Can you recall your relationship with a friend? Pick any friend, doesn’t have to be your best friend. But pick a human, your pets don’t qualify for this one.
How do you and your friend connect? You usually text them before calling, or sometimes you just call them first and then move over to texting for the remainder of your conversation. And when you’re both not too busy, you meet up.
When you meet, you simply continue the conversations you’ve been having, because you both know what you talked about over the phone, while texting and what you can talk about when you meet.
Your relationship doesn’t depend on how you connect with each other.
In a nutshell, it’s channel-less.
Who Should be Aware of Channel-Less Customer Experience?
If you’re someone responsible for crafting experiences that resonate with your customers and result in higher conversion rates, keep reading.
If you’re a CMO in the digital commerce space, this one’s especially for you – you’re at the forefront of shaping your brand’s customer experience, it’s you who decides how your customers connect with you.
What is Channel-Less Customer Experience?
Based on omnichannel experiences, its an evolved marketing/sales approach where online businesses look at forming valuable and meaningful relationships with their customers instead of connecting with them individually over separate channels – to craft a better customer experience of their brand.
Just remember your relationship with a friend. It doesn’t matter how, as long as you can connect, and the conversations don’t lose context.
How Does it Differ from Omnichannel Customer Experience
Omnichannel customer experience is more channel-focused, including sales, marketing, and customer service. Brands usually approach this by being present on every channel they think their customers are actively using, to make it easier for their customers to communicate with them.
These customer-brand touchpoints can be anything from social media to online forums to physical stores. But there’s no holistic view of the customer-brand relationship.
Omnichannel experiences don’t allow brands to collectively look at all the data from all different touchpoints and then respond to the customer – which makes for a slightly disconnected experience for the customer.
If you’re paying attention to crafting great CX for your brand, you might have to start thinking differently.
Why and How is the Industry Preparing for Channel-Less Customer Experiences?
Channel-less isn’t just a buzzword. Smart people steer clear of buzzwords that don’t last more than a year. The smart thing to do is understand where these buzzwords are coming from and what they can tell us about the state of an industry.
Smooth CX: