With customers becoming more comfortable with online shopping, a great omnichannel customer experience is no longer a nice-to-have. Instead, it's a must-to-have because customers are increasingly spoiled for choice.

Companies must follow their customers, and customers are now interacting with companies across multiple channels. What started as a website-and-email combo has now evolved into a website-email-text-Messenger-and-social media combination, with more channels being added regularly.

If you are new to the omnichannel customer experience or looking to improve your omnichannel strategy, you've come to the right place.

This article will take a deeper look at how you can create an unforgettable omnichannel customer experience for your company or brand, plus some examples to inspire you.

What is an Omnichannel Customer Experience

Omnichannel signifies a unified approach to communication that incorporates a variety of channels. Most popular channels include email, live chat, and even SMS, which aim to attract shoppers and find better ways to retain customers.

When speaking of the omnichannel customer experience, we are talking about how a brand communicates with its customers via various channels. But a crucial part of this is that each channel that a brand uses works together to assist the customer, sharing data seamlessly across channels so that the customer has a smooth experience.

The purpose of omnichannel communication is associated with every part of the funnel: from acquiring customers, nurturing and converting them, and finally retaining them so that they become loyal customers.

Why is Omnichannel Customer Experience Important

The behaviors of customers have changed from what it was a decade ago. Today, customers are more adapted to shopping and buying online through various channels. Thanks to the advances in the ubiquity of devices and online platforms, which are primarily exacerbated by the pandemic and sent most workers indoors and online.

In any case, modern customers want to discover goods on multiple channels & devices and interact with companies in different ways that are convenient to them.

These channels include:

  • Email
  • Live chat on the website
  • Social Media
  • Messenger (or WeChat in Asia)
  • SMS
  • Phone

Combining these channels can help companies provide positive experiences for their customers, increase their sales, make their products and services more sticky, and convert those customers into brand advocates.

5 Benefits of an Omnichannel Customer Experience

Omnichannel allows companies to provide their customers with a personalized experience that can delight them in many different ways.

Companies that provide an omnichannel customer experience can get:

  • Higher engagement and sales: According to research conducted by Omnisend (which focused on analyzing marketing efforts executed on one channel versus marketing on at least three channels), omnichannel marketing had 3x the engagement and a nearly 5x higher purchase rate than single-channel marketing.
  • More data to improve the experience: Customers behave differently and share different information on different channels. Getting deeper data on the customers enables companies to gain valuable insights, offer better personalization, and improve customer experience.
  • Greater customer loyalty: Retention rates increase significantly with better personalization and communication. It increases sales without increasing acquisition costs.

For customers, omnichannel customer experience is also beneficial because they get:

  • Better choices: Some customers love email, and others hate it. Some love Messenger, others not so much. Omnichannel communication allows customers to choose how they communicate with companies on the channel they are most comfortable with.
  • Faster communication and issue resolution: Customers also get faster responses, primarily when companies use chatbots, SMS, etc.

Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel Customer Experience

Omnichannel customer experience

Multichannel customer experience

Involves using a single channel to communicate with a customer, which are in sync to enable continuity.

Involves using multiple channels to communicate with a customer, but those channels are not synced. 

Follows a unified approach to deliver a smooth customer experience. It doesn’t conflict with the other channels. 

There’s no unified strategy since each channel acts independently and sometimes conflicts with the other channel. 

From the customer’s perspective, it’s a unified experience: the order they placed on their mobile phone is referenced on Messenger. The order confirmation comes via SMS, and their customer support on live chat pulls all that information together quickly.

Essentially, it’s like the traditionally poor corporate customer service—talking to many different people from the same company, but they’re all asking you the same questions you’ve already answered. They’re not talking to each other, and they only serve to annoy the customer. 

How to Create an Omnichannel Customer Experience

The omnichannel customer experience is excellent for both the company and the customer, but it does require a few steps to set it up effectively

1. Understand your customer journey

If you want to create that smooth experience across all your channels, you’ll need to understand how your customers often come to and interact with your company. This will require you to map your customers’ journey to see all their common touchpoints and standard sequences.

This is also a good time for you to audit your customer journey and identify any issues or gaps that can cause problems. This will help you make tweaks and optimize the shopping experience before customers even interact with your company.

2. Ask for feedback

If you want to find out more about your customers, you should talk to your customers. Getting direct feedback from your current or past customers can really help you understand the good and bad parts of their customer journey with your brand.

This is crucial information that you can use to improve your omnichannel setup to provide a more comprehensive and effective customer experience.

You can do this by asking for reviews after a customer has purchased, sending out surveys to shoppers (who haven’t bought yet), and many other tactics to hit different parts of the customer journey.

3. Get the right tools

A true omnichannel customer experience has data at its foundation. The strategy we discussed earlier uses that data, but the omnichannel customer experience really relies on data being synced quickly, continuously and dependably among the different channels.

Support agents should be able to see the order the customer placed on the website, the shipping confirmation sent via SMS, and the initial questions the customer had on Messenger.

Often, this includes not only solutions on those different channels, but a single view that the support agent or company representative can use to see all that data quickly when communicating with the customer.

4. Get company-wide buy-in

Lastly, it’s important that you get all the necessary information and buy-in from the differing departments within your company (depending on its size). After all, an omnichannel customer experience involves all customer touchpoints, including:

  • Marketing/acquisition, like PPC campaigns and your website
  • Sales
  • Customer support
  • Technical support
  • Product

When all of these teams share a strategy for communicating with the customer, the omnichannel customer experience has a much better chance of being successful.

