May 05

Creating lasting brand loyalty through connected customer experiences

BLOG May 5 2021

Omni or multi-channel?

In a world of increasingly fragmented customer journeys, brands must act as the glue that holds the customer experience together. Think with Google reports that only 5% of companies are leveraging their 1st party data to make a more relevant CX. However, in an ever-more competitive market, the onus is on companies to gain and retain customer loyalty.

The concept of multi-channel customer journeys is not new. However, a key difference between omni and multi-channel experience is independence. Omnichannel implies that the experience is cohesive and interlinked wherever the customer makes contact, and that they will cruise between channels. Meanwhile, multi-channel can mean that the path from customer awareness to purchase occurs on one channel, and that each channel will have its own strategy and objectives.

A key driver of customer loyalty is a CX. The path to purchase should be frictionless, whether the customer is engaging online, in-store or through a combination of channels. A holistic and transparent overview of the customer journey is now integral to understanding where you can add value to your customer at each point along their path to purchase, with personalized content solutions at every touchpoint now becoming the norm.

Leading examples

Some top examples of brands successfully delivering a ubiquitous customer-centric experience are Burberry, Sephora and Starbucks.

Burberry has taken a social-first strategy to engage with their target audience of Gen Z and millennials. Burberry’s intent to support a frictionless path to purchase was highlighted when they joined Instagram as a launch partner of the ‘shops’ feature on the social platform. The feature allows Instagram users to shop their favorite brands without leaving the app. Burberry adopted a similar social commerce approach in China, where they made their product line available on WeChat.

Sephora’s cross-channel capabilities are an often-cited example of CX best-practice. The cosmetics retailer uses digital tools to connect with the customer on all touchpoints, including a virtual try-on tool that can be used on mobile or activated in-store. Sales staff are also armed with digital libraries to allow them to look up a shopper’s profile and offer more relevant personalized recommendations.

Sephora’s email marketing campaigns demonstrate how to reach out to customers to bring attention back to their stores – both online and physical. Sephora sends periodic emails to remind customers to replenish products that they have bought previously, to let them know about complementary products that they might like to try, and to retarget customers who have abandoned their cart at check-out, as well as proactive emails notifying customers about loyalty rewards.

Sephora also utilizes mobile app services to prompt website or in-store visits and support purchase decision-making. When app-users are in a Sephora store they can receive offer notifications on their phone, and they can scan products with their phone to read online reviews from other buyers. Sephora also follows up post-purchase with product recommendations based on what the customer has purchased.

Effective omnichannel personalization requires the thoughtful planning and consideration of the entire end-to-end customer journey. This involves not only a customer’s experience on a retailer’s website or in-store, but also pre- and post-visit communications.

Pre-visit personalization may be based on location-based notifications such as those just mentioned at Sephora, or context-specific ads to drive awareness and consideration. Meanwhile, post-visit communications such as follow-up content about their purchase or prompting a product review can strengthen customer engagement and encourage repeat purchase.

Starbucks upped their investment in their CX and rewards program when the pandemic hit and resulted in a fall in physical footfall. They took the issue of reduced contact with customers as an opportunity to improve their digital touchpoints via mobile orders and drive-through services, which increased downloads of the Starbucks Rewards app by 17% in Q3 compared to Q2.

Despite a 38% YOY fall in revenue, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson believes that the long-term digital differentiation they are establishing in response to the challenging conditions of COVID-19 will ultimately increase their competitive advantage.

How to integrate your CX

A strong CRM program underpins CX design. It is crucial that you understand the different paths to purchase and touchpoints your audience has with your brand. This then dictates the content that you send out – and who and when you send it.

As well as originating and adapting content across channels and platforms, at Tag we help brands develop agile and adaptable content strategy to clearly communicate with their target audience through relevant delivery channels. The true power of this new customer experience lies in a brand’s ability to align their content with multiple different consumer touchpoints in a cost-effective and scalable way. By maximizing relevancy, we drive engagement with customers like never before.

In a similar vein, we act as brand guardians to safeguard carefully curated brand identities across formats and touchpoints. From imagery and logo integrity, to tone of voice, brands need to implement robust processes that deliver consistent and accurate content. Maintaining strong band equity is especially difficult in a growing culture of marketplaces over brand websites. Consumers search for solutions rather than brands. This requires a refocusing of efforts towards infusing their marketplace product pages with their brand identity.

One of the major benefits that eCommerce channels hold over their physical counterparts is opportunity to continually test and optimize content based on real-time customer data. Rigorous testing efforts take time and effort but have tangible results for businesses – less abandoned carts, increased return on ad spend and increased conversion rates.

In the current economic climate, with consumer preferences and priorities continually changing, a test and learn approach becomes even more relevant, affording brands the opportunity to gauge how different consumer segments are reacting to their products/services and messaging daily.

However, real-time data can also be derived from brick-and-mortar stores. There is a growing expectation for brands to embrace phygital journey design that connects the online and the offline. In-store personalization requires making use of digital in the physical space, increasing the presence of digital touchpoints in physical stores, for example, tablets for sales assistants or customer-facing digital screens.

Although the pandemic has highlighted how convenient and reliable online shopping can be compared to in-store, many people will miss the human experience of interacting with products and people in stores. By breaking down the barriers between physical and digital, brick-and-mortar stores can strive to deliver the best of both experiences.

Adobe highlighted the difficulties that companies are having making phygital a reality in-store. Deloitte similarly emphasized the call for a ‘phygital’ experience that blurs the lines between physical and digital spaces in order to build a cohesive omnichannel experience. This would not only provide a more engaging experience, but also bridge the information gap for businesses with customers who expect recognition across all channels.

Too often, design of brick-and-mortar stores is affected more by legacy than ecosystem coordination. Physical space is not separate from the digital offering. It should be a considered and integrated component of the end-to-end customer experience. EY explained that regardless of the customer activity type (browsing, paying, collecting, etc.), all types of activity are perceived to be with the brand, not the channel. Hence, all touchpoints should be seamlessly connected in the customer journey and be embedded with the brand’s identity.

A study by McKinsey has shown that companies who are able to personalize the experience across both physical and digital channels can achieve a revenue increase of 5 to 15% across their entire customer base. Furthermore, an agile omnichannel strategy will better-prepare you to adapt to changeable customer behavior, markets and external conditions. Whether you are looking to improve your current offering, or protect yourself from future uncertainty, schedule a call with Tag to discuss how we can support you.