Nowadays, there are dozens of touchpoints with your customers—from your website to your social media presence to email to any physical locations or trade shows you attend. Your customers can reach your business any time in a variety of ways, but do they have a consistent experience when and wherever they reach out to you? This is the goal of an omnichannel strategy, which plenty of companies are adopting to provide a consistent cross-channel customer experience.
What is an Omnichannel Strategy?
"Omnichannel" refers to an overall marketing, sales, and customer experience strategy that takes into account the buyer experience across all possible touchpoints. With an omnichannel approach, customers receive the same experience whichever way they choose to interact.
However, providing this experience is easier said than done, especially with the increasing amount of ways customers can interact with a business. Building and implementing an omnichannel strategy requires all hands on a deck and a strong understanding of the company's core values.
For B2B companies who sell indirectly or through a channel of distributors, achieving an omnichannel experience presents different challenges from those who sell directly. Working with other businesses to provide a consistent experience with your brand is difficult to manage with partner companies who are also working on their own brand experience and potentially selling competitors' products alongside yours. There's also likely differences between your partners in the way they operate, and most will not kindly overhaul their process over one vendor's request.
Since omnichannel strategy aims to provide consistency, businesses working with partner companies to distribute their products have a few options of providing a more consistent experience:
- Strive to partner with companies who share similar values
- Offer training certification on product use or servicing so customers can receive the same knowledge from any partner company
- Offer marketing support in the form of style and brand guides, campaigns-in-a-box, or co-branding opportunities
The use of partner portals and through-channel marketing automation platforms can assist in the communication between partners and vendors and distribution of training or marketing materials.
How Is Omnichannel Different from a Multichannel?
The similarities between omnichannel and multichannel content are superficial at best. Both utilize multiple physical and digital channels, but this is where the similarity ends.
Traditional multichannel strategies have activity and availability at multiple customer touchpoints, physical or digital, but the experience a customer receives in store versus on the company website or in an email will vary. Getting different answers or different attitudes causes confusion and frustration for customers, at the least.
On the other hand, omnichannel strategy aligns all the communication and outreach by the company so customers can expect and receive the same experience (and answers) no matter how they interact with a company.
Why Adopt an Omnichannel Strategy?
The major benefit of an omnichannel strategy is in the customer experience. Customers are engaged from when they first show interest, and they get clear information on how to accomplish their goals. Goals can be simply to purchase a product, find the closest store, or get help with using or even returning a product.
Many companies still use systems that cause needless frustration for their customers. Whether it's price variation between distributors, online, and in-store, or different answers to the same question when it's asked on social media vs email or phone call, customers can quickly give up (and find another solution elsewhere).
Omnichannel solves these issues, making customers happier and more successful—which means they're more likely to repeat business and recommend others. While change is never easy, adopting omnichannel practices will smooth out processes internally and ultimate build a stronger presence and consistent experience for your customers.