Omnichannel Customer Experience

    7 min read

    Customer Experience (CX) is the holistic perception of any brand, business, or service by its customers. When you ask yourself a question such as "Do I like Burger King?" the answer will be based on all your experiences with the brand. These interactions can come from using the product or services you may have experienced before and after a purchase.

    Today, our digital world is filled with new channels – avenues through which companies reach customers. They are no longer one-way. Customers' interactions with brands are now more dynamic and interconnected. They want instant answers and personalization in these interactions. Companies need to seamlessly connect with them across the entire brand journey to create a remarkable experience. To keep pace with the modern consumer, companies must invest in an omnichannel customer experience!

    What is an Omnichannel Customer Experience? 

    An omnichannel customer experience encapsulates everything a business does to put its customers first. One of the core features is to have a smooth transition between channels during the customer journey. If done correctly, the customer may not notice the channel shift, and the brand experience will remain consistent. However, building an omnichannel customer experience involves building a relationship with customers; understanding their needs goes beyond having interconnected channels alone.

    The Importance of an Omnichannel Customer Experience for a Business

    According to McKinsey's research1 on CX, companies that focus on an omnichannel approach tripled the investment return for stakeholders. By adopting an omnichannel customer experience, businesses can earn the trust of their customers and yield several other benefits, such as:

    • Increased operational efficiency: With an omnichannel customer experience, businesses strive to deliver value to customers at all touchpoints. In doing so, processes need to be simplified end-to-end, not just at those touchpoints. Finely tuned processes create efficiency, such as avoiding repeat interactions.
    • Satisfaction vs. loyalty: A great customer experience increases loyalty to the brand and makes customers more likely to try additional services. The payoffs are significant: up to a 16%2 price premium on products and services. Additionally, a loyal customer who feels valued is usually more willing to share personal preferences – data that could lead to personalization.
    • Customer retention: Achieving a good customer experience is hard, but retaining those customers is even harder. Bad experiences drive away users faster than businesses may think! According to market research, 32% of customers said they would stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one bad experience.2 An omnichannel experience is not just a one-time achievement but an ongoing commitment that helps customers choose your brand again and again.
    The Importance of an Omnichannel Customer Experience for a Business
    Figure 1: The Importance of an Omnichannel Customer Experience for a Business
    White Paper
    Omnichannel Engagement: Why Isn’t Pharma There Yet?

    How Do You Enable an Omnichannel Customer Experience?

    • Define your experience strategy and common purpose: Developing a CX strategy is crucial to remain relevant and competitive. Organizations and brands must understand how their product or service offerings align with customer needs. Businesses should define a common vision for omnichannel strategy and share it across the company so that everyone knows the starting point, as well as the "north star" ambition. A successful strategy requires strong support from the leadership team, the workforce, and the underlying technology ecosystem. Otherwise, misaligned investments will waste capital resources.  
      Media giant Walt Disney is a practical example of defining a common purpose. It states: "We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere!" With this concise goal statement, Disney empowered all employees to deliver value to customers consistently, in line with its purpose. The statement acts as a compass, guiding their behavior and inspiring them to go above and beyond.
    • Map the customer journeys: When a customer has a need, every interaction with the business is a step toward fulfilling that need. There are certain expectations from the customer's standpoint as to how the need will be met. Nowadays, the most common expectation is that multiple touchpoints should create an experience for the user. Customer journeys are about mapping this end-to-end experience – and optimizing it – rather than focusing on individual transactions and touchpoints.
    • Invest in the power of data: The central pillar of omnichannel is personalization. Businesses should know about a customer's history and preferences. To stay relevant and develop a relationship with their customers, organizations should invest in a technology stack that consolidates data into a single customer view. That way, no matter how many channels and touchpoints you have, your team has all the information they need to craft a personalized journey for consumers.
    • Always be testing ("ABT") and establish processes to capture feedback: Planning the journeys and investing in the right technology isn't enough to make the cut. An abundance of data will be generated with omnichannel, so collecting and using this data for testing and continuous optimization is imperative. A regular feedback mechanism should, of course, be part of a dashboard for management, but should also be made available to individual stakeholders – sales reps, service, product managers, and more – so they know what is working and what is not.
    • Focus on early wins to continue the momentum: Many bold initiatives may be launched to delight customers, but not every effort creates value. A better way is to analyze the historical performance of satisfied and dissatisfied customers and focus on what the early wins can be. Some wins can be achieved simply by optimizing existing operational processes rather than creating new ones. This requires patience and discipline but sets the organization on a pace of continuous momentum for further innovation.
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    Four Ways to Improve an Omnichannel Customer Experience

    Now that you have understood the importance of an omnichannel CX and laid its foundation, there are four essential points to remember for continuous improvement.

