Forget Omnichannel, Think Omnipresence

Customers could care less about your omnichannel efforts, they just want consistency across mediums


“I expect an omnichannel experience with my favourite retailers…”

Said no customer ever.

 

However, this doesn’t mean that customers aren’t expecting their favourite brands and retailers to be accessible across multiple platforms and channels. In fact, according to many studies expectations are that, no matter the preference, the customer will be greeted with the very same level of service they are greeted with in store.

 

The biggest issue with this is continuity. Here is an example of an ideal customer experience:

 

Alicia is a busy city lawyer who still likes to keep up on fashion trends. She has very little time to shop, so she spends most of her time online. She can search across multiple retailers on search sites like Shopstyle or Polyvore to get a sense of where she should spend her precious few hours in the week going into a physical store. This week, she’s looking for a statement Fall coat, something she read about in a fashion magazine while she waited for her dentist.

 

She loves the color blue and searches on Polyvore for good options. She eliminates coats under $250 because she wants better quality, and over $1000 because she feels like she won’t get more than a season’s wear out of it.

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She falls in love with a gorgeous blue Milly coat, available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and FarFetch, but isn’t sure yet, so she tweets out an image of the coat asking her friends for feedback.

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She’s being followed by her Saks associate, who sees the tweet and replies, “That coat just arrived and I love it, too! Want me to put it aside for you? I’m around all day.”

 

Alicia tweets back, “Yes please! I’ll stop by this evening.”

 

Later that evening, Alicia stops by, tries on and buys the coat – and a few other items set aside for her by the associate, who took some extra time to go through Alicia’s social channels to see if there were other items that she was considering.

 

As you see through this example, it is the continuity of the service – from online to offline – that won over the client. In an ideal world, a customer would have the same experience from end to end.

 

It’s no wonder that loyalty is waning. Many retailers are fragmenting the customer experiences across channels. Marketing runs social media, customer service runs the call centre (which is often farmed out), IT runs the online storefront, and the sales associates? They have none of the online context when a customer walks into the store. A true omnichannel approach needs to recognize and support the customer not only through tech interfaces, but through human interfaces as well.

 

Online isn’t a replacement for customer interaction, it’s an extension of it. Whether you are using a platform like Salesfloor to deepen your customer service online, training your associates on  customer retention, or using social media to get to know your customers better, none of these tactics should be seen as distinct. Rather than thinking of the approach to customer service as omnichannel, you should think of your service as omnipresent. You need to be consistently present for your customer no matter the medium.

 

And if you think this is far fetched or that customers will resist such a dominant presence by brands, you would be wrong. In a study of 500 North American consumers on their online and in-store retail shopping habits, we heard from real customers who were asking to have this omnipresence in their entire shopping journey, from wanting to shop online with an associate (53%) to indicating they’d spend more with an associate who remember their personal preferences (73%).

 

Retailers that adopt an omnipresent mindset will be the ones who build and retain loyalty in a world where technology is creating more and more of a distance between brands and their customers.

 

So then, you may be omnichannel, but how omnipresent are you?