The Takeaway: Embracing omnichannel is critical, but businesses need to exercise caution to avoid these common missteps – over-promising, not minimizing repetition in the process and overlooking analytics.
Omnichannel, once an abstract concept, is steadily moving into the mainstream. Countless companies are currently developing omnichannel strategies, and as our recent blog post highlighted, some leading retailers have made tremendous strides in this direction. At the same time, though, omnichannel - along with customer journey and omnichannel analytics - remains a goal for the future for most organizations (see our new white paper for more details). As a word of advice to those companies, rushing toward omnichannel too quickly can heighten the risk of committing serious mistakes.
Here are three of the most common mistakes that businesses make when embracing omnichannel.
1. Over-Promising, Under-Delivering
The single biggest, and most common, omnichannel mistake that companies make is over-promising. Businesses are so eager to deliver an omnichannel customer experience that they prematurely claim to have actually reached this level of service and support.
This is really the worst possible outcome. It is much better for businesses to recognize their limitations and be upfront with customers than to make promises they can't deliver, as that only leads to disappointment and resentment. Notably, Lisa Nirell, writing for the Huffington Post, noted that about one-third of the firms she surveyed made their phone numbers and email addresses invisible, despite making claims in their "About Us" section regarding their commitment to customer engagement.
Promising omnichannel when it's out of reach is an even greater offense, and will create a major backlash among customers who thought they'd be able to move smoothly from one channel to another only to find they cannot.
2. Minimize Repetition
Being forced to repeat information more than once is one of the biggest gripes consumers harbor when it comes to customer service, as Microsoft's Matt Kresch noted. People find it uniquely frustrating to deal with redundancies in the customer service space.
In a true omnichannel environment, customers should be able to smoothly transition from one medium to another without the need to repeat themselves. In that sense, this goes back to the issue of promising omnichannel when a company can't actually provide that capability. But when many companies consider omnichannel, they focus more on the retail experience, rather than customer service, and so this issue goes underappreciated.
Any company that is able to deliver omnichannel from a shopping perspective needs to make sure that this same fluidity is available via all customer engagement channels.
3. Overlooking Analytics
One of the biggest advantages of developing omnichannel is the potential for customer insight. Businesses can gain far greater information regarding their customers when they have a clear view of how consumers move through an omnichannel environment.
For that insight to deliver the maximum results, though, customer journey analytics are essential. And many companies tend to underdevelop their efforts in this area before launching their omnichannel capabilities. It would be fair to argue that analytics are so important that this intelligence-gathering component is an obvious first step toward deployment of a full omnichannel solution.
What omnichannel missteps have you witnessed at other companies?