At the most basic level, omnichannel is about creating a consistent experience for consumers. Consistency seems simple, but with businesses being so complex that is not always the case. There are so many different functions, processes, personalities, and challenges, all of which can get in the way of a company achieving consistency.
Creating omnichannel experiences became a focus for most companies about 10 years ago when consumers started using a plethora of devices to engage with companies. The number of ways consumers engage has only increased, making an omnichannel strategy even more difficult.
Often times, companies will pick what they feel are the most popular or highest engaging channels to build a multichannel approach. The reason this approach is so common is because many companies feel there are diminishing returns with some of the less popular channels. This could not be farther from the truth, and it is a terrible excuse to ignore a portion of your consumers. After all, those less engaged consumers may be that way because of the experience you offer them.
Companies use data to formulate and analyze their omni-channel strategy more than anything else. Data helps companies understand how “omni” they really are, as well as identify gaps in the consumer experience that may not be consistent. In order for a company to be truly omni-channel, they need to ensure they have all the data about their customers’ experiences. Without the necessary data to fully understand the customer experience, there is bound to be inconsistencies in the experience.
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The foundation of any omnichannel experience is the data. Data provides the knowledge on how consumers are engaging with your company, how often, what their experiences are like, and much, much more. Without data, no omnichannel strategy will succeed. Collecting all your consumer’ data is a challenging feat due to the uniqueness of all the data points you must collect; however, similar to an omnichannel experience, data needs to be connected as well. Establishing a data foundation that joins data where possible, helps ensure a business is looking at the experiences they offer with a consistent lens.
Data comes in many forms, structured, unstructured, quantitative, and qualitative. Regardless of the data type, it should all be focused on the customer. Customers provide more than enough data to help you understand them, including, conversational data, demographics, preferences, transactional data, engagement, etc. Regardless of the type of data, it is imperative that companies find a way to normalize and structure the data in a way that mirrors how you want customers to engage with your brand. If you have retail data in a separate data lake from digital data, then you can expect those two experiences to be disconnected. Similarly, logistics data sitting alone in the warehouse will ensure that logistics won’t always be aligned with digital orders.
Siloed data creates siloed experiences. By simply joining customer data together, companies can more easily create an omnichannel experience. The value of having consistent data to leverage when evaluating the customer experience can’t be emphasized enough.
When the idea of a company being omnichannel was first formulated, most companies looked at it as more of an aspiration than an actual goal. Today, with technology giving companies the ability to collect cross-channel data, bring it all together, and analyze it regardless of structure type, there is no excuse not to understand your customer experience across every channel.
Data silos are some of the easiest walls to break down – make sure they don’t get in the way of your omnichannel strategy.