The more technology advances, the more it’s integrated into our daily lives. As people change their behaviors, marketers, salespeople, and customer support reps will need to react. Instead of thinking of a desktop experience, a mobile experience, a tablet experience, we’ll need to pursue one, holistic approach — an omni-channel experience. 

WHAT IS OMNI-CHANNEL?

At its core, omni-channel is defined as a multi-channel sales approach that provides the customer with an integrated customer experience.

And omni-channel experience? Omni-channel experience is a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out. The customer can be shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, or by telephone, or in a bricks and mortar store and the experience would be consistently seamless.

OMNI-CHANNEL VS MULTI-CHANNEL

Do you have a multi-channel or an omni-channel customer engagement strategy? Do you know the differences between the two? Let’s start with definitions …

Multi-channel (i.e., “many” channels), while less integrated, allows customers to purchase wherever they prefer to browse and shop.

Companies with this approach are adopting two or more channels to engage their customers, however, they are not necessarily focused on delivering a seamless / consistent message across multiple touch-points. Furthermore, these programs don’t necessarily factor in optimizing the customer experience based on the different devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets and laptops) clients use to interact with the business.

Omni-channel (meaning, “all” channels) unifies sales and marketing to create a single customer experience across your brand.

While companies using this approach also use multiple channels to engage their customers they distinguish themselves through two additional factors; consistency and focus on devices involved within client interactions. These businesses are diligent to ensure that their customers receive the same experience and message through different channels and devices involved within their interactions with the firm. For example, a company that provides customers with the ability to engage it through a mobile app, social media portal and website would be focused to ensure that the look and feel as well as the messages they receive across each touch-point are seamless.

Omni-channel and multi-channel marketing are two unique strategies that both aim to reach consumers and potential consumers by leveraging mult ple channels. Marketers must make the shift to focus on omni-channel efforts in order to increase customer retention and in turn, revenue.

WHAT DOES OMNI-CHANNEL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE LOOK LIKE?

According to My Customer, if a bank customer has a question about a fluctuation in their mortgage rate, which happens to be an Adjustable Rate Mortgage. The customer might call to speak with a live representative. A few years later, when their rate fluctuates again, he or she might call to ask another question. As the customer is calling, the agent will be able to pull up all the details about the customer and their specific situation as well as find out whether the question they asked a few years ago was resolved. Assisting the customer becomes easier for the agent with the context of that customer’s history. Without the omni-channel context, they would have to frustrate the customer with several background questions before being able to resolve their request.

Moreover, the multi-modal capacities inherent to an omni-channel experience enable an agent to text the customer a confirmation and/or a link to further info while the customer is still on the phone. If the customer is late for a meeting and wants to continue the conversation by email, or follow up a few hours later by live chat, that’s also easy. Any agent who continues the engagement will be able to pick up where the previous agents left off in full context, presenting “one face” to the customer—and a surprisingly smart face, at that. Almost like hitting the pause button on a DVR and resuming the program right where you left off.

WHY IS OMNI-CHANNEL SUPERIOR?

Let’s take a look at another great example of a full-fledged omni-channel experience – the Disney app.

Disney’s various customer touchpoints are so interconnected that the user experience never ends. You don’t need to buy a ticket online, show up at the park, and take a gamble on lining up anymore.

Now, you buy a ticket, download the app, scan your Fastpasses, check ride times, and explore customized content before even setting foot in the park.

Once you’re at the park, you can easily navigate your way around, find Disney characters on a live, and interactive map before get your picture taken at the store, have it show up on your app, and purchase when you get home.

The entire experience is a never-ending sensory overload of the Disney brand that contains one critical factor: Consistent, seamless integration. No matter how or where a customer interacts, the shopping experience is the same.

WHY CHOOSE OMNI-CHANNEL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT?

According to Aberdeen Essentials, companies with well-defined omni-channel customer experience management programs achieve a 91% higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate on average, compared to organizations without omni-channel programs. These organizations also average a 3.4% increase in customer lifetime value, while those without omni-channel programs actually diminish customer lifetime value by .7% year-over-year.

