Omnichannel Experience: The New Value Driver

According to Walker Consulting, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator and value driver. Conversion rates will be tied to customized experiences that reflect buyers’ behaviors and preferences. Both business buyers and consumers expect highly personalized experiences and want them to be seamless as they switch between formats and devices along their buying journey.  As a result, many organizations are ’pressing pause’ to review their business, brand and ecommerce goals to align them with an omnichannel world.

BCA created the Press Pause webinar series to help organizations ask the right questions at pivotal times in the lifecycle of key marketing initiatives and help guide next steps. Our first session focused on personalization; and the second dealt with sales enablement. Press Pause for Omnichannel is the next webinar in our series. It digs into the cross-channel, cross-device experience and content needed to drive sales and build loyalty.

Omnichannel helps both B2B and B2C organizations connect to their existing and potential customers in more meaningful and relevant ways. A good omnichannel approach will result in the following:

  • Increase in sales with a quicker turnaround in conversion
  • Decrease in cart abandonment;
  • Deepening loyalty with customers which leads to increased lifetime value
  • Meaningful customer recommendations and word of mouth

To achieve these results, objectives for omnichannel should focus on customer needs and behaviors rather than defining goals by individual channels. Why? Because the customer interacts with multiple channels to meet their needs. For example, a CEO might see a banner ad in an airport offering consulting services, then scan a QR code from it, which prompts her to a campaign website on her mobile device, which then leads her to sign up for a profile resulting a call to a sales representative.

Omnichannel initiatives can be overwhelming. This webinar is designed to focus on three challenges facing organizations that should cause them to press pause:

  • Fit for Purpose: Before launching a pilot or omnichannel initiative, make sure that your strategy aligns with customer preferences.
  • Competing Priorities: Sometimes an organization needs to knit together the pieces/parts scattered across functions to build a more integrated program and coalesce around a single view of the customer.
  • Hitting a Rhythm: Putting the right resources in place is critical as is generating the right analytics to sustain, scale and enhance the omnichannel strategy.

The webinar presents easy-to-digest steps that help move the organization forward at each key juncture. The discussion will include:

  • Aligning omnichannel strategy to business goals
  • Building a cross-channel, cross-device content and experience roadmap
  • Overcoming cultural roadblocks
  • Identifying the cross-channel metrics that will keep you on track and get you to the next level

This webinar will provide practical information you can use to tackle the issues your organization faces in operationalizing an enterprise omnichannel environment,

Join us on March 14th at Noon ET for Omnichannel: The New Value Driver. Click here to register.

Standing Up a Successful Omnichannel Content Strategy Vis-à-vis Competing Organizational Priorities

When the Bank of Georgia (TBC) (Tbilisi, Georgia) sought to optimize its customer experience around the loan procurement process, they did so by tweaking business processes, optimizing systems and creating an approach that was built around the customer needs within each channel. Today, TBC customers can begin their loan origination process via a phone call and then finish it at an ATM, kiosk, or branch. Leveraging an omnichannel, customer-centric strategy has offered TBC the following results:

  • Increase in the loan approval rate by forty percent
  • Decrease in credit applications from one business day to fifteen minutes
  • Decrease in cost to originate a loan by fifty percent due to a decrease in manual review processes
  • Increase in automation processes from fifteen percent to ninety percent

To get these results and create a more seamless loan application process, TBC had to address fundamental changes within its organizational and business structures. They optimized the customer experience with the most timely and relevant content within each channel.

The success of an omnichannel strategy is often hampered by competing business priorities.  Clashing priorities are often reflected in the final product—especially within content—and can even prevent an omnichannel strategy from getting off the ground in the first place. One common error is a failure to align your people to the common priority of supporting the creation and rollout of an omnichannel customer experience, which usually results from a failure to address organizational considerations from the inception. Any one of the considerations listed below can threaten the success of an omnichannel strategy. The good news is that each area presents opportunities as well as risks. These four areas include:

  1. Shared vision – You want to ensure that all business units in your organization understand your vision for omnichannel and support that vision
  2. Cultural roadblocks – You want to identify these when crafting your strategy, so you can address them as you build it out
  3. Projects across the organization – Omnichannel is an ongoing strategy, you can’t have it going in and out of folk’s radar because of other efforts
  4. Roadmaps – The roadmap is your tool to address the other three considerations and speak to a unified approach

