If you think the terms multichannel and omnichannel marketing are interchangeable, it’s time to fix that. Let’s break down the differences between the two and look at how businesses use them, then talk about the role a customer relationship management (CRM) system plays in that process—and in business success.
MULTICHANNEL, OMNICHANNEL—WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
The multichannel experience is what most companies offer up for customers today. That often consists of a corporate Web site, blog, email blasts, social media channels, customer service call center, and the like. And in most instances, these channels are being used separately—by marketing, by sales, and by customer service, without any connection, collaboration, or integration.
By contrast, an omnichannel experience requires careful thought and integration. A focus on omnichannel takes into consideration all channels and devices that a customer might use to interact with the company, and results in the development of an integrated approach to aligning messaging, goals and objectives and, perhaps most importantly, experiences for customers along every touch point, and every device or platform.
All omnichannel experiences use multiple channels, but not all multichannel experiences are omnichannel. If what you’ve developed in your business isn’t integrated and working together, it’s not omnichannel.
WHY THE OMNICHANNEL EXPERIENCE SHOULD ULTIMATELY BE YOUR GOAL
Creating omnichannel experiences is personified by one consistent, seamless customer experience across a variety of channels: The messaging is consistent, the look and feel is consistent, the experience you serve up is consistent. More importantly, the experience is efficient and does what a consumer needs it to do.
For example, a customer may start a dialog with a brand on a social media platform about a customer service issue, and end up live chatting with a brand representative about that same issue. Or the customer might start a purchase on a mobile device, get interrupted, and later take up (and complete) that transaction again on a desktop. This is where your ability to serve up a seamless experience for that customer can lead more quickly to a sale. It’s important to note that omnichannel isn’t just for B2C businesses; there are plenty of applications for omnichannel in the B2B realm as well.
An example of omnichannel at its best is when a customer calls a customer service center or help desk, and the rep answering the call instantly has all information about that customer’s history at her fingertips. Now the rep is ready to help without requiring the customer to jump through endless hoops to get a question answered or a problem solved. It’s customer service as it should be, and focuses on making everything about the customer experience efficient, effective, and highly satisfactory. And you know what highly satisfied customers do? They keep coming back.
A business benefit of creating omnichannel experiences is that you have a situation where no customer is treated like a stranger, and every interaction is optimized to deliver a great customer experience and spectacular customer service.
AND SPEAKING OF CUSTOMER SERVICE …
We are living in a customer-centric world, where every business runs the risk of becoming a commodity. Customers are more savvy, more connected, more empowered, and more distracted than ever before. But one thing is for sure: they expect customer service to be fast and effective. Unfortunately, that’s not always what they get. Studies have shown that customers as a whole overwhelmingly feel as though companies are more focused on sales than customer service. In fact, as this topic relates to B2B companies, a recent report found that only 23% of B2B marketers said they had a customer-centric organizational structure.
Let’s think about that. If your goal is to move from disconnected, siloed multichannel to a personalized, customer-centric omnichannel strategy, you’ll need to move away from a product-focused or channel-focused approach. Data shows it’s worth the investment; 63% of marketing teams ranked as “high performers” in Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing report, for example, say they’ve excelled at creating personalized, omnichannel experiences across all areas of their organizations. I think it’s fair to say they’re not high performers for nothing.
See Figure 1 below for a visual breakdown of the difference between multichannel and omnichannel.
Figure 1. Source: MultiChannel Merchant Blog
But whether you’re engaging in multichannel or are more evolved and using an omnichannel strategy, technology can, and will, play a big role in your ability to be successful. In order for that to happen, the most important thing you’ll need to integrate into your business operations is a CRM system. Let’s talk about why.
CRM: A CRITICAL TOOL TO FACILITATE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (AND SALES)
As mentioned, when discussing both a multichannel customer experience and an omnichannel one, neither can deliver real business benefits without a CRM system in place. A CRM system is a critical tool for tracking the customer path to purchase and overall experience with your organization. A CRM system also lays the foundation for success for your sales team, your marketing team, and your customer service team. Pretty important, right? Yet far too many businesses operate without one.
For just about any business in just about any vertical, a CRM system is table stakes when it comes to business growth and profitability. CRM affords the opportunity to stay connected to your existing customers on an ongoing basis and provide outstanding customer service. CRM allows your sales and marketing team to be able to efficiently and effectively find, score, nurture, and track leads, and connect with prospects with the right message at the right time in their individual customer journeys.
CRM allows your marketing team to market more effectively, your sales team to sell smarter, and your customer service team to respond more efficiently—all driven by real-time analytics and data at their fingertips. From an internal perspective, having the the right CRM tool in place makes things better throughout the organization as a whole, because it facilitates collaboration between sales, marketing, and customer service teams. All this results in a happier, more satisfied team and happier, more satisfied customers.
Whether you’re a business owner, sales manager, marketer, or head of customer service operations for your company, it’s likely you’re focused on similar objectives: Increased sales, increased profitability, happier customers, repeat customers. Understanding multichannel marketing and omnichannel marketing strategies and how they drive business and how they can drive business is important. Equally as important is integrating technology into your business operations, especially a CRM tool, so that you can operate without silos and with the benefit of real-time data and analytics driving your business operations. That’s a win for you and your team and a win for your customers and prospects!
Watch the recording of our SAP webinar, All Cylinders Go: How to Supercharge Your Marketing to Drive Growth and Profitability. I share valuable tips on how to supercharge your marketing in 2017 and beyond and provide insights that you can put immediately to use in your business. Watch here.
This article is written as part of a series of posts and brought to you in part by the team at SAP Digital. If you’re in the market for a CRM system or other software and services to power your business, visit the SAP Store.
This article was first published on Digital.SAP.com