Another study by Business Insider found that shoppers who engaged on multiple channels made purchases more often:

FINAL THOUGHTS…

The majority of shoppers now hit multiple touchpoints before making a purchase. Limiting yourself to one or two platforms and lacking the seamless integration you’ve seen here can be detrimental to your long-term growth. In the end, an omni-channel customer experience is the most granular, detailed, and efficient customer experience an organization or representative can provide.

Always look for new outlets and ways to connect each and every channel. Create an experience that isn’t locked into a single platform. Rather, create an experience that can be completed and repeated on each.

Want to know innovative ways to gain insights using an omni-channel strategy? Contact a customer experience research specialist at BARE International today.

‘The race to own customer experience is on! Companies are recognizing the importance of delivering an experience that makes them stand out from their competition. Some are learning the hard way. Here, BARE International shares an article by Shep Hyken for Forbes on Customer Experience Is The New Brand.

Last year United Airlines had a brand crisis, in which $1.4 billion in value was wiped out overnight when a passenger’s experience went viral on social media. And, you may not have heard about Juicero, but it fell victim to brand crisis when it was discovered the proprietary juice packets needed for its $699 juicer weren’t so proprietary, resulting in the company dropping the price of the juicer to $200, and then ultimately going out of business.

Be it customer service, product quality or just the way the customers feel about the companies they do business with, customer experience rises to the top of whether or not the customer will decide to keep doing business with a brand.

Today, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010. But while 80% of companies believe they deliver “super experiences,” only 8% of customers agree. In other words, companies have a long way to go. And, that means there is tremendous opportunity to disrupt a competitor or gain market share in an industry. Everything a brand does – the way it does its marketing, research, advertising and more – all play a role in shaping the customer’s experience. Focusing on customer experience management (CXM) may be the single most important investment a brand can make in today’s competitive business climate.

It used to be that customers could communicate with companies in only three ways. They could visit the business in person, write a letter or call customer support. Then came faxing, and then email. Today there are even more ways customers connect. They use Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and more. And, when customers do connect with you, they expect to be known and served “on demand” regardless of the channel they are using.

And, there are some customers who, when they don’t get the service they feel they deserve, complain. But, not to you. To the rest of the world on the aforementioned social channels. The good news is that some of the customers who are happy will share that across the social channels, too.

With so many channels through which customers communicate, it seems like creating a powerful and memorable customer experience is more complicated than ever. Technically, that’s true. But, on the surface, customers want the same things they’ve always wanted, and that is to be taken care of. They may be more demanding. They may want problems resolved faster. But that’s understandable because technology has given us the tools to provide that kind of speed.

And, here is something very important to consider. Customers don’t care if you claim you have omni-channel or multi-channel capabilities. They only care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, and when they want to connect with you. They go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them. It could be a phone, a desktop computer, a tablet – whatever communication method they are most comfortable with.

I’ve written about this in previous articles. Jeff Nicholson at Pegasystems calls this “Channel-less Support,” meaning the customers have no idea how many channels a brand offers, and really don’t care. They just want to communicate on the one that’s most convenient for them.

I recently connected with some friends at Sprinklr, a company that has created what it refers to as a CXM (Customer Experience Management) platform to unify all these different channels into one. Its solutions enable customer support centers to unify 25 different communication channels, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They shared some insights for every type of company to consider when it comes to improving CX.

  • All interactions and data need to be in one place: The customer may reach out to a company for support over live chat. The next time it’s on the phone. And the time after that, the customer uses instant message to connect with the company. Even though the interactions came across different channels, the person currently interacting with the customer must see them as one long conversation.
  • To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved. A company may have different teams, but the customer doesn’t care. As mentioned above, the solution is to bring all interactions and data into one place. When technology doesn’t work together, neither can teams. When teams can’t work together, they can’t give a personalized customer experience. This frustrates both customers and employees.
  • Create consistency in your processes to create consistency for the customer:When companies get big, they often have multiple teams with multiple processes. This can become painfully frustrating for customers who end up talking to different people in different departments. There could be conflicting information and explanations. That leads to confusion, and often a loss of confidence. Ultimately, that can lead to lost business.

The company may define its brand promise, but it is the customer who decides whether or not the company delivered on its promise. There’s a lot riding on delivering a positive customer experience. You hire and train good people, but you must also give them the tools they need to deliver a CX that not only meets the customers’ expectations but makes them want to come back. Be there for them – no matter how they reach out to you – be consistent, and build your brand through satisfied customers.’