Aligning on a Shared Vision

A shared vision creates a unified and effective strategy. It considers input from all necessary stakeholders. A shared vision reflects each stakeholder’s perspective and addresses his or her competing priorities. To align on a vision:

  1. Start with a team that includes all stakeholders key to the creation of an omnichannel experience. Ask: What will it take for them all to act collaboratively, and what will get in the way of collaboration and alignment?
  2. Don’t just think about business strategy, look at what will create the most effective and best content experience. Ask: How do we think about content experience collectively, as opposed to a singular channel or business silo; leverage cross-channel customer journeys to create internal workflows and publishing processes.
  3. After your team is in place, start building that strategy. Remember, the components of an effective strategy offer a goal, objectives, target audiences, and channels. A good strategy asks and answers the following: What are we doing, for whom, why are we doing it, when and where are we doing it? (geography and channel) and, very important to include, how will we know it is successful?
  4. Don’t leave out governance as a core part of the ongoing evolution. Ask: Are key areas represented in governance leadership teams? Are there strong leaders who can impact adoption of a collaborative process?
  5. Build a performance model and ensure you can effectively gather and report on the right analytics: this is especially true for content. Ask: Can you measure content performance across business units?

To really build the alignment necessary to support a successful execution, ensure your stakeholder team represents all critical areas of an omnichannel content experience. These include:

  • Business strategy and customer experience
  • Content experience and performance
  • Organizational, operational and budget
  • Technology and systems

The image above represents the key organizational components that create an omnichannel content experience. Your stakeholder team should have members from all the disciplines reflected here (i.e., content, data, legal, etc.) and the strategy should account for each of these components. Remember that investment in additional resources may be required to create this complete team. As CMO Club has noted: “64% of marketers cite lack of resources and investment as their top barrier to omnichannel marketing.” Ensuring you have the right team in place at the beginning can prevent future issues.

Diffusing Cultural Roadblocks That May Get in the Way

Many cultural roadblocks can be avoided if participants achieve agreement on a common purpose and shared vision. But issues presented by organizational silos will persist, even if all necessary stakeholders are aligned and committed to an omnichannel vision. Take, for example, the following: If sales are incentivized per channel, such as a sale on the Web versus a sale in a store—there will be competing interests, regardless of how much alignment exists to get behind an omnichannel strategy.

Buy-in is critical from all stakeholders—who will then push the vision and strategy to their teams—if this is to be a priority, and not dismissed as the next fad. The omnichannel strategy must be understood as the new normal. This is especially true with the content creation teams within an organization, who will be challenged to produce even more content for an omnichannel content experience. To address roadblocks:

  • Have a strategy in place that is objective-based and ties your content performance to it.
  • Account for all your channels, their priorities and strengths, and the customer experience within each.
  • Ensure that your teams understand that they will be supported with the proper resources to deliver on the new omnichannel initiatives.
  • Finally, make sure everyone is keyed into the ongoing upcoming efforts and understands the success of previous executions, as you roll out new milestones in your roadmap.

Remember, always bring internal challenges or issues back to the customer. Bring the focus back to the internal solution that is will create the best or most seamless customer experience. Try to leverage customer-facing centricity in all decisions that impact the omnichannel strategy.

Understanding Ongoing and Existing Projects Within Your Organization

Your people will have their “day jobs,” with tasks and project work that utilizes 100% of their time. If you want omnichannel to be successful, it is necessary to make the execution of an omnichannel strategy an integral part of their jobs. This dedication requires a commitment from the leadership of your business to push omnichannel as a key and ongoing initiative within all business units. Your business will have to balance the work it requires with other new and ongoing projects and initiatives.

Understanding ongoing and new projects within your organization will help you prioritize and set realistic goals for your omnichannel roadmap. It will also help you to create a strategy that does not force your stakeholders to an “either this omnichannel project or my project” perspective.

A lot of the risk of competing priorities can be ameliorated by creating a unified project calendar. Use a tool that others can effectively update when new projects arise and make sure the team reflects on this snapshot quarterly. Use this understanding as you create your omnichannel roadmap and designate the milestones. A comparable tool that can help you manage your content experiences is a unified content calendar. This ensures that you can support the new content created for all your efforts, including your omnichannel experiences. Note that you can expect to tweak existing content and create new content to support an omnichannel experience.

