The first thing to define about omnichannel is not what omnichannel is, but what it isn’t.

It’s easy to believe that communicating via numerous channels makes your business omnichannel. Unfortunately, that’s only part of the story. To be TRULY omnichannel, a business must have all those channels cohesively working together. Making your business accessible via voice, chat, social media, and email aren’t enough. If someone starts a conversation on chat, they should be able to continue it on email without interruption. The key to omnichannel communication is seamless cross-over. If a customer must start from scratch with each interaction, it’s not an omnichannel experience.  Here are a few quick tips on omnichannel communication for sales, marketing, and services.

Omnichannel for Sales

Use customer journey mapping to make the sale convenient.

Whether your product or service is B2B or B2C, making the purchase convenient for the buyer is an absolute must. Omnichannel facilitates this by meeting your customers where they are. For example, if a prospect starts a chat with a representative on your website, they can then get an email with follow-up information, followed by a call from a sales rep who has already familiarized themselves with the conversation history and email chain.

Because omnichannel is reducing the friction between the channels, sales can be closed faster and without repeat steps for the customer. Use customer journey mapping to visualize which avenues your prospects use to reach you and how you plan to tailor communication for each outlet. Getting the entire sales team educated on possible scenarios prepares them to deliver faster, more convenient sales experiences.

Leverage inventory information.

Omnichannel communication makes inventory visible so sales reps aren’t left in the dark. Use the cross-channel visibility to gain real-time insights on inventory. Visibility into the current inventory helps sales reps avoid making promises they cannot keep. Customer expectations are better managed, and reps feel more confident about what they’re offering.

Use analytics to understand the patterns.

While some prospects may engage with you via a chat on your website, others will prefer to email you. And still others will request a live call followed by an email with detailed information. Understanding a prospect’s behaviors across each channel helps sales identify where that person is in the buying process, what their buying habits are, and what kinds of communication preferences they have. Use the analytics provided by omnichannel to track the behaviors and touchpoints across each channel and identify the most effective avenues for turning prospects into customers.

Omnichannel for Marketing

Adapt content.

If customers are reaching you through various channels, the presentation of that content should fit the channel they’re connecting on. Adapt content to fit the format of the channel and consider if the content is even relevant for each. Not every piece of content will make sense for every channel. Think about the kinds of experiences your customers are looking for from each outlet and how your content will help fulfill their needs. This may take some trial and error.

Use Service history to resonate with your audience.

Good marketing requires a solid understanding of the customers you’re trying to reach. What are their pain points? Have they had any recent issues with products/services from your company? Omnichannel is an opportunity to link customer support with marketing to understand audience experiences and preferences. Use that information to build personalized marketing strategies and campaigns.

Invest only in what works.

To know what works, you must first know which platforms your audience is most active on. Look at website analytics and examine data from services and sales to gain perspective on which channels are getting the most traction. Craft your omni-channel experience for efficiency by investing only in the channels with the most reach for your audience. You can always build in more channels later.

Use crossover info to make it personal.

Once you know which channels your audience is using and what their preferences are, you can use omnichannel to personalize the interactions on each preferred medium. Use the attributes you know about them to deliver text messages, Web popups, in-app notifications etc. that fit. Use their name and any other personal information gathered from sales and services to keep the message relevant and human.

Omnichannel for Services

Incorporate omnichannel slowly and strategically.

Think about the touchpoints that make sense for your business. Are customers reaching out to you mostly via email? Would your demographic use chat or prefer Facebook as a secondary contact? Roll out your omnichannel approach by prioritizing the most valuable channels first and then slowly adding the others in. A slow and steady approach isn’t necessarily a bad thing when incorporating omnichannel. It gives your teams time to master one channel at a time.

If you prefer to roll out all your omnichannel connections at once, that’s great! Just make sure you have the time and resources to devote to proper staff training.

Consider SMS as part of an omnichannel services strategy.

Text messaging is a medium that’s applicable across all industries, and therefore it has value for any business. In fact, research has shown that more than 99% of all text messages are read, so communicating via text could be a very productive method of reaching a customer. Texting can be used for reminders, alerts, or customer service interactions. Although SMS may not be in-demand for all customer service departments, don’t discount it without some serious evaluation of your customer base. Experts note that Millennial audiences tend to respond best to this medium.

Respond fast, or don’t respond at all.

One of the best results of omnichannel communication is the ability to facilitate timely customer engagement. When a customer faces an issue, they expect a quick response to resolve it.

Omnichannel communication gives services teams the ability to weave information from various channels to understand and respond to the issue faster. According to a survey by NM Incite, customers react more negatively to a slow response than they do to no response at all. So, your options are either 1.) Respond quickly or 2.) Don’t bother responding at all. Cut down on those communication gaps by utilizing the overlap of information provided by omnichannel.

Don’t be intimidated by the added technology.

A common misconception about omnichannel is that adding it to your technology mix only complicates customer interactions. Many services departments fear an influx of tickets and cases that are impossible to keep pace with. The reality, however, is surprisingly different. Companies that institute omnichannel communications find that more traditional tickets are handled through chat and phone support, leaving less tickets to be processed through time consuming ticket submissions. These immediate interactions lead to more first-call resolutions, so customers walk away more satisfied and with a lower likelihood of reopening a case.

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