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The evolution of the omnichannel experience

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The omnichannel experience has become the defining centerpiece of customer interactions, customer expectations, and customer satisfaction. The very term "omnichannel" has substantially evolved from what it meant even a few short years ago, reflecting its increasing importance across verticals and use cases.

In the past, omnichannel capabilities were the means of engaging consumers with brands via the digital channel of their choice, while still maintaining a consistent experience across those mediums. They’ve become much more. Here are a few contemporary applications of an omnichannel journey:

Real time: Time—particularly for low-latent responses—is likely the greatest indicator of an organization’s successful facilitation of an omnichannel experience. Customer interactions require consistency across time as well as channels. Consumers increasingly expect real-time updates and an understanding of their behavior, regardless of how they engage with brands.

Beyond digital: It’s critical to realize that omnichannel implementations are not limited to digital means of communication. They also involve brick-andmortar stores, delivery services, and live demonstrations.

Beyond buying: Traditionally, omnichannel interactions were predicated on the buying journey. Today, they have burgeoned to include marketing, advertising, customer service, purchase returns, and customer loyalty programs.

The enterprise value of omnichannel implementations has grown commensurate to its expanding presence in the lives of consumers as they engage with the brands of their choice via their preferred means. Omnichannel experiences have become a way of cultivating such patronage, maintaining it, and broadening it accordingly.

“Omnichannel is no longer just a buying journey,” acknowledged Steve Zisk, Redpoint Global’s senior product marketing manager. “I want to influence how people are thinking about clothes or whatever it is I’m selling, how they’re sourcing information on it, and how they’re sharing information about what they bought. And, I’m no longer going to be purely tied into whatever the classic, old seasonal cycles are. I’m going to be tied to cycles that are much more around actions, events, and people.”

Channel of choice

In addition to the modern implications of what omnichannel engagement means, brands must also contend with a mounting number of channels with which to work with consumers. What’s notable about this fact is that some channels now naturally lend themselves to others, which makes omnichannel interactions even more complex. The impact of social media channels is particularly formidable in this regard, as they’re oftentimes paired with dedicated mobile phone applications and websites.  

"I can see something on TikTok, click on it inside TikTok, and it will launch Etsy or something else," Zisk pointed out. "We’re seeing a blurring of the lines between advertising sites and social media sites. What’s going to happen if I’m inside somebody’s walled garden site, like Facebook? How will they monetize my eyeballs and allow me to move into another site?"

There are also more traditional channels such as newsletters, regularly initiated emails, and mailers. Acoustic’s senior director of product Darryl Bolduc termed these "schedule-driven marketing campaigns intended to drive eyeballs and sales from a volume perspective." Other relevant channels include short message service (SMS) text messages, phone calls, brick-and-mortar interactions, connected devices, and interactive voice response (IVR) for customer service. "Unique touchpoints could also be through video chat or email follow-up," added Pooja Ojala, Veeva Systems’ VP of commercial content.

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