Creating Roadmaps to Manage the Vision and Expectations

You will need a roadmap to support your omnichannel strategy. You should have a roadmap at the business strategy level, but you will also create a roadmap for the new content projects and initiatives that the omnichannel experience requires. Remember that omnichannel is largely a content strategy effort, as next to your product or service, content will be required to support it and stand it up for success in all your customer-facing channels.

Queue your content roadmap off your business strategy roadmap. Leverage the following best practices:

  • Create a roadmap that reflects short-, mid- and long-term, comprehensive efforts (ones that build on each other).
  • Use existing analytics and show improvement with channel integration.
  • Identify success metrics for each initiative and ensure that all areas have a testing strategy for validation, especially around content performance.
  • Ensure a taxonomy and metadata tagging strategy that can support the omnichannel experience.
  • In the beginning, the focus is on testing and validation of the customer journey, user behavior, and the performance of content within each.
  • Modify and enrich the content experience over time.

Hold a quarterly review of your roadmap with your teams and make sure they understand where you are within it, any upcoming projects, and successes from previous projects.

To learn more, join us on March 14 for a live webinar about Omnichannel: The New Value Driver. Register here.

Hitting the Right Rhythm for Omnichannel Success

In a review of his customer experience with Nike, Orkiv founder and CEO Alex Senn makes an excellent case for what “omnichannel retail should look like.” While helping a friend purchase a new pair of shoes from a Nike store on Newbury Street in Boston, MA, Alex learned that Nike knows how to please its customers by delivering an exceptional shopping experience. Alex showcases how Nike delivers an effective omnichannel customer experience by:

  • Relying on immersive branding and cross-channel messaging in their stores and online.
  • Pushing customers to the website in their product displays in retail stores.
  • Allowing customers to purchase shoes online from a showroom store via their NikeID programs.
  • Integrating their website and in-store branding, providing a consistent visual and user experience by using similar products and colors in the display of products.
  • Allowing customers to procure a product “everywhere,” from multiple channels regardless of which channel they purchase it in, with a “frictionless checkout” process.
  • Leveraging store staff to operate in the capacity of what he calls “omnichannel closers.”

And, of course, each of these areas requires specific and customer-centric content to support a more seamless customer experience.

These are just a few of the highlights mentioned in his detailed and thoughtful article. The key takeaway? Nike has delivered an effective omnichannel customer experience and in doing so, they “increased customer confidence” and customer loyalty.

Our previous blog posts are focused on how to think through the critical steps necessary for operational readiness when one considers an omnichannel content strategy. This blog post focuses on hitting the correct rhythm, so an organization can maintain and evolve an effective content strategy. Here we examine the resources necessary to support ongoing omnichannel efforts and what you need to drive towards success.

Determining the Calculus for the Correct Resources

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
Red Adair

The right resources can make an omnichannel solution, and vice versa. In the previous blog post, we examined the various functional areas required for an omnichannel framework (Components of Success). When planning to assemble the necessary resources, you need to represent all areas within those considerations, or you won’t have a robust omnichannel solution. Your content will suffer. To quickly survey those areas again, you will need talented people in the following areas: business strategy; customer experience and audience experts (including, UX, user insights, research, etc.); content strategy, creation and maintenance teams; operations; legal; financial teams; technology; and last but far from least, data and analytics. Within these, you will require subject matter experts in personalization, customer profiling and customer experience, not to mention specific channel expertise—web, mobile, in-store, or disciplines such as SEO, and social media. Additionally, folks and content to execute the training that goes into supporting an effective sales force and customer-facing representatives. To put it mildly, you will need a deep bench of talent and expertise to stand up a successful omnichannel experience with meaningful and relevant content.

And yes, all of that really is necessary. It requires an investment in not just resources, but great resources—talent and expertise—to pull it off without issues. If all of that is overwhelming, take it as motivation to do due diligence in the strategic planning of your change campaign.

The first, most obvious, but often most difficult question to answer is: Do you have the resources necessary to implement an omnichannel initiative, and the means and executive buy-in for budgetary support over multiple years? Do you have the right mix of resources internally, and do they have the time, expertise, or capacity in their workweek to learn about omnichannel execution? Coming up with answers to these questions can prepare your organization for success. Have you considered that omnichannel is largely a content solution that requires new types of content and the modification of existing content to support it? It also requires optimized content production and publication workflows, which may or may not mean new systems such as a content management system.

Graphic listing types of content systems.

Look at the tech stack contextually.

Although you may have the right mix of resources, the next area to look at is the operational set up required to facilitate the necessary work. Internal operations should reflect and support the cross-channel customer experience and leverage the customer lifecycle to inform the business process and the necessary requirements to feed the technology stack. Take for example, content publishing workflows.  Examine and analyze the customer journey for each type of content. Next, revisit your content lifecycles or workflows for each type of content. Working backwards from the customer journey, build or optimize your workflows in a manner that will support the customers’ needs. Remember to include every user target: sales (internal, distributor) and the end user (the customer). Don’t forget to align your sales content with your marketing messaging.  Identify all content necessary to support the cross-channel customer experience, even if you cannot deliver on all of it at your initial launch. Finally, build performance into the entire content lifecycle model. By using customer journeys in developing an operational model for content, you will ensure that your content is customer-centric.

Building an Outcome from Meaningful Metrics

Tom Redman (AKA Dr. Data) has for years advocated for getting data out of IT departments and putting it into marketing or creating a separate domain for it. He also supports casting a wide, comprehensive net—including quantitative and qualitative data—to create meaningful outcomes from analytics. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, he writes: “Putting data to work includes the whole sequence, from data to insight to profit.” What does this mean for omnichannel? It means you need a performance-driven model that wraps itself around the customer experience and journey. This solution begins with defining objectives that are customer-centric and have impact at the business or brand level, rather than the singular channel level.

According to Hyundai CMO Dean Evans, clear metrics translated into defining the most important KPI’s—store visits and sales, and then looking at how “a digital campaign impacts the number of store visits, and how many are converting into sales. This information is so much more important to us than, say, tracking a single click or engagement with an ad.” Traditional marketing metrics, such as number of customers, number of sales, coupled with brand metrics such as brand amplification, user engagement with the brand, and loyalty to a brand are absolutely necessary to measure performance within the omnichannel experience. Which channels push the customer from one stage to the next in their relationship with the brand, and which micro-interactions within each channel are necessary for that result, should also be measured. The key here is starting with objectives that are enterprise-wide and meaningful to the entire organization and looking vis-à-vis the customer relationship with the brand.

Measuring cross-channel metrics is the greatest challenge for businesses, along with reporting and reacting on these in a relevant manner. For content, this means measuring the performance within and across various channels, so a business can make decisions for future content priorities. Although no tool can do this without some issues, a whole industry is developing called customer data platforms to deliver on more robust, federated customer profiles in ways that allow for real-time personalization. Make sure you have reporting dashboards in place before executing an omnichannel strategy, as these will validate the story you want to tell about business impact and can require much more effort than is apparent at first glance.

Driving for Success and Ensuring Future Sustainability

Our previous blog posts provided you the key ingredients necessary when contemplating an effective omnichannel content strategy. As you think about how to evolve your omnichannel approach, remember that it will always rely on customer-centricity. Tracking customer success and creating objectives that can deliver that will keep your priorities focused. Just as Dean Evans notes about Hyundai’s approach, objectives should predicate success on impact to the overall business. Remember to look at the KPIs and objectives within each channel and business group, and work with each to define a unified, holistic approach. Channel-specific objectives should derive from omnichannel objectives or at least complement each.

Omnichannel engagements require strong content strategy frameworks to support them. This means you should have an enterprise content strategy that looks at all customer-facing content and supports it through a performance-driven framework. As you measure the performance of your omnichannel efforts, ensure those results tie back to your content performance strategy. Leverage ongoing audits to measure your content’s success and improve it for the future.

A few final thoughts to help you along the way. Although omnichannel is complex and requires an enterprise focus, start small and build on the success. Try to boil the ocean and you will fail. Start with a single initiative and build on its success. For example: create an integrated product inventory—purchase a product online and pick it up in a store, or a single view of the customer at point of purchase regardless of channel. And finally, follow the blueprint we outline in our previous posts, and you will find that although complex, an omnichannel content strategy is not impossible to define to achieve.

To learn more, join us on March 14 for a live webinar about Omnichannel: The New Value Driver. Register here.