Designing Winning Customer Experience in an Omnichannel World


Designing Winning Customer Experience in an Omnichannel World

By Special Guest
Mark Smith, President of Kitewheel
  |  July 28, 2016

The entire marketing world is talking about omnichannel, and for good reason. Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89 percent of their customers, compared to 33 percent for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement, according to Aberdeen (News - Alert) Group.

And so as customer touchpoints continue to proliferate in our omnichannel world, CMOs are investing heavily in an ever-growing number of systems to support interactions on them. Yet, something’s not adding up, as research overwhelmingly confirms that brands, and their systems, are failing to deliver the winning experiences consumers expect. According to Bain & Company, 80 percent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree.

So, where are brands going, and what can they do to fix it?

Embrace the Omnichannel Mindset

At the highest level, brands need to understand that to have a meaningful impact on the customer experience in an omnichannel world, they need to manage the customer’s omnichannel journey. This is far different from just managing the customer experience at certain touchpoints, which, as McKinsey acknowledged in its 2016 report, misses the bigger and more important picture. And that is the customer’s end-to-end experience across channels and over time. This is a fundamental shift in mindset – and strategy – that brands need to embrace to achieve omnichannel success.

Unify (News - Alert) Logic

For those that have embraced the journey mindset, getting going can be difficult due to the siloed nature of systems – most of which were really only designed to manage touchpoints. With all the marketing systems running in silos this means that channels become siloed, data is siloed, and most importantly business logic – the stuff that actually defines the customer experience – is also siloed. Unifying this logic is actually the most important part of delivering a journey. So, rather than delivering disjointed experiences across channels, systems can work together, and brands can start to see an actual return on their investments. In the past, brands may have attempted to build out this type of centralized logic between systems manually, but today there is an emerging market of solutions designed to do just that – and more.  

Define the Opportunity

Beyond understanding their business and the larger marketing ecosystem of which they’re a part, brands first and foremost need to understand the current journeys their consumers are on. Insight into current channel behavior can help brands figure out what the current conversion pathways are, as well as any barriers to conversion – a great starting point for then mapping out winning ways to nudge or encourage behavior that will improve the customer experience.

Start With Quick Wins

Rather than trying to boil the proverbial ocean and end up in a state of omnichannel paralysis, brands (and their agencies) should focus on quick wins. Brands should brainstorm potential journeys, rules, and logic that could resolve the challenges at hand using the data and channels that present the lowest barrier to entry, while having the greatest potential impact. The key to all of these quick wins is that they should be easy to conceptualize, easy to get off the ground, and rapidly generate immediate engagement and revenue, while providing a proof point for expansion.

Test, Measure, Refine, & Expand

Again, to make omnichannel efforts less daunting, limit initial complexity and reduce potential disruption to existing environments. Brands can conduct small-scale A/B tests where only a portion of traffic or transactions are initially siphoned off into ongoing customer journeys. Select specific, relevant KPIs to measure success such as visitor engagement, lower abandonment rates, content consumption targets, improved conversion rates, etc. If the program achieves a certain level of success against KPIs, plan for its expansion, or refine as needed.

Mark Smith is president of Kitewheel (

Edited by Alicia Young
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