRM will give a full 360-degree view of each customer. Brands will be able to see a long running history of every single action performed on their account since inception. Some actions that can be tracked are outbound emails, phone calls, marketing communications received, documents stored and other interactions.
Having a CRM that stores all information in a single database ensures that the customer profile is 100 percent there and brands can make informed business decisions about future marketing campaigns, product releases and other efforts.
Through open API, brands can connect their e-commerce platform with a CRM to send purchase data. This will help them tailor their marketing communications based on what their customers purchased, what they might be most interested in purchasing next and more.
The data can also help them assess how loyal a customer is. The same integration can help them track how frequently a customer has bought from them, which can help brands put together some type of customer loyalty program. Rewarding those who spend a lot of money will heavily increase brand loyalty and increase the lifetime customer value.
Brands would also be able to see who responded to a certain marketing campaign whether the response came from an email broadcast, social broadcast or a direct mail broadcast. Each marketing activity is tracked with key metrics that will set the business up for success in the future and help brands craft the perfect experience for their customers.
Sales are important for every business. After all, none of the stuff we’re talking about would have any meaning if sales weren’t coming in the door – the business has to survive.
There are a number of ways a CRM can help facilitate a great omnichannel experience and help you increase sales.
For example, brands can connect their website with a CRM. They can place a Web form on their site that feeds directly back into the CRM. This decreases the time they spend manually entering data into the system and reconciling between two different databases. But, this also helps customers engage with the brand in a seamless way.
If the business has some sort of checklist that customers need to do before a sale is complete, they can also create a form for this and place it on their website. Brands can also email an one-line code to their customers to fill this out. All of this helps in closing the final sale.
Brands can send personalized emails to certain customers, leaves notes or comments or previous conversations and follow-up with their customers regularly through a CRM. Again, all of this facilitates the overall seamless customer experience.
Getting a customer is half the battle, keeping one is another half of the battle.
In a converged CRM, the customer service piece is included. A ticketing system is often included and can be connected to a support email or brought in through a Web form that’s placed on the brand’s site. Brands can respond directly to their customers without the headache of having to keep up with an inbox and another system. Everything can integrate so that there’s only one system to manage.
Brands can also use the knowledge base within the CRM to store canned responses. This is essential for speedy reply to customer tickets. Brands can create canned responses out of FAQs and close tickets out promptly.
Wrapping Things Up
The omnichannel experience involves a well-thought out system to ensure the brand message is consistent across channels but to also engage with customers at all touchpoints. To do this, brands must invest in the technology that makes it happen.
About the Author
Shampa Bagchi is Founder and CTO of ConvergeHub, the #1 easiest converged CRM that can manage all sales, marketing, support, and billing needs of a small or medium business.
Follow ConvergeHub on Twitter at @convergehub.