Due to the fact that it’s a relatively new idea, a number of myths relating to the omnichannel approach have emerged in recent years. To a large extent, these myths are based on a misunderstanding of what omnichannel systems are. Here, we take a look at 10 of the most common misconceptions surrounding omnichannel strategy and explain why people have got the wrong idea.
1. There’s no difference between an omnichannel and multi-channel approach
Though there are similarities between multi-channel and omnichannel approaches, there are important differences, too. To argue that multi-channel and omnichannel systems are the same thing is to completely misconstrue what omnichannel platforms are and what they can do for a business. While omnichannel engagement builds on the foundations of multi-channel communication, it goes far beyond what we’ve come to expect of this type of service.
A multi-channel approach is one that allows an organisation to engage and communicate with its customers or users across various channels. These channels might include the telephone, email, social media, or web-based text services, amongst other things. While this is a big step towards greater customer engagement – and is absolutely essential in the modern business environment – it does not provide the kind of benefits omnichannel systems can offer.
Omnichannel systems take this multi-channel approach and begin to build a far more holistic customer experience platform.
- It aims to allow users to switch between channels effortlessly and seamlessly, while also ensuring that information given and received in one channel is integrated into all others.
- This allows for greater consistency of information across all channels and breaks down the divisions between the various means of communication.
- It also ensures customers can use your services in the way they want to and that you can personalise and optimise their customer journey.
2. Omnichannel solutions are too complex to implement
There’s a common misconception that the switch to an omnichannel system is incredibly complex and often not worth the hassle. This doesn’t have to be the case. The vast majority of those organisations making the transition do so in phases, limiting disruption and greatly simplifying the process. While trying to transition from a multi-channel approach to an omnichannel system in one move is likely to cause difficulties, a step-by-step implementation allows for a smoother, less complex, and far tidier process.
One of the key benefits of a carefully-considered and well implemented omnichannel system is its ability to grow and adapt with the development of new technologies and operating requirements. Individual channels in a multi-channel approach tend to utilise different software from different providers, much of which isn’t entirely compatible.
This also causes problems when it comes time to update systems and technologies. With a dedicated omnichannel platform, integrating new technologies, software, and systems is far easier, as the platform is designed to allow for future growth and organic expansion. This means that omnichannel systems can actually simplify the adoption and integration of new technologies in the future.
3. Omnichannel solutions are too expensive to implement
Many organisations are concerned with the cost of implementing omnichannel services. While transitioning from a multi-channel system to an omnichannel approach isn’t necessarily inexpensive, it’s important to consider the financial benefits of such a switch. Recent studies have shown that;
- Reduced abandonment of calls – Figures show that well-implemented omnichannel practices can reduce call abandonment by 86%.
- Omnichannel solutions can offer large ROI – Though actually measuring ROI on omnichannel systems is complex for a variety of reasons, there is demonstrable proof that many businesses are achieve in greater excellent ROI.
- Customer retention – It is estimated that businesses with a strong omnichannel approach experience customer retention rates of 89%, compared to average of 33% for those businesses with weak omnichannel engagement.
It’s also necessary to consider those benefits that aren’t so easily monetised. For instance, the savings made by greater employee efficiency are difficult to measure directly, as is increased customer satisfaction with an organisation’s services. Try our online savings calculator to get an idea of how omnichannel could work for you.
4. There’s no need to pursue omnichannel solutions
Some organisations argue that there’s no need to pursue omnichannel solutions because a multi-channel approach is sufficient for their needs. We tend to disagree.
Multi-channel systems treat each channel as a separate and individual technology. Organisations utilising a multi-channel approach operate and maintain each of these channels as though they don’t work together to shape the customer experience. Simply put, this isn’t an efficient way of managing customer-facing technology or optimising the user journey.
We are already at a stage where customers are not only comfortable using multiple channels to make a purchase or request information, it is their preferred way of doing so. It is estimated that 98% of Americans with access to more than one device switch between them to complete tasks everyday. The movement towards user engagement with multiple devices and various channels is growing and it will only continue doing so.
By sticking with a simple multichannel approach, organisations risk falling behind the competition and alienating their customers. As omnichannel systems become more widespread, those who fail to make the transition will find themselves unable to satisfy their customers’ needs and unable to offer the streamlined customer service experience they desire.
5. The omnichannel approach is yet to be proven to work
Today, omnichannel solutions have been implemented to varying degrees across a number of businesses. They have demonstrated that they’re capable of streamlining communications between customers and businesses and of improving the customer experience. Consequently, those who haven’t integrated omnichannel services into their organisation are falling behind.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the absence of omnichannel solutions puts businesses at a distinct disadvantage. Retailers and other organisations recognise this fact too. Recent research has demonstrated that;
- 87% of retailers believe an omnichannel marketing strategy is critical or very important to their continued success.
- Customers are 23 times as likely to be satisfied with omnichannel engagement as they are with typical multi-channel solutions.
- Customers who receive omnichannel marketing spend 4% more in-store than they would otherwise.
- Customers who receive omnichannel marketing spend 10% more online than they would otherwise.
6. Omnichannel solutions benefit customers but not employees
The idea that omnichannel solutions benefit the customer but do nothing for employees is a common myth. Staff members are an absolutely essential component of any business and any restructuring of work systems should aim to make it easier for them to do their job, too.
