- What is omni-channel management?
- Why Omni Channel?
- How do you develop an omni-channel strategy?
- What is important to the customer?
- Requirements for omni channel strategies
Shopping on site or online, customer service by phone or social media, offers by post or e-mail – today there are numerous contact points between customers and brands. Instead of just concentrating on the point of sale, companies need to be represented on many different communication channels. The terms omni-channel, multi-channel and cross-channel are commonly used to describe cross-channel business models. However, they are by no means to be used synonymously. What are the differences between the three terms? And what does the right omni-channel strategy look like?
What is omni-channel management?
Omni-channel management refers to the synergetic planning, management and control of all relevant sales channels and all possible customer contact points (touchpoints) in order to optimize the customer experience and corporate success across the various sales channels and process steps.
With the omni-channel strategy, customers can switch between all available channels at any time.
What is Omni Channel Marketing?
An omni-channel strategy is also indispensable in marketing. Customers can be reached on a wide variety of channels and try to get in touch with the company. The “omni-channel customer” searches through different channels and then freely decides when, where and how to buy. Providers must offer their customers a seamless experience, regardless of channel and device. The customer journey can begin in one channel and continue or end on other channels.
What is the difference between multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel?
Multi-, cross- and omni-channel are cross-channel sales strategies, but differ in the degree to which the channels are interlinked.
With the multi-channel approach , various channels are available to the customer, but they are not linked to one another. This means that communication and marketing as well as sales take place via several channels, which are strictly separated from each other. The customer cannot trade across channels.
Cross-channel: Various communication and sales channels are combined here. By linking the channels, the customer can be accompanied along the entire customer journey.
With omni-channel strategies , the customer is the focus of all communication and sales channels. These merge into one another, so to speak, and synergy effects arise between the individual channels. The customer is completely free to choose his preferred channel.
Why Omni Channel?
As a result of digitization, prospects and customers expect companies to be represented on different channels. Seamless processes have become an important part of the customer experience and thus also of customer satisfaction. The fewer hurdles customers encounter in the course of the purchase process, the more likely it is that they will complete the purchase.
Benefits of the strategy
Higher customer satisfaction
Different target groups prefer different channels. If you serve the right channels for your target group, (potential) customers can use the channel they prefer. If you are represented on these channels, you will also stay in the mind of the customer. For example when scrolling through social media feeds.
In addition, the possibility of using different channels increases customer satisfaction. For example, when customers order something online and can exchange it on site.
High customer loyalty
Through your presence on the channels preferred by your customers, you also create more trust and higher customer loyalty . Studies show that companies with efficient omni-channel strategies have a significantly higher customer retention rate than other companies.
You can reach more people by expanding the offer to other channels, such as social media. This increases the traffic on your website and with it the number of conversions.
What are conversions?
In online marketing, the term “conversion” describes a process in which a prospect or customer carries out a desired action. For example, subscribing to the newsletter or purchasing a product on the website.
Stronger referral marketing
By using many channels, such as Facebook or Instagram, you give loyal customers more opportunities to rate and recommend your products. Referral marketing on social media will, in turn, draw the attention of other potential customers to you.
Improving customer satisfaction and retention, increasing conversion rates, and stronger referral marketing also lead to more sales overall.
How do you develop an omni-channel strategy?
The implementation of omni-channel concepts initially presents many companies with challenges. To successfully implement the strategy, do the following:
One of the biggest challenges when implementing an omni-channel strategy is to merge existing channels and communication paths. These have often grown naturally in the company and are sometimes in different areas of responsibility or departments. In most cases, these have not yet worked together as closely as is necessary with the omni-channel approach.
When introducing new channels and opportunities, you should also check whether they fit your corporate culture and whether they can be implemented.
2. Define goals and KPIs
Which goals and KPIs should the introduction of the new approach contribute to? Define your goals specifically and measurably in order to be able to measure your success transparently.
3. Compile know-how
As already mentioned, channels and communication channels have often grown within the company and are located in different departments. In particular, sales, marketing and service must work closely together for consistent omni-channel management. Use the existing know-how from the individual areas and bring it together. This is the only way to create synergy effects and a uniform and positive customer experience. Also consider that the IT infrastructure must also be designed for the selected channels. Technical requirements must also be considered.
