What is Omnichannel Customer Experience?

Customer experience is how a customer feels about the customer service a company provides before, during and after a purchase or use of a product or service. It is the result 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. Customer experience takes into account 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. Customers today expect to engage in interactions with a business that may involve using AI-based chatbots, SMS, messaging, social media, voice and other communication channels. Omnichannel customer experience, therefore, is how customers feel about interacting with a business across multiple channels.

In fact, research finds that Gen Z and Millennial consumers have a clear preference for next-generation digital channels when communicating with companies. And companies are starting to invest in supporting both agent-assisted and self-service digital channels. The highest growth is expected in messaging and AI-driven self-service, offering consumers more ways to connect with companies so they can select their channel of choice.

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. Most importantly, the total experience is seamless and continuous as it moves across channels.

The omnichannel approach to customer experience

The omnichannel approach is characterized by a single contact center agent who manages customer interactions 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 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.

The multichannel approach to customer experience

The multichannel customer experience also leverages multiple platforms for customer engagement, but 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 in which 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 they 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 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 have a seamless customer experience. This approach not only improves customer satisfaction, but also boosts customer retention and customer lifetime value.

Omnichannel 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. Omnichannel marketing plays a crucial role in business growth.

Omnichannel customer experience (CX) is important for business

In today's digital era, consumers 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 customer journey across different channels, leading to a solid customer experience. Understanding customer behavior and preferences through a customer journey map allows businesses to offer superior service, keeping customers happy and increasing brand loyalty.

Investing in omnichannel customer experience also helps businesses manage operations costs while improving customer satisfaction. Businesses can streamline their operations when they fully understand the customer journey, generating significant savings.

Moreover, the omnichannel approach increases customer retention and customer lifetime value. When customers enjoy a seamless experience across all channels, they are more likely to become repeat customers and recommend the brand to others.

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. However, which channels — SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more— depends on the customers. Ages, geographic dispersal and other factors can dictate the choice of channels.

Centralized management of all channels within a customer service organization is a necessary next step. Trained customer-facing employees are equipped to deliver exceptional customer experiences, so they are the first choice to manage the omnichannel customer experience across all channels.

As agents are the key customer-facing employees in a contact center, they must be able to access customer context and interaction history as they move across channels in support of customers. To that end, they need to be empowered with the necessary tools and training to manage omnichannel interactions holistically.

Once the agents are fully enabled, customers can be provided the with the option to seamlessly move across voice, digital and messaging channels as they seek to engage with your company.

All contact center operations — workforce optimization, analytics and automation capabilities — should be aligned with the holistic omnichannel management and be able to support digital-first omnichannel initiatives.

How NICE is Redefining Customer Experience

NICE CXone is the industry’s only interaction-centric platform where channels, data, applications, and knowledge converge to improve customer experience at scale.

It is the leading, most complete and unified CX Platform on the market, used by thousands of organizations of all sizes around the world to help them consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences. CXone is a cloud native, unified suite of applications designed to help you holistically run your call (or contact) center operations.

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