An omnichannel approach benefits customers by providing employees with a more complete picture of the customer journey. This also benefits the employee as it improves the likelihood of them resolving an issue and allows them to engage with the customer on a more personal basis. They can see what contact points the customer has already accessed, what information they’ve received and provided, and utilise any other relevant data. This makes for a more rewarding, less frustrating work load that lends itself to greater employee satisfaction.
Greater employee engagement with customers, their work, and the organisation as a whole is advantageous for a number of reasons;
- It reduces staff turnover, ensuring businesses retain their most talented employees.
- It increases productivity amongst the workforce and reduces the number of errors made by staff.
- It improves the quality of the work being performed by employees.
- It lowers absentee rates.
7. Omnichannel platforms only work to improve the contact centre
The idea that omnichannel platforms don’t have a positive impact on any part of an organisation but the contact centre is clearly not true. Omnichannel solutions have far-reaching consequences for an entire business. While it’s easy to think of the omnichannel approach as beginning with the first point of contact and ending with the last, this isn’t an accurate description of the service.
Instead, omnichannel services influence every part of an organisation, from marketing, through logistics, to the finance department. A truly omnichannel approach will help manage every piece of information and each action point that results from customer engagement. It will provide accessible data on users and customers that can be utilised in various different ways. For instance, information concerning how a specific user navigates the various communication channels will impact how the marketing team targets its materials. The advantages of omnichannel communication aren’t isolated to the contact centre, they’re spread throughout an entire business and help streamline the whole user journey.
8. It isn’t worth moving away from a best-of-breed platform
While a best-of-breed approach to business technology does have its advantages, it can also cause large scale problems as you move forward. Business technology and digital systems are evolving at an incredible rate, often making it difficult for organisations to keep up with the pace of change. The ability to easily integrate new software into your existing platform is of the utmost importance to those businesses that need to constantly adapt and adopt new technologies in order to provide excellent customer service.
Omnichannel systems are all about providing employees with the right tools. With a best-of-suite vendor, businesses receive a single, integrated user interface, that provides employees with a more simple, efficient, and easy to use means of navigating various channels. When new software is required, integration is typically the vendor’s responsibility, meaning businesses aren’t forced to try and integrate the software across the multiple systems they have in place. In some cases, the introduction of an essential new piece of software could result in best-of-breed following businesses having to start from scratch and build an entirely new system. With the rapid pace of technological change in the modern marketplace, it makes sense to be moving towards a system that allows for easier integration of software.
9. Omnichannel solutions can be handled by CRM
Though Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategies are a powerful tool for businesses that want to better understand their customers, they’re not truly omnichannel. Instead, CRM is a means of improving multi-channel engagement. Generally, it focuses on improving the customer experience on individual channels, rather than tracking them across all channels and delivering a seamless omnichannel experience.
Similarly, CRM predominantly focuses on the customer, ignoring the human agents responsible for providing customer service. If the omnichannel approach is to provide effortless and unobstructed transitions from one channel to another, it’s important to take into account the performance of employees. It’s necessary to understand their skills and specialities and keep track of their workload, in order to ensure the right customer routing decisions are made and that the employee has access to all the necessary tools. While CRM will be an important part of an omnichannel strategy, it is not able to provide omnichannel solutions on its own.
10.Omnichannel solutions remain theoretical
One of the most pervasive myths surrounding omnichannel solutions is that there are still no real world examples of fully-functioning omnichannel systems. While the technology is still very much in development and can be expected to grow, change, and adapt as it become more widespread, there are a number of examples of businesses and organisations that have successfully implemented omnichannel services. It is true that some sectors have been quicker to adopt omnichannel solutions than others. For instance, retail stores have been early adopters and local governments are beginning to reap the benefits.
Oasis, the UK fashion chain, have made giant leaps towards a fully-integrated, omnichannel experience. Their work to integrate services across their brick-and-mortar stores, online shop, delivery logistics, and mobile app, is one of the most forward-thinking in the country. Similarly, John Lewis are considered one of the pioneers of the omnichannel customer experience. Their move towards more ‘Click + Collect’ branches has resulted in a radical restructuring of their operations to enable customers to use multiple channels to make their purchases. Outside of retail, local governments have begun to adopt omnichannel practices and are benefitting from fewer abandoned calls, quicker response times, and improved resolution rates. The idea that omnichannel systems remain a theoretical, future technology is clearly not true.
Having attempted to debunk 10 of the most common omnichannel myths, it’s clear that many of our preconceptions have no basis in reality. Much of what is said about the omnichannel approach ignores the fact that adoption of new technology and strategies is essential if businesses and organisations are to survive. Omnichannel solutions may be more expensive than many businesses would like, but they’re a fundamental tool of the future. The omnichannel approach is a means of adapting services to changes in consumer behaviour. It’s a tool that allows users to interact with businesses in the way they want to, when they want to. If businesses want to provide customers with the experience that they desire and demand, it’s necessary to adopt omnichannel practices as soon as possible.
Have a question or want further information on omnichannel? Our expert team have been providing customer contact solutions for over 25 years. Call us on 01344 706111 or drop us a line.