Read the full article at the source here.


MYSTERY CUSTOMER RESEARCH BY BARE INTERNATIONAL

Your business challenges are unique. Our proven success across industry categories stems from asking the right questions to help you address the challenges you face everyday. Each solution we offer is customized to meet your needs, providing actionable feedback to help you make critical business decisions. We treat you the way you want to treat your own customers, providing a dedicated project team to give you the attention you deserve and an infrastructure spanning the globe to provide the resources you need to understand your customers’ experiences.

  • Customized Research Solutions
  • Immediate, Actionable Feedback
  • Dedicated Project Team
  • Family-Owned, Global Capabilities

Get in touch today to receive a complimentary evaluation of your business. We look forward to working with you.

Thanks to technology (define ‘Instagram-worthy’?), we see exponential change in what defines an ‘experience’ when you’re shopping. Here, BARE International shares an article by Harley Finkelstein for Forbes on 5 Trends That Change The Way Your Customer Shop

 

A few weeks ago, my wife pulled me into a big name department store to look for an engagement gift for a friend. I rarely set foot in department stores anymore and I thought the experience might be nostalgic, even fun. Within seconds I was full of regret. Trying to navigate floors and floors of haphazardly organized, uncurated stock in search of a specific product wasn’t just frustrating, it was defeating—second only to the difficulty in trying to flag down an actual salesperson to help us out.

There’s no excuse for a shopping experience like that any longer.’

‘We all now have supercomputers in our pockets. We’ve come to expect a limitless catalogue of products, immediate insight into functionality and user reviews, comparisons with related products and, in some cases, same-day delivery. Responding to these expectations, progressive retailers—online and offline—are finding increasingly creative ways to raise the bar and put an end to the one-size-fits-all approach to retail. Just putting stuff on shelves no longer cuts it.

Here are 5 trends transform[ing] shopping for the better in 2018.

1. Experiential shopping, minus the gimmicks

From espresso bars in salons to popup lemonade stands in stores, experiential shopping was all the rage 2017—almost to the point where it became a gimmick. It’s not enough anymore to add superfluous bells and whistles (or the ubiquitous DJ) in a bid to appear on trend. Retailers that are winning in the realm of experiential shopping are doing their homework to ensure the experiences offer real value to their core clientele.

Take London’s House of Vans, which made a concrete commitment to counterculture when it opened a custom BMX and skate park in the bottom of its flagship store. This wasn’t an afterthought: it was a dedicated effort to give customers a place to do what they love. This same upleveling of experience is happening digitally. Victoria’s Secret’s millennial-targeted PINK Nation app is a social media network that offers games, prizes and of course, discounts and promotions. But what sets it apart are on-campus events that move the socializing offline and create opportunities at colleges and universities for members to forge real-world connections. The key here is that these experiences are incredibly authentic—not cheap marketing tactics. They add meaning and value for the customer.

2. Next level personalization

Of course, one of the surest ways to create meaning for your customers is to craft a product or service expressly for them. Better, bigger data, streamlined digital interfaces and on-demand manufacturing mean that bespoke customization is the new retail frontier. As a black t-shirt aficionado, I have to single out Son of a Tailor, which jumped on my radar this year by beating traditional retail at its own game. All I have to do is input my chest measurement onto their site and I get a perfectly tailored, made-for-me shirt delivered right to my door, complete with monogrammed initials and a fit that’s far superior to anything I’d find off the rack.

But individual innovation isn’t limited to online retailers. I’m a long and loyal customer at Harry Rosen, despite rarely setting foot in one of their stores. I don’t have to. Every year during the retail “Super Bowl Season”—that frantic period between Black Friday and Christmas—I get a visit from one of their sales associates with all the clothes I need. By leveraging rich customer data, plus the human touch that comes with brick-and-mortar, traditional retailers are rising to the occasion in the new shopping landscape.

