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For the majority of companies today, staying competitive means going omnichannel — that is, getting your message out across and interacting with customers through multiple platforms. Depending on how you’re set up, you might have dozens of landscapes where this happens. How do you make the most of all of these retail touchpoints to build a solid relationship and encourage sales?
It’s about the entire journey, not one point
If you follow a traditional approach to problem-solving, then it’s tempting to look at different touchpoints in isolation, such as your store layout or how easy your online checkout is. That approach is attractive because it seems very easy to come up with concrete, linear steps to take that can make a difference. But by definition, omnichannel isn’t singular. It’s a web where everything is connected to everything else. It involves the entire customer journey.
Because omnichannel looks at all the places and moments that contribute to the customer experience (e.g., shipping, post-purchase, packing), you cannot tackle it well by focusing on anything in isolation. It becomes critical to ask customers for feedback along the entire way and to see how different feedback elements connect. People might not complain about a long line, for example, if your customer service is fantastic — that’s typically the case at most Apple stores.
Conversely, if the delivery driver crunches the envelope and lets it sit on the customer’s porch for two days instead of making sure to hand the order directly to the buyer, then you’ve got a major blind spot that can easily negate your perfect packaging, price point and website store. That’s part of why unboxing videos are so insanely popular — people like to know that the experience has been carried through right to the final moment and that you didn’t stop paying attention to every detail even through to the very end.
So, making the most of your omnichannel retail touchpoints is firstly about seeing the web of interconnectedness. It’s about listening to the customer everywhere along those channels and knowing that everything from the first moment of research to the time the buyer consumed the product was a good experience.
Talk to everyone and don’t make assumptions, no matter how you collect the feedback
As a leader, fortunately, you have a lot of ways to collect feedback. For example, you can put a URL on a receipt to ask people to answer some questions online. You can have a popup when the customer looks at an item or checks out on your website. Other data from reviews/ratings or social media can be real gold.
The critical thing, though, is to get feedback about the entire experience from both buyers and non-buyers. From what we’ve seen, buyers make up only about 30 to 35 percent of traditional retail store shoppers, and a typical website converts only about 1 to 2 percent of people who visit. So, buyers are only a teeny fraction of the full market. If you listen only to people who actually spend money, then you can miss really important ways you could improve to expand to a larger target base.
Another key point to remember — don’t let assumptions get in your way. You might assume, based on some initial or single-channel information, that the consumer wants one thing, for example. But if you keep going and keep collecting in new or different ways, the picture might look very different. You might find that your first impression was wrong or that it only applies to a specific subgroup.
Using Apple again to illustrate, Steve Jobs initially assumed that no one would want a device without a keyboard. But he talked to consumers, and the feedback was the exact opposite of what he thought. If he had allowed his bias to drive him instead, then there would be no iPad.
It’s only after you’ve had a thorough back-and-forth that you can really prove what’s best to do. So, continue the process objectively through all your channels and don’t drop the ball early.
If you want to act, then measure
As a final must-do, make sure you’re using prescriptive and diagnostic metrics for whatever feedback you’re collecting. It’s one thing for you to be listening through your channels, but you have to have a way to measure what you’re hearing, too. It’s this ability to measure and quantify across all your different platforms that allows you to gain insight and then turn that insight into real action.
With the right mindset, delivering your best is smooth sailing
Business today doesn’t happen in just one area or way, and healthy, long-term brand-customer relationships depend on a terrific experience from beginning to end. For this reason, you have to be strategic about the way you operate in the omnichannel environment. Use the three points above to get in the right mindset and make sure you’re giving your customers the very best.