How to Improve the Omnichannel Customer Experience

If you already have an omnichannel strategy in place, there are still many ways you can improve the omnichannel customer experience.

We’ll go through a few of the most common and effective ways.

1. Keep talking to your customers

If you had surveys and feedback before developing your omnichannel strategy but haven’t gotten feedback since then, you could be setting yourself up for failure. You need to continually get feedback from your customers through reviews and surveys to understand how effective the current strategy is and how to adapt it to fit more customers.

2. Optimize your mobile experience

The omnichannel customer experience will lean heavily on technology, so you must get your mobile capabilities up to scratch. Modern customers are generally glued to their phones, and while they may not buy on mobile, they are highly likely to browse on mobile.

Make sure your store offers a great mobile experience. Even better, if you have a mobile app, make sure that it provides a memorable experience, removing any friction stopping users from accomplishing what they want.

3. Answer questions more quickly

Customers are most sensitive (both in terms of being disappointed and being delighted) when they encounter problems and require assistance. One way to give them world-class service is to ensure you respond promptly.

All the best technology and process will be rendered useless if customers’ tickets are left unanswered for days or even weeks. It’s also crucial that you make customer support visible through all your channels — it should be easy for them on your website, in-app, on Messenger, etc., contact customer support.

4. Retain customers with rewards & loyalty programs

Marketing and sales are not only for the acquisition stage of your customers’ journeys—but it’s also crucial to focus on your existing customers to keep them around for longer. Keeping a customer brings impressive benefits to your business. According to KPMG, up to 86% of loyal customers will recommend a company and bring in new customers.

The best way to turn customers into brand advocates is by launching loyalty programs with attractive rewards and incentives. These will nudge customers further along their customer journey. The more they do with your store—such as buying a product, engaging on social media, or even subscribing to your newsletter—the more rewards they get. This leads to better engagement with your communications and higher sales overall.

5. Go offline

Modern customers, while in love with digital, still appreciate offline experiences. For that reason, make sure, if possible and practical, that you have an offline channel. For many businesses, this is a traditional brick-and-mortar store. However, you can always provide additional digital experiences inside the store to further the omnichannel customer experience, as we’ll see below when discussing Neiman Marcus.

6. Stay consistent

Lastly, part of your omnichannel strategy should include consistency of syncing, branding and communication style across all channels. One channel, your website, shouldn’t come off as formal while your live chat is casual. For the most part, customers prefer a friendly, approachable communication style which can lessen the friction of shopping and getting their questions answered.

Inspiring Omnichannel Customer Experience Examples

There are lots of great companies out there with exceptional omnichannel customer experience. Whether you're starting an omnichannel strategy or improving the existing one, here are a few examples to be inspired from.

1. Net-a-Porter

Net-a-Porter is one of the most successful omnichannel customer experience stories. Started in the early 2000s, this online-only luxury clothing store had to provide exceptional products and customer experiences, since in those earlier times audiences were skeptical about buying online.

To do so, they focused on improving sales, increasing brand loyalty, and creating lasting customer relationships. They decided to use an omnichannel solution to achieve these goals.

This included:

A mobile app called the Net Set, which was essentially a social app. This allowed users to remain inside Net-a-Porter’s ecosystem to interact with each other and share images of products they loved.

Net Set App
Image credit: Ynap

Email marketing campaigns, which includes the always-popular (and effective) welcome email below. This helped guide recent Net-a-Porter subscribers by following up on their store-connected activities.

Net-a-Porter’s ecosystem

Lastly, they used paid ad retargeting to reach out to visitors that abandoned their website without placing an order.

Their results? This omnichannel customer experience strategy is credited for contributing to Net-a-Porter’s nearly 17% year-over-year growth. That year, they had more than $3 billion in sales, and roughly 50% of that came from mobile alone.

2. Neiman Marcus

Another fashion brand that used the omnichannel strategy to improve their customer experience (and their sales) is the Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus.

Much like Net-a-Porter, Neiman Marcuss has an appealing mobile app that helps to connect shoppers to sales associates. This communication can happen via SMS/text message, email, FaceTime and even phone calls.

Neiman Marcuss
Source

Neiman Marcus users can also use the app to check up on their loyalty points and get information about upcoming promotions or events.

Another channel, their website, provides Neiman Marcus visitors with personalized product recommendations and remembers those preferences for further visits. They also have options to find items in nearby stores, which can help their users continue their omnichannel customer experience by getting information on the website and buying in-store (a different, traditional “channel”).

Another excellent customer experience offered by Neiman Marcus is their Memory Mirror feature. This high-tech solution is a large video screen and camera that allows shoppers to see how their outfits look from a 360-degree angle. This will enable them to compare their close side-by-side and remember what customers have already tried on.

This in-store feature is really great at converting users that may be reluctant on other digital channels.

Summary

The omnichannel customer experience can be great if you remember to put your customer at the centre of it all. If so, you’ll find out as much about them—what makes them happy, what causes them pain, what delights and disappoints—when they interact with your brand.

Only then will you be able to consider the technological aspects of your omnichannel strategy and see how you can provide the best information as quickly as possible to your customers.

This is the essence of the omnichannel customer experience. So, now, it’s up to you: how can you improve your customers’ experience using this omnichannel strategy when interacting with your company?

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