3. AR that’s actually useful (and AI that’s not annoying)

Long limited to tech fantasies, augmented reality and artificial intelligence have finally crossed the chasm into being…well, useful. AR integrations in apps from stores like Magnolia and Ikea have solved a major problem with online shopping: they let you see products in your space before you buy. Just point your phone at your living room and see how that new couch or coffee table fits in. Similarly, Gap’s DressingRoom app is bringing the AR magic into the apparel space by enabling users to see garments on a mannequin of their selected size. And it won’t stop there. A future is in sight where you’ll be able to point your phone in the mirror and see how those same threads will look on your body.

Meanwhile, chatbots have finally found their place. Brands are figuring out the best way to use artificial intelligence isn’t to replace humans, but to help them. Relegating digital agents to the grunt work, like sending out tracking numbers and shipping updates, is freeing up human capital for complex tasks, like handling customer concerns, dealing with special requests or building business strategies. Finally, human and machine are working in harmony to create a better experience for the customer.

4. Mobile goes mainstream

The data says it all: mobile checkouts are on the rise. Almost 65% of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales occurred on mobile across Shopify platforms in 2017. It’s a trend that will only continue with mobile shopping on pace to eclipse desktop or tablet in the not-too-distant future. Outside of our platform, nearly 35% of e-commerce purchases were made on mobile in 2017, a rate that’s predicted to jump to nearly 40% over the year ahead.

Fuelling this are more mobile-friendly sites, better phones and reduced barriers to checkout thanks to integrated payment systems through iPhone and Android. Facial recognition is another game changer. With the new iPhone X, I simply look at my phone and my purchase is on its way; soon, I won’t even have to do that. Voice commerce is poised to revolutionize online shopping with Siri, Alexa and Google Now standing at the ready to make purchases with simple verbal commands. For retailers looking to keep up, embracing this new tech and making e-comm on mobile frictionless should be priority number one.

5. Social shopping (finally) finds its niche

Social media today is a lot like the town square of yore—the place where everyone gets together to socialize and window shop. But, until recently, actually purchasing something on social media was painful and inefficient, and most people saved their shopping for traditional retail sites. No longer: in-app purchasing on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest has evolved dramatically in recent months, enabling social media users to finally pick up their goods without leaving the virtual neighbourhood.

And just like neighbourhoods, every platform is different. We learned through our latestintegration with Instagram that featuring just one or two products—rather than an entire catalogue—can be key to catching someone’s eye. Just take this Braniacs projector or Ripple Yoga Wear jumpsuit that were all over the site for Black Friday. The rise of in-app shopping means social media is finally bringing one of the time-honoured traditions in retail online: the impulse buy.

The biggest trend of all in 2018: change. Fueled by technology, shopping is evolving in ways we couldn’t have anticipated even a few years ago. (I’m talking to you, Alexa.) But for retailers who can keep up—and leverage new tools to give people what they want, when they want it—the promise may well be more customers and higher sales than ever in the year ahead.’

Read the full article at the source here.


MYSTERY CUSTOMER RESEARCH BY BARE INTERNATIONAL

Your business challenges are unique. Our proven success across industry categories stems from asking the right questions to help you address the challenges you face everyday. Each solution we offer is customized to meet your needs, providing actionable feedback to help you make critical business decisions. We treat you the way you want to treat your own customers, providing a dedicated project team to give you the attention you deserve and an infrastructure spanning the globe to provide the resources you need to understand your customers’ experiences.

  • Customized Research Solutions
  • Immediate, Actionable Feedback
  • Dedicated Project Team
  • Family-Owned, Global Capabilities

Get in touch today to receive a complimentary evaluation of your business. We look forward to working with you.

Do you know how customers view your company? Brand reputation is essential to the success of any business. Stand out from the competition; invest in these core, or ‘Golden’, branding strategies. 

Thanks to the competitive market, customers have many options of products and services to select from, and they often rely on the brands that convey greater credibility via brand reputation. Optimize your brand reputation and win the customer’s trust before they even walk into your store!

1. DEFINE YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION

Every company needs to look for elements that differentiate it from the competition. Looking for innovations is essential to adapt to the needs of the customer. The value proposition is just that: a set of products and services that highlights the company before its opponents.

However, do not confuse price with value. The price is the amount that the buyer needs to shell out to buy something. Value is determined by the public; that is, it is the way the products and services are seen by the consumer. It is worth remembering that the perception of employees, suppliers, and partnerships also count.