4. Define target group and customer journey
Omni-channel strategies can only work if you know your target group well. Which channels does she actually use? What is the buying behavior of the target group? Only if you know this can you define the customer journey and align your channels accordingly.
5. Set up and use channels
Determine which channels you want to use and set them up in such a way that they address your target group and above all: create clear responsibilities and communication channels in the company. You don’t have to be represented on all channels. Offering many channels, but not or insufficiently serving the customer on one channel has a negative impact on the customer experience. Find out where your (potential) customers are and focus on these channels.
6. Optimize and further develop
Once you’ve implemented the strategy, that’s not all. You must continue to measure and optimize results and KPIs. Is a channel not working or not being used? Do not invest unnecessary time in this channel. Is there a new channel you’re using to reach your target audience? Use it and break new ground. Omni-channel management is dynamic.
What is important to the customer?
When developing your omni-channel strategy, the focus should always be on the customer. You should consider the following points in order to offer the best possible customer experience:
Channel changes should be offered, but not forced
With the omni-channel approach, the customer should be given the opportunity to use other channels for communication or to buy products. In most cases, forced channel changes lead to displeasure on the part of the customer. If you advertise your product online, the customer should also be able to buy the product quickly and easily online.
Connect channels with each other
The networking of the various channels is the basis for the omni-channel approach, and not just from the customer’s point of view. Internally, too, information should flow seamlessly between sales, marketing and service and, for example, the social media supervisor should have access to service cases in order to be able to optimally answer customer inquiries.
Creating a consistent customer experience
Even if they are different channels, they should have a uniform appearance and product ranges. Personalization and personal customer care also play a major role in the customer experience. Customers want to be recognized as individuals and looked after personally. To ensure that all data is available for successful personalization and an individual customer experience, it is advisable to store the customer data centrally in a customer relationship management solution. Sales, marketing and service all have equal access to all customer data.
Requirements for omni channel strategies
Omni-channel as an opportunity
Many shop owners see the possibilities of digitization and online shops in particular as a threat to their business. The fear that shop visitors will look at products at the point of sale and then order them online at a lower price is great – and justified. However, you can use these options directly. You can reach a much larger target group with your own online shop. Through contact on social media, you can exchange ideas with your customers, get constant feedback and create a relationship of trust.
Change in organizational structure and processes
For the omni-channel method, you also have to change structures and processes in the company. Marketing, sales, service and product management must work closely together.
In order not to lose track of the various channels and information, it is essential that information is stored and managed centrally. A customer relationship management system (CRM) is best suited for this.
Central storage of information and customer data
Not only does customer master data come together here, but also all messages, e-mails and information from telephone calls.
When everyone who comes into contact with a customer knows who the customer is and what information is already available about a customer, you can:
- provide a personalized customer experience
- Process customer requests faster
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Prevent customer migration to the competition
- increase your sales
And not only information is centralized, processes from sales, marketing and service can also be mapped and made transparent in CRM software.
collaboration between departments
A CRM facilitates cooperation between departments, as all current information, documents and status updates on projects and customer inquiries can be stored in one system. All employees have quick and easy access to all relevant data.
Uniform mailings and campaign management
An important aspect of omni-channel marketing is a consistent customer experience. With a CRM with the appropriate marketing functions, you can manage your campaigns centrally and easily create and send e-mails in your corporate design.
KPIs and tracking
A big advantage of the omni-channel strategy is that success can be tracked on many channels and made easily measurable. Measuring key figures is an important prerequisite for a functioning omni-channel strategy. In this way, you can keep an eye on which channels are used by your target group and bring the desired success. This allows you to focus your resources on the relevant channels.
Another advantage can be the linking of customer data with the telephone system. In this way, service and sales already know before you speak to the customer which customer is calling and, thanks to the data in CRM, often already know what it is about.
CRM systems also offer decisive advantages for sales letters. You can define your target group from the data available in the CRM, create personalized documents directly from the system and export address lists for sales letters.
CONCLUSION: Better customer experience with omni-channel
The omni-channel method offers your customers a seamless and personal customer experience by merging online and offline possibilities, which leads to higher customer loyalty, more conversions and also more sales.
Although the conversion of structures and processes can initially be a challenge, the method offers unique opportunities to retain customers over the long term. Because (potential) customers now expect a consistent brand experience across all relevant channels. Good CRM software with the appropriate functions makes the changeover and the effort in everyday work easier.