The omni-channel vs. the multi-channel
The difference between an omni-channel and multi-channel approach often gets people confused. Before we dive into how to achieve an omni-channel approach in the retail sector, we best make this clear. Many retailers use a multi-channel approach, however, leading retailers use an omni-channel approach when interacting with their customers. Multi-channel sometimes provides customers with a non-consistent message. Where as, an omni-channel ensures every interaction with the customer works together to ensure a consistent message is delivered.
Multi-Channel Support, your customers interact with your brand using a mix of phone, live chat, e-mail and SMS. The various channels should be consistent and deliver the same message but differences will be tolerated as your customers normally use the same channel of communication even though others are available.
Omni-Channel Support means that your customers can use the same device to contact you such as a Smartphone by using all the channels available. Consumers may contact you by phone today, e-mail tomorrow and live chat the day after so all your channels need to be integrated and deliver the same message regardless of which medium is used.
Make a plan
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Before you set out to deliver an omni-channel approach to your customers planning is everything. This means customers must get the same message in your brick and mortar presence as they would sitting at home interacting with your brand via mobile or any other smart device. The planning involved is crucial to achieve this. How you can transition, implement and execute your desired approach. That is to say, getting all your platforms aligned is likely to be the most difficult part of this process. The planning involved includes
- Integrating your systems by ensuring messages are transferred in real time between all your customer touch points. Additionally, this means full integration of your technology and your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software.
- Know your customer base inside out. That is to say, know what is expected from all your customer touch points. Are your customer’s queries general FAQs or more complex? And if so, have the correct procedures in place to deal with such queries.
Get all departments working together
In order to achieve an omni-channel approach to retailing you must get all your departments talking and working together. That is to say, this omni-channel approach that many retailers seek will not be achieved by only one department within your organisation. Additionally, this means getting your Marketing Department, IT Department and Customer Care all working in harmony together. Once this happens, you’re a step closer to your desired approach. Appointing a project manager will make this process much easier. Furthermore, the project manager can become the common point of contact between all departments.
Agree on a coherent message
In order to achieve an omni-channel approach a coherent message must be agreed on. Furthermore, this means that a clear process must be put in place for managing complaints, supporting marketing activities and other standard operating procedures (SOPs) when dealing with the customer. In turn, this ensures everyone within the organisation is singing from the same hymn sheet with relation to all customer interactions. If a customer interacts with your brand via Live Chat and if they happen to ring up later that day, the same message should be transferred.
Ensure your brand values and ethos are always portrayed
The retail sector deals with customers both virtually and on a traditional face to face basis. No matter what form of contact you have, it is vital that your brand values are delivered across each of your platforms. Whether your brand is fun and energetic or more luxurious, this needs to be communicated to your customers at all times. Furthermore, a clear brand voice must be portrayed across all platforms whether it’s a Tweet reply or an email response. A useful tool for this can be creating a brand voice chart which includes: Voice characteristics, Description, Do’s and Don’ts. This can guide all departments in your organisation when interacting with your customers.
Reap the rewards
After this longed and idealistic omni-channel approach is achieved, sit back and watch your customers commend their experiences with your brand. However, this will have to be continuously monitored and evaluated. That is to say, it is of huge importance to keep up to date with consumer trends. In 2018, there is set to be a trend emerging of personalized apps which in turn will be another point of integration for retailers to consider.
How can we help?
Arema Connect support many retailers in achieving an omni-channel approach. We provide our clients with the necessary customer touch points which include: