What a wondrous world in which we live - one of infinite choice and possibility. I can buy a pair of the skinniest jeans (well, maybe not that skinny) from an Old Navy store, grab a new sweater for my hairless kitty on Petco.com, and deposit a check with my Chase mobile app. Mostly all of these tasks can be done in the comfort of my footy pajamas. I'd say that seven out of 10 of my interactions with companies are positive; it's the other three I can do without.
Like when I stepped into what I thought was the best electronics retailer a few weeks ago to buy a new TV for my living room. After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime to speak with an associate, I decided on a good quality model at a great price. After everything had been entered, and I declined the "gold" service package, the associate informed me that the TV was not in stock. He went on to say that it wasn't available at any of the neighboring locations either.
Seriously?! I thought. I had spent 60 minutes in the showroom with nothing to show for it. What's more, to this day I haven't received a courtesy call or email as promised to say that the TV is back in stock. There was no survey sent to me so that I can detail my experience, no letter acknowledging the inconvenience and apologizing, nothing, just crickets. If there's one message those pesky crickets sent loud and clear it's that the company doesn't want my business. At the very least, I expected an offer for an alternate model. What do you think? Is this incompetence or just a service-package spanking? I wonder.
Unfortunately, some companies are struggling to give customers the experiences they expect due to siloed channels in which there is limited customer data shared among them. In fact, 54 percent of marketers revealed that the biggest inhibitor in establishing a consistent omnichannel customer experience is not having a single view of customers across channels, reports Retail Systems Research Institute.
But all the systems and "solutions" in the world won't mean a thing in the long run if the company doesn't care genuinely about its customers and show it by doing the right thing, even when no one is looking or paying attention. Every department, every employee, every partner must be on the same page to deliver on the customer-centric promise. Systems, processes, and resources (human and otherwise) must be integrated for true omnichannel success. In a recent article, David Sealy writes "Whilst much has been written about the technology, marketing, and C-suite changes needed to execute a winning omnichannel strategy; very little has been discussed about the need for an evolution of frontline sales people."
While investments in mobile and social channels are climbing, according to Econsultancy, 66 percent of 500 e-commerce and e-business professionals plan to decrease or maintain current spend in offline channels such as stores, branches, call centers, and mail order. While I understand perfectly the strategy behind this, I just hope companies don't curb spending in offline channels so much that they negate the patronage of customers who still love an in-store experience. Although he omits the service piece, I love the way Macy's President of Logistics and Operations, Peter Longo, explains omnichannel as "The complete integration of promotion, packaging, merchandising, and pricing to create a unified experience, in-store, and online."
In the end, we must keep in mind that online and offline experiences are linked and the experience in one channel directly influences a customer's motivation to engage in another. Whether you own the corner store or you're one of the Fortune 500, now is the time to dig deep and connect with customers on the most personal level. In a recent Customer Strategist article, Elizabeth Glagowski writes "Amazon is truly a customer-first company. It outlasted so many other e-commerce companies because superior customer experience and trustability are core to its business." And in the words of Jeff Bezos himself "We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better." Thanks for the invite, Jeff; can't wait for my new TV!
About the author:
Vanessa Saulsberry is Senior Project Manager, Marketing and Client Delivery, at 1to1 Media. Follow Vanessa @1to1_Project