A few years ago there was a great debate going on in the marketing world about “multichannel” versus “omnichannel”. Omnichannel was the new-comer and although it sounded flashy and exciting, it still had the hollow ring of a marketing buzzword. What was the difference between the two? And which should marketers pursue? No one quite seemed to know.
Fast forward a few years and omnichannel has cemented itself as a legitimate marketing discipline. And not just legitimate, but necessary.
However, just because most businesses know what it is and why they should be doing it, doesn’t mean that they’ve worked out the how. Omnichannel is becoming increasingly important to the customer experience, though – so it’s time for businesses to get serious about implementing it. Doing so will effect every facet of your organisation, from marketing and loyalty to logistics.
That’s why we’re thrilled to be featured in the latest edition of The Future of Retail, which is focused entirely on omnichannel. Read our article here.
Why does omnichannel matter to loyalty?
Why should loyalty marketers care about omnichannel? The answer is simple: Traditional loyalty is broken.
The main issue? Customer experience. In a recent article on “frictionless” loyalty, Rick Ferguson highlighted several ways the loyalty industry is ripe for disruption – and all of them centred around poor CX.
Loyalty programs are complex, impersonal, inflexible and often fall short of providing the value they’ve promised – both to the customer and the business. To win the loyalty of modern consumers, brands must do better in terms of the experience (and value) they provide.
Of course, a customer’s loyalty goes beyond the confines of your points program. Every interaction they have with you can impact their commitment to your brand.
And that’s where an omnichannel approach to loyalty comes in to play. Having a solid omnichannel strategy in place means you can provide consistently relevant experiences on whichever channel a customer chooses to engage with. And these personalised interactions create positive emotional connections, which breed long-term loyalty.
Although omnichannel is only one element of the customer experience, it’s a foundational one, so it’s important for businesses to get it right. Marketers must be wary of over-simplifying the implementation – an omnichannel approach to loyalty requires more than just adding a mobile app or an online portal alongside the traditional, physical membership card.
This is important, so it bears repeating: An omnichannel strategy does not simply mean your loyalty program is available on every channel. Rather, it means your customer interactions, as a whole, are always personalised and always focused on earning long-term loyalty, wherever they occur.
What does this look like practically? When a customer engages with your brand, whether in store, online or via a mobile app, they should feel recognised and appreciated.
That means their past loyalty (e.g. purchases, advocacy, reward redemptions) should be acknowledged, and their continued custom should be appreciated. The way you communicate with them should show that you remember who they are, what they’ve bought, how they’ve been feeling about your business, how valuable they are to you, etc. And this must remain consistent even if (or rather, when) they switch to another channel.
Being consistent, relevant and personal during every customer interaction – regardless of where it takes place – is essential to creating an excellent experience and driving long-term loyalty.
It’s a favourite saying of our CEO that customers want to feel “pleased, valued and cared for” – and that applies across every channel. When you play to these emotions, both business and consumer will win.
Ready to build loyalty into your omnichannel strategy? Be sure to check out our article on the new era of loyalty: http://bit.ly/2ka7gdQ