Omnichannel is Out: A Better Approach for Customer Engagement is In

Laura Heritage
by Laura Heritage 25 May, 2017

The basic premise of omnichannel is to make the right data available at the right time, to the right person, through the right channel - it can be a call center, website, mobile device, kiosk, branch or store. And the channels must be accessible throughout all of the various stages of customer interactions. From pre-purchase to purchase, delivery and post purchase. Therefore, becoming a window into the customer journey.



Omnichannel enables a glass barrier to form between you and the customer.


The creation of this window, an object that generally separates the inside from the outside, is where the problem with omnichannel lies - the approach becomes inside, looking out. Lines of businesses within an enterprise are typically looking out through their own windows, viewing a small sliver of their customer's journey instead of being a part of the experience. enterprise-centric

Enterprise centric (source: Axway).


Due to this enterprise-centric, inside-out approach, data that lies outside of a line of business is typically very difficult to get access to and leverage; and even more challenging is leveraging data from outside the enterprise. In this ultra-connected world, access to data is the key to meeting customer needs and staying competitive. Enterprises must be able to leverage data from within the company, as well as externally in order to participate in the customer experience. This means that enterprises must reorganize and take a customer-centric approach to be able to address new business models, new processes and new products and new services. 


The Customer Experience


Enterprises must move beyond the ominchannel where seeing ROI or achieving results have remained unachievable. Why? Several factors including, the lack of real-time view of the customer experience (briefly mentioned above), it is nearly impossible to make rapid changes to adapt to the market, limited by ideas and resources within different departmental silos across the enterprise, costly maintenance of legacy data silos with dedicated development and operations staffs and the risk of data leaks and regulatory audit failures.


Enterprises must create modern experiences by capturing business moments in a broad ecosystem. Business moments are transient business opportunities that come and go very quickly. An enterprise's ability to identify and act on a business moment will be the key to creating an exceptional customer experience and essential to enterprises' successes and survival.


There are typically two participants in a business moment. The first is the business moment owner who is responsible for identifying, capturing and acting on the business moment. The owner also provides a contextual response to capture the customer's attention through a unified user interface wherever the business moment occurs. A benefit of being a business moment owner is retaining the customer relationships, which in turn leads to developing brand loyalty and generating new revenue.


The second participant is the business moment contributor. A contributor to a business moment must identify the business moment owners and develop a strong relationship with them. They must also share their services via application programing interfaces (APIs) to become a part of the experience. Being a business moment contributor enables you to reach new targets and generate indirect revenue.

An example of a connected customer experience is Philipps Hue. Philipps, with the invention of the HUE Lightbulb, was able to turn a legacy and commoditized product (with very little customer engagement) into something modern, exciting and connected. They did this by adding digital capabilities to the lightbulb and exposing APIs.   


While the HUE light bulb is cool to begin with, it is not until the bulb was able to connect to smart devices, like the Samsung SmartThings or the Amazon Echo, that its value was drastically increased for the customer. In fact, since Philipps opened its APIs, it is safe to say Samsung Alexa Skill experience controlling HUE Light bulbs is better than the HUE Alexa Skill. In this case, Samsung is the business moment owner and everyone else is an example of a contributor. Imagine someone asks the Samsung Alexa Skill to turn on the living room lights and a light bulb malfunctioned. The Samsung Alexa Skill could facilitate the ordering of a new light bulb. While Samsung itself wouldn't make any direct revenue. This added value could create greater customer loyalty and happy partners.


By connecting into a broader ecosystem, Samsung spread value (source: Axway). 


As mentioned above, the light bulb experience by itself was cool, but coolness wears off. It wasn't until it was connected and participating in the ecosystem that it really became an experience that spread with value. Medcalf's law easily explains the value of a connected customer experience: the more participants in the experience the more valuable it is.


Source: Axway.


How to Build Connected Customer Experiences


Step 1. Adapt

Enterprises must transition from an enterprise-centric, omnichannel approach to a more customer-centered approach. Enterprises will need to define what their ideal customer's experience would look like from both a business moment owner standpoint and from a business moment contributor standpoint. They must then shift thinking from internal systems and static channels to enabling dynamic interactions with customers. No more watching through the window - participation is key.


Step 2. Engage

Enterprises must demonstrate how connected customer experiences can complement and enable projects led by the business, thus designing  new ways of engaging with customers.  They must also rethink engagements with suppliers, partners and developers to become more involved in the co-creation process. It will also be important to clearly benchmark activity in order to drive competition and continuous improvement.


Step 3. Scale

Enterprises must prove that their plan for a more connected customer experience can handle future growth and respond quickly to change. They must determine and optimize the main value drivers, which are not just monetary units of value because value has many forms to a business such as customer satisfaction, loyalty and ratings. Enterprises should be able to shift from monitoring activity to predicting performance.


A Better Approach to Customer Engagement is Here

Enterprises must move beyond static omnichannel approaches to create modern experiences and capture business moments in a broad ecosystem.


Data in our ultra-connected world is the key to meeting customer needs and staying competitive. Enterprises must be able to leverage data from within the enterprise as well as externally in order to participate and ultimately take an active role in the customer journey instead of watching through the glass windowpanes.