There is a great deal of talk about the eventual fate of retail being the battle of this, or the demise of that. Talks of some new gadget or service being "the death of offline". The word "retail" makes images old, abandoned shopping malls popup in our minds — like something out of a dystopian sci-fi flick.
We've been told that everything is shifting towards digital and we should focus primarily on online experiences.
BUT lately we're starting to see headlines and stories on numerous publications that talk about…
- New Microsoft Surface stores opening in Singapore
- Apple "Town Squares" that host workshops by professional photographers
- E-retail giant Amazon opening cashierless brick-and-mortar stores
- Google, a company that gets more than 90% of its revenue from search, opening new retail stores
- Facebook releasing ad retargeting based on offline data
The biggest brands in the world are pushing offline like never before. It seems that offline is not only living, but also growing in places where we wouldn’t expect, say — a decade ago.
Brands are realizing that the divide between online and offline is closing. 👈 (tweet that)
Why are the most valuable brands doubling down on their omni-channel strategy?
A significant percentage of consumers — are having omni-channel buying experiences.
We still value personal touch, being able to ask questions to real, well trained people and seeing products in person. We also like to quickly browse though products, check prices and get quick support online.
We’re in a truly omni-channel world. And as online and offline realms of business come together, OWNING the experience drives all the value.
Think of it this way: If Apple wasn't so bullish on offline, who would own their customer experience today? Amazon, AT&T, Walmart or would it be Apple? Apple Stores are a crucial touch-point in the customer journey. It would be a great challenge for Apple to control and own the experience without the stores.
Customer experience is like a moat around your castle(AKA your brand). It allows you to be able to defend your brand when markets shift and at times of great change.
Highest performing brands are the ones that are able to own the customer experience at all channels. The brands closest to the customers are the ones that win.
So what does this new, blurred, omni-channel landscape mean? And how can brands manage customer experience effectively in this new world?
4 Keys to Omnichannel Success
Just opening new stores and having a mobile app isn't enough though. In order to own the whole customer experience and in order to get closer to customers — in a scalable way — brands need 4 key capabilities.
Today, customers assume that brands have access to all of their data. This may seem like this makes it easier to ask people for personal data. And it does. But it also means that customers expect convenience in return.
Brands need to personalize their outreach and they need to share info across corporate divisions. They need to be able to collect customer feedback and data from all customer touch-points, throughout the customer journey to enrich experiences.
The second key to omni-channel success is omni-channel communication. People expect to be able to reach their friends, family and colleagues instantly through WhatsApp, Facebook or Slack and they expect the same from brands.
If a customer needs you, you need to be there. You need to be able to engage customers in real time AND manage these communications at scale.
A "reach us on whatsapp" sign isn't going to cut it with thousands of customers sending messages at the same time.
You can't own something you can't understand. To own the customer experience brands need to be able to see what's going on, at thousands of customer touch-points.
Engagement history, feedback and customer data can get massive and overwhelming very quickly. That's why brands need effective, customizable and scalable analysis tools to gain insights and track metrics that actually matter. Metrics that truly move the needle.
The last, but perhaps the most crucial, key to omni-channel success is the ability to integrate. A lot has been written about silos and how processes that don't talk to each other can be detrimental to business growth and success. That's because of the amount of overhead caused by silos.
Brands need a holistic approach to be able to own the customer experience. All business processes need to communicate with each other seamlessly:
- POS systems need to know about customer sentiment
- Support agents need to have access to offline and offline operational data
- Marketing automation needs rich customer data for personal campaigns
These are some examples of truly integrated processes that can manage modern omni-channel customer journeys.
How Brands can Transform Their CX
Now that we've got the keys to success, let's explore how brands can implement these and transform their CX. You know what — we'll show you instead.
Here's a clip of a recent webinar we gave on how brands can transform their CX, in the real-world.