    • Contextual understanding: Having a personalized and dynamic strategy is good for reaching like-minded people, but understanding customer behavior and tailoring efforts to it is the key. Fuel your cross-channel platforms with constantly evolving consumer needs and lifestyles.
    • Empower customers: Even though it is a good idea to map the customer journeys, the real power of omnichannel is to empower customers to let them create their own journeys. This is only possible by offering flexibility across all channels. Remember, the experience is paramount, so a true omnichannel CX should feel like it is channel-less!
    • Crystal clear: We're seeing more and more channels, stakeholders, products, competition, flexibility options, and more. An omnichannel strategy can quickly spiral into a complex setup. Rather than providing all information (complex) across channels to customers, aim to provide simple, clear, and unambiguous information. It helps in bumping up the trust quotient, even if the product itself is simple!
    • Stay human: Even though customers are becoming more tech-savvy, the need for human touch will not be eliminated anytime soon. While a customer may appreciate smart online systems' speed, convenience, and intelligence, they may still seek advice to understand something during their decision-making process. Organizations should deploy and orchestrate human interventions where drop-off rates are higher or for prospective customers to convert the leads.
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    Up To 10% Higher Return On Investment (ROI) From An Omnichannel-Led Digital Engagement For A Top Ten Pharma

    The Role of AI and Technology in an Omnichannel Customer Experience

    In an omnichannel world where the complexity and speed of doing business are accelerating, new-era predictive technologies are becoming essential tools. Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) provide an opportunity for enhancement in several ways:

    • Data usability: With advanced computational power and open-source algorithms, it is now possible to scour vast and growing amounts of data and transform it into "usable" information. This data can be used for foundation model training, formulating insights, and suggesting actions.
    • Hyper-personalization: AI algorithms can analyze customer behavior data and help deliver unique messages for individuals based on their needs, profiles, preferences, and interactions. It enhances recommendations and increases the likelihood of a customer's future engagement, boosting loyalty.
    • Customer Convenience: With digitization and automation, businesses can offer services to customers at a complexity and speed that far exceeds human capacity. Advanced chatbots and self-service options are drastically changing human interactions.
    • Real-time decision-making: AI systems can streamline decision-making processes across the entire customer journey. They help activate the experience across channels to engage customers wherever they may be. All this is achieved in real-time to ensure a tailored and relevant experience across all touchpoints.
    The Role of AI and Technology
    Figure 2: The Role of AI and Technology in an Omnichannel Customer Experience
    Why Is Balancing Autonomy Critical To Driving Omnichannel Orchestration At Scale?

    Examples of Omnichannel Customer Experiences

    Several successful companies have boosted their profile and brand loyalty by implementing omnichannel CX. Let's look at a selection of brands raising the bar on creating differentiated experiences.

    • IKEA: The famed Swedish retailer established a new era of shopping with its staged showrooms, huge inventory, and tasty food. The company turned a simple shopping experience into a destination where one can spend an entire day. IKEA now operates 424 physical stores in 52 countries around the world. 
      However, the brand known for its large physical stores also ventured into the digital world, setting a benchmark for omnichannel done right. In 2017, IKEA launched its online shopping app. Beyond a mere e-commerce space, the app acts as a virtual assistant that alerts shoppers exactly where to pick up the items in the store. It also has a virtual reality feature, "Place in Your Room," letting users see what products would look like in their homes. The app also uses ML technology in its "search by photo" feature, a powerful option that is rarely seen in other e-commerce spaces even today.3
    • Topshop: Topshop is a UK-based fashion retailer using an omnichannel strategy to combine physical and digital channels. Topshop placed billboards near its stores in major cities like London, Manchester, and Liverpool. These billboards were just a short 10-minute drive away and showed top fashion trends featured during London Fashion Week. The outdoor ads also asked onlookers to Tweet with a hashtag, such as #leather or #pleats. Doing so would provide the customer with a curated shopping list to guide their in-store purchases. This integration of channels was a massive game-changer for Topshop. It led to a 25% increase in sales.
    • Target:  The mega-retailer wanted to be part of consumers' everyday lifestyle. Target partnered with Pinterest to integrate Pinterest's "Lens" into its online shopping app. This feature enabled users to capture a photo of something they like while browsing Pinterest. The Target app will then show recommendations of similar items to purchase. This is a classic example of an omnichannel CX where the consumers are moving from one channel to another as part of the journey without any friction, enjoying a seamless experience. Target was able to increase its sales by 10% with this strategy. 
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    Conclusion and Takeaways

    The omnichannel customer experience is the new standard, as it pays dividends. Its success is reflected in performance measurement indicators such as net sales increase, customer retention, and loyalty. Achieving a solid omnichannel CX should be engrained in any company, going beyond bottom-line growth and investing in user relationships! A beautiful quote by American poet Maya Angelou summarizes the importance of an omnichannel customer experience: "People may forget what you said or what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel!"

    This article is contributed by Disha Gupta, Director at Axtria.


    1. What is CX? McKinsey and Company. August 17, 2022. Accessed April 4, 2024.

    2. Puthiyamadam T, Reyes J. Experience is everything. Get it right. PwC. 2018. Accessed April 4, 2024.

    3. Zhavoronkova N. 7 companies that run the best omnichannel campaigns. App Institute. May 23, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2024.

    4. 3 examples of strong omnichannel marketing initiatives. Marketing Evolution. October 8, 2019. Accessed April 4, 2024.

    5. Kaushik A. Omnichannel marketing examples – Implemented by 10 amazing brands. Moengage. February 7, 2024. Accessed April 4, 2024.

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