Customers don’t see a brand as a series of channels. They see it as a singular entity. So it’s not surprising that customers become confused when the experience they receive through one channel is inferior to or inconsistent with the one they receive through another.
And confused customers rapidly turn into unsatisfied customers.
Research shows that most consumer engagements now involve five or more interactions, usually across more than one channel. This outlines the critical importance for brands to develop an omnichannel capability.
Consumers expect to interact with brands from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. And while it might be true that nothing beats the human touch, that doesn’t mean an experience delivered through a digital channel should be a poor one.
A brand might choose not to staff its outlets and call centres 24 hours a day. But there is still plenty it can do to ensure that their digital experiences delight customers.
Omnichannel digital experience: Bridging the gap for customers
Australian brands have taken big steps when it comes to meeting the expectations of consumers for exceptional DX. On average across all industries, the percentage of unsatisfied respondents dropped to 35%, down from 40% in 2016. Better still, the percentage of delighted customers rose from 26% to 31%.
Despite the uplift, Australians still gave brands an overall DX score of -4%. This indicates there is still some way to go before Australian brands succeed in delighting their customers through digital channels.
Australian consumers clearly prefer to deal with brands through multiple channels, but only when those channels add value. Omnichannel DX had a greater positive business impact than single-channel engagements, as reflected by a DX score of -1% compared to -21% for single-channel.
Loyalty was also higher when consumers interacted through an omnichannel environment, at 43% compared to 38% for single channel, while advocacy results were also elevated.
However, consumers also rated the experience provided by brands as stronger in a single-channel environment. This suggests that brands which focus on a single channel alone might be able to provide exceptional service through that channel, but they could also be missing out on engaging with customers for whom that channel is not the most appropriate.
Ultimately, brands need to focus on providing a consistent experience across all of their channels to market, ensuring that all channels meet customer expectations.
Investing for omnichannel success
Additional research also shows physical stores have an important role to play in driving interaction across all channels – a finding reflected by online retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba opening stores in the U.S.
The popularity of click-and-collect services points to an additional benefit that brands accrue through using their physical outlets to give consumers the opportunity to both transact and fulfill as they wish, rather than being limited in either option. In this way brands are able to also drive consumers into their physical outlets, providing additional cross-sell opportunities.
Australian brands with physical stores must make the most of this existing advantage by integrating experiences across other channels, with the ultimate goal of providing a consistent experience across all channels. While every channel has its own nuances and advantages, there is much that technology can do to make the experience for customers more consistent, with the advantages of any one channel shared amongst others.
Bottom line: Digital experience is critical, no matter what channel you use
In a world where the customer is in control, brands will find it increasingly difficult to dictate how their customers interact with them. Ultimately there will be no clear winner in terms of which channel is best, with the best omnichannel strategies making the customer the winner.
All channels have their inherent strengths, and all customers have their preferences for how they choose to interact with brands. The key for omnichannel brands is to ensure that regardless of the channel of communication, the customer receives the best and most consistent experience possible.
To discover strategies to improve DX, download the SAP Australia DX Report for free here.