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Why does omnichannel customer experience design break?

Before choosing the channels that will make up your company's omnichannel strategy, it is vital to consider some considerations. It is necessary to reflect on what are the attributes of the customer service promise that have been previously outlined. Keep in mind that since the entry of social networks as a contact channel, it is the customer who chooses the most convenient way to contact the brand; and that currently there is no hierarchy between media the value of each one lies in the possibility of solving in the first contact.

In an interview with Mauricio Arias Sánchez, Operations Design Leader at wolkvox, we talked about the most common mistakes when implementing omnichannel strategies. He highlights multichannel development with a fragmented experience, all-in-one channels with disconnected processes, and the incorporation of more accessories than solutions.

Mauricio Arias Sánchez is a Master in User Experience Design (Universidad Internacional de La Rioja), Specialist in Project Management (UPB), Expert in Experience Management, enthusiastic about creative and deep learning of people-centered design and innovation.

What is the optimal number of channels a company should enable to develop an omnichannel strategy?

Mauricio Arias Sánchez: There is no optimal or magic number of channels. I can say that a more significant number of channels does not mean more value for the customer. In his book "The effortless Experiences," Matthew Dixon states that the alternative of choosing a psychic is an invention of the companies. Customers do not want to choose a channel among an infinite offer of channels; they want a channel that guides them.

Brands are currently in a frantic race to be present in as many channels as possible in which customers coexist with the brand and other customers. It is a titanic and sometimes frustrating action for companies. With the rise of social media, the formula has changed. It is no longer the brand that defines the channel, but the customer decides which channel is most comfortable and expects the brand to be present in that channel to make his life more comfortable. It is no longer just a channel in which an individual relationship develops between the customer and the brand. Still, customers want to share their experiences with other customers and make that relationship visible, even viral.

So the question that companies should solve is not oriented to the optimal amount, but rather to define if the enablement of this new channel responds to customer expectations and what the business pursues.

Based on customer experience, what is the number of channels a company should enable to develop an omnichannel strategy?

MAS: According to a study conducted by Aberdeen Group, companies that have robust omnichannel strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% retention for companies with a weak omnichannel strategy. We must now address how a company might consider whether its omnichannel strategy is weak or strong. The company must do a thoughtful and sensible exercise to define the customer experience (CX) and attributes that support its brand promise. This first step makes it easier for companies to focus less on deciding which is the next channel they need to add to their already extensive offering and design the relationship and solution strategy they will offer in the channel. In short, companies' CX strategy will focus not on how many but on which channels.

What could be the top 3 most critical mistakes when developing an omnichannel strategy?

MAS: In the different projects I have developed with companies, I have come across the following lessons learned:

- Multichannel with fragmented experience. It is enabling multiple channels without preserving the context of the customer independent of the moment of truth.
- All-in-one channels with disconnected processes. Companies are pretending to design a channel that integrates the company's operations when they operate separately.
- Incorporate channels that are more accessory than solution-oriented. Incorporate channels whose function refers to other channels because their scope does not contribute to solving customer needs at the first contact.

Does every company need to implement an omnichannel strategy?

MAS: Omnichannel and customer experience, and digital transformation have become media topics and are recurrent in companies' conversation spaces.

I believe that the company should start by analyzing the current state of its channel composition. If it responds to a multichannel strategy that enables several channels that act independently or the company obeys a cross-channel process where the customer can initiate, continue or end its interaction with the brand quickly between channels; or its strategy is omnichannel in which the user can start, continue and complete its interaction with the brand, independent of the channel.

This analysis undoubtedly invites us to evaluate how fragmented the company's experience is because that reality will be revealed when customers interact with the channel. Aaron Aguis, author of the book Faster, Smarter and Louder, states that all omnichannel experiences will use multiple channels, but not all multichannel experiences are omnichannel.

Do omnichannel strategies decrease or increase customer effort?

MAS: Dixon exposes that when customers interact with brands, 50% of that time is spent repeating information, and repeating information translates into a 60% increase in customer effort. Yes, the omnichannel strategy must guarantee a decrease in customer effort. But this is not the only attribute in which it must take charge. It must also contribute consistently in the personalization of the relationship (context), in the empowerment to interact with the channel (accessibility), and in the opportunity to obtain a solution (availability).

Is there any hierarchy of channels when we talk about omnichannel strategies?

MAS: In recent years, the optichannel concept has been developing, offering the best customer experience, at the optimum time and in the most appropriate channel. Under this concept, any effort to hierarchize or classify channels is discouraged, but rather to address the challenge by combining the customer's needs and the business. An Optichannel strategy invites us to offer customers an integrated, consistent, and intentional experience and for the company to have a more productive and effective channel for customer service.

How important is it to monitor channels in a unified way? Is it better to monitor channels individually?

MAS: What should be monitored is not the channel but the customer's moments of truth and interactions with the brand. The customer experience is cross-cutting across all available channels. Having a holistic view of channel performance facilitates the process of understanding the customer and predicting behavior. Suppose you have a platform that solves all your channels' control, with the ability to integrate with your company's platforms (CRM/ERP). In that case, it will be easier to focus on the consolidation of the omnichannel strategy.

In conclusion, the design and implementation of omnichannel or multichannel strategies become a challenge for companies because it determines how they communicate with their customers. It is at the same time generating structural changes in their way of doing things. It is impossible to think of a channel that integrates financial information, support, help desk, and training in the same process if each area works separately.