Therefore, the first step in designing a successful business is to define a unique and extraordinary value proposition. Additionally, be sure to define your company’s missionvision and values ​​to create a solid foundation for growth.

2. INVEST IN A UNIQUE & MEANINGFUL VISUAL IDENTITY

One of the first contacts that the customer has with the brand is through the visual identity, either by the front of the establishment or by the packaging of products, business cards, advertisements on television, or scattered throughout their location.Have you ever walked into a store just because you were attracted how the storefront looked? The aspect of an intriguing visual identity, or branding, is essential to convey trust and facilitate the company’s identification. Here are some examples: When you open a bank card, you soon recognize the sender just for the colors used, right? It’s that kind of identification you need to create for your brand.To develop an efficient visual identity, hire skilled professionals. They have in-depth knowledge about concepts, colors, shapes, fonts and even studies that support findings on how the brain works with recognition and likeability.

3. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER

Knowing who you are dealing with is critical to devising effective strategies. Only then will it be possible to understand what the customer expects when they purchase the product or service. Gather as much information as you can, such as name, age, sex, marital status, profession and even hobbies. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools can help you collect this data.

With all this knowledge, it will be possible to build your consumer database, customize service, create strategies for loyalty, generate trust, and optimize brand awareness. When you are able to build a customized experience journey for your customer, they remember and prioritize you for future business.

4. USE CONTENT MARKETING

Investing in online strategies is essential to gaining and retaining customers, expanding the company’s exposure and gaining credibility. Leverage the virtual environment to implement content marketing actions. This method serves to generate authority for the brand by producing useful information for its target audience.So, how do you do that? A popular strategy is to create a corporate blog to inform and educate your reader! For example: Do you run a cosmetics store? Provide posts about which shampoo is ideal for each type of hair, or showcase a tutorial on how to apply eye shadow. You produce materials of interest to your audience and, at the time of making the buying decision, they will help keep you and your products in mind. After all, you are a thought leader in that industry!

Additionally, content marketing helps to understand the needs of customers and offer products that will actually meet their expectations. Extend strategies for social networks and share posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Pro tip: Be sure to remember that it is important to adapt the materials to each type of network. Instagram, for example, is a highly visual channel. Therefore, ensure the post has an image as the focal point for Instagram, versus an attractive tagline and interesting hashtags which are prevalent in Twitter.

5. STRENGTHEN CONSUMER RELATIONSHIPS

Imagine: your company receives a critique on a popular social media channel, and your loyal customers resolve to defend the brand. This is the ultimate goal of relationship marketing: to win over loyal consumers who can act as brand ambassadors for your company at certain times. The strategy consists of defining actions to generate and maintain a positive connection between the company and the public. In addition to loyal customers, relationship marketing aims to build trust and authority for the brand.

One of the key tools to strengthen consumer bonds is through targeted email marketing. Personalized email marketing makes it possible to send congratulations on special dates, provide promotions, gifts or benefits for the next purchase, and even offer after-sales service. Email marketing can be a strong ally of content marketing, as well. Be sure that the content of your emails are valuable, and think “quality over quantity” when it comes to emails: there’s no sense in creating a nice opportunity for your clients if they’re just going to hit ‘delete’ as soon as it comes to their email box! Another option to improve consumer relationships are through loyalty programs. You can offer unique advantages so that consumers choose your company instead of looking elsewhere.

6. BE VIGILANT OF CUSTOMER FEEDBACK, ESPECIALLY CRITICISMS!

Provide communication channels so that consumers have a way to provide feedback. In this process, criticism is even more important than praise because it shows the points of dissatisfaction and encourages the improvement of products and services. What’s more, this openness influences how the customer perceives the brand. By realizing that the company is interested in the buyer’s experience, not just the money, the customer knows they matter to the company and the brand, and the result is a strengthened relationship.

Brand awareness ultimately affects business results, so investing in branding strategies is crucial. A brand that positions itself as a thought leader in its industry attracts more consumers, and build a loyal fan base faster. Follow all these Golden Rules, and watch your company’s positive reputation grow!

Let BARE International showcase your brand reputation by aggregating all of your customers’ experiences into one platform. Contact us today for more information, we look forward to speaking with you.