What is Omnichannel Customer Experience?

Customer experience is how a customer feels about the customer service your company provides before, during and after a purchase or use of your product or service. It is the product of all customer and business interactions over time.

This could include interactions through digital channels like a mobile device or a desktop and offline channels like brick-and-mortar stores. This practice considers every touchpoint in a customer's journey and ensures a seamless experience, irrespective of the channel they choose to engage with.

Increasingly, omnichannel customer experience is becoming the norm. No longer do customers just expect to have an 800 number to call. Customers today expect to engage in omnichannel interactions with a business that may involve using artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbots, SMS, messaging, social media, voice and other communication channels. Omnichannel customer experience is how customers feel about interacting with a business across multiple channels.

In fact, research finds that Generation Z and Millennials have a clear preference for next-generation digital channels when communicating with companies. And companies are starting to invest in supporting both agent-assisted as well as self-service digital channels. The highest growth is expected in messaging and artificial intelligence (AI) driven self-service, offering consumers more ways to connect with companies so they can select their channel of choice given the type of problem/issue to address.

Comparing Omnichannel and Multichannel Strategies

Omnichannel is differentiated from multichannel in that a single contact center agent may manage the interaction across the various communication channels and, most importantly, the total experience is seamless and continuous as it moves across channels.

Omnichannel Customer Experience

The omnichannel approach is characterized by a single contact center agent who manages customer interaction across all communication channels. This ensures a seamless transition for customers as they switch between these channels. The emphasis is on creating a cohesive, well-coordinated customer journey. The entire customer experience is designed to be integrated and seamless, whether customers transition from online shopping to physical stores purchase or from telephone support to email correspondence. The ultimate goal of an omnichannel strategy is to create a frictionless and highly engaging customer experience that is consistent and contextually rich across all touchpoints.

Multichannel Customer Experience

On the other side of the spectrum is the multichannel customer experience. While it also leverages multiple platforms for customer engagement, these channels often operate in isolation. Each avenue—online, phone, in-store, or email—functions independently, potentially leading to a segmented customer journey. Customers have the flexibility to interact with the business via various mediums, but each one may offer a distinct experience. This can result in a disjointed customer journey where continuity is often lacking when switching from one channel to another.

Omnichannel Customer Experience vs. Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel customer experience and omnichannel marketing may sound similar but focus on different areas. The key difference lies in their purpose and the depth of customer engagement.

Omnichannel customer experience prioritizes the customer's perspective and focuses on delivering a seamless and consistent experience across multiple channels, from online and offline channels to self-service portals. Whether customers interact with a business in-store, on a mobile device, or through any other channel, they receive a seamless customer experience. This approach not only improves customer satisfaction but also boosts customer retention and customer lifetime value.

Omni-channel marketing ensures customers receive consistent brand messages across channels. This strategy utilizes customer data to create personalized messages encouraging customers to move through the sales funnel. This not only leads to more sales but can also build brand loyalty. Omni-channel marketing plays a crucial role in business growth.

Why is Omnichannel Customer Experience (CX) Important for Your Business?

In today's digital era, customers expect a seamless omnichannel customer experience. They want to be able to shop online, then go to a physical store to try a product, ask questions through a self-service portal, and provide customer feedback through any convenient channel.

Implementing an omnichannel customer experience strategy ensures a deep understanding of the omnichannel customer journey across different channels, leading to a solid customer experience. Understanding customer behavior and preferences through the customer journey map allows businesses to offer superior service, keeping customers happy and building loyal customers.

Investing in omnichannel customer experience also helps businesses manage operations costs while improving customer satisfaction. Businesses can streamline their operations by providing a consistent experience and understanding the customer's journey, saving significant costs.

Moreover, the omnichannel approach increases customer loyalty and customer lifetime value. When customer interactions receive a seamless experience across all channels, they are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend the brand to others. This not only boosts customer satisfaction but also increases customer retention.

What does it take to excel at omnichannel customer experience?

The first thing companies need to do in order to excel at omnichannel customer experience is to embrace and support digital channels. Which channels you need to support—from SMS to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more—depends on your customers. You may find age, geographic and other factors that dictate which channels are preferred.

Next, you should centralize management of all channels within your customer service organization. The trained customer-facing employees in customer service are equipped to deliver exceptional customer experiences, so you want them to manage the omnichannel customer experience across all channels.

As the contact center agent is the key customer-facing employee, empower them with the tools to manage omnichannel interactions holistically and provide them the training to do so. You must ensure they can access customer context and interaction history as they move across channels to support customers.

Once the agents are fully enabled, you need to provide your customers with the ability to seamlessly move across voice, digital and messaging channels as they seek to engage with your company.

You’ll also need to ensure that you’re providing holistic omnichannel management and omnichannel customer service solutions across all contact center operations—ensuring that your workforce optimization, analytics and automation capabilities support your digital-first omnichannel initiatives.

How can NICE help deliver omnichannel customer experiences?

NICE CXone is the market leading omnichannel customer experience platform. It delivers the capabilities companies need to excel at consistently delivering exceptional customer experiences. It unifies omnichannel routing, workforce optimization, analytics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in a single cloud platform to empower companies to manage omnichannel customer interactions.

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