Today, more than ever, the customer needs to be heard.
The latest customer experience statistics are clear: companies that implement customer centricity policies are 60% more profitable, while more than two in three consumers are willing to pay more for services that meet their needs.
In Neosperience we have been dealing with Digital Customer Experience for years: we have experienced multiple changes in trends, in the interaction between brands and consumers and in the way of living the customer experience. Throughout this time we have championed the importance for businesses to build and maintain a strong online presence.
For a company, however, being present with its products and services on different touchpoints is no longer enough: in the face of a complex and fragmented Customer Journey, it is time to evolve the Digital Customer Experience from simple multichannel to omnichannel.
What is an omnichannel strategy and why is it important to put it into practice? What are the processes and technologies that can enable it and what role does Artificial Intelligence play in this new ecosystem? Let's discover it together.
Stuck in the (messy) middle
In a context of increasingly accelerated digital transition, where the physical world and the digital world are now inextricably connected, consumers expect to live increasingly fluid, personalized, coherent and synergistic shopping experiences.
On the other hand, Buyer's Journey has never been so fragmented. Digitalization on the one hand, and the scenario of strong social and economic instability on the other, have contributed to the disintegration of the sales funnel in a complex central phase, renamed in the marketing lexicon just as "messy middle".
A recent report by Think With Google analyzed the messy middle, trying to understand the most complex part, that is, the way in which buyers process the information they discover along the way: a process as delicate as it is fundamental in influencing purchase decisions.
In Google's analysis, there are two main mental mechanisms that the consumer implements while searching for information about a product or service:
- Exploration: an expansive activity, where you explore different purchase options;
- Evaluation: a reductive activity of classification and comparison of possible choices.
In addition to this, there are of course innumerable cognitive and social biases that shape the purchasing behaviour of future consumers and influence why they choose one product over another.
In this more complex scenario than ever, learning to hold the attention of the potential consumer in the "messy middle" on multiple points of contact, both physical and digital, is the key to the success of a brand in the current scenario, also and above all in Italy.
The multiverse of omnichannel
Before proceeding, it is good to make clear the distinction between the terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel”.
A multichannel sales strategy assumes that companies explore different channels of contact (touchpoints) with customers, individually optimizing their management and performance.
Omnichannel, as we will explore later, instead provides a synergy between processes and technologies for the construction of a personalized and consistent relationship with the potential customer during the entire Buyer's Journey.
An effective parallel to better understand the concept of omnichannel is that with the mass media industry.
Multimedia involves the coexistence of multiple media on a single medium, in order to tell a single story and convey a single message, involving different sensory cues in the user.
Multimedia has taken a leading role since the birth of the World Wide Web, by nature the result of a combination of audio and video content connected to each other through hyperlinks.
In recent years, however, there has been more and more talk about cross-media and trans-media, at the center of the choices of the franchises protagonists of today's popular culture.
In detail, cross-media identifies a story adapted on multiple media, while trans-media presupposes the existence of “multiverses” that create a single coordinated entertainment experience.
Immersed in what the scholar Henry Jenkins calls “convergent culture”, a landscape in which stories unfold and meet between screens, pages of paper and console joysticks, we expect totalising and immersive experiences – both in free time and in purchases.
Multichannel is not enough!
Now back to the world of commerce: thanks to the setback to traditional shopping experiences caused by the pandemic, over the last few years Italian companies have dedicated more and more resources to building a multi-channel sales strategy.
According to recent research by the Omnichannel Customer Experience Observatory at Politecnico di Milano, 60% of multichannel experiences do not meet customer expectations.
The data gives a harsh scenario: both in the B2C sector and in the B2B sector, there are still few companies that have gone beyond simple multichannel, implementing technologies capable of enabling an interconnected system of communication between corporate touchpoints.
Both globally and nationally, surely the waters are moving, thanks to the years of pandemic that we have behind us and the consequent push towards the digital transition.
As many as 76% of companies, according to a Zendesk report, say for example that they have increased investments to offer diversified customer service channels.
On the other hand, according to the Observatory, only 33% of Italian companies come to possess a complete knowledge of customer data (Single Customer View), which integrates customer contact information with behavioral data and feedback.
Just over one in four companies, even more alarmingly, has adopted advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools.
Overall, in the face of an interest of more than two thirds of Italian companies in the topic of Digital Customer Experience, only 6% of medium and large companies have adopted a truly advanced approach to an Omnichannel Customer Experience.
Omnichannel and Digital Customer Experience
The omnichannel customer experience enhances customer data collected on multiple touchpoints, integrates them together to obtain a unique and hyper-personalized view and favors the sharing of the information obtained between the various company departments.
Omnichannel provides a synergy between processes and technologies that seamlessly crosses all touchpoints, regardless of their nature:
- Digital – Websites and e-commerce, social media, mobile applications, Digital Advertising platforms, e-mail;
- Physical – Shops and points of sale, events and fairs, paper catalogues and brochures, workshops and meetings, direct sales channels;
- Hybrids – Product configurators, Click-and-collect, interactive in-store displays, Digital-out-of-Home campaigns, customer service.
In an omnichannel context, data is the crucial element. Technologies that support an omnichannel journey collect, analyze, and process large amounts of customer data at every stage of the customer experience.
Goal: Integration between all the data available to the company, both internal and external;
Technology: Customer Relationship Management Data Hub, a platform that integrates and harmonizes data from multiple sources and touchpoints.
Goal: Elaboration, through models and algorithms, of consumer insights;
Technology: Analytics tools able to extract value from complex data, of different origin and format.
Goal: Use of the insights obtained during the analysis phase in the corporate communication, marketing and sales functions;
Technology: Marketing Automation tools that support the company in defining and managing interaction with customers.
Goal: Improvement of the Customer Experience thanks to continuous listening;
Technology: Voice of Customer platforms, able to optimize communication between the company and the customer over time.
Artificial Intelligence and Omnichannel
Investing in the implementation of interconnected technologies and processes to give value to business data pays off, both in terms of customer base growth and existing customer loyalty.
In this regard, as we well know in Neosperience, Artificial Intelligence plays a fundamental role. We have therefore selected two exemplary scenarios for the inclusion of AI in an omnichannel Customer Experience.
1) New generation chatbot
Large Language Model-powered chatbots like OpenAI's GPT-4 can be used to improve customer service management.
A properly trained chatbot can provide timely responses on websites, applications or social media and handle routine requests, increasing customer service efficiency, reducing response time and freeing staff for more complex tasks.
Moreover, thanks to the analysis of the collected data, AI-powered chatbots can provide valuable insights to further improve the customer experience and marketing strategy.
2) AI-powered Product Configurators
AI-powered product configurators, such as our solution Declaro, allow customers to customize products to their needs and preferences, offering suggestions based on machine learning algorithms.
Product configurators also integrate with the enterprise software suite, from CRM to inventory management, for complete synergy between the logistics component, promotion and product sales.
In this way it is possible to significantly improve the customer experience, increasing the satisfaction and the possibilities of loyalty of the public, to always stay one step ahead.
Conclusion: Enabling omnichannel with Neosperience Cloud
Even small and medium-sized businesses can embark on the path to an Omnichannel Customer Experience, thanks to the support of modular and scalable application platforms such as Neosperience Cloud.
Our omnichannel solution combines the best expertise in Artificial Intelligence and cloud technologies with our experience and creativity.
We take advantage of the most advanced technologies and know-how built over the years to carry out our mission: to guide the evolution of business strategy and the go-to-market of companies, always putting the customer at the center of business priorities.
Relying on a suite of integrated solutions by design and fully customizable helps streamline the process of transitioning to omnichannel, thus helping companies to define and market new channels of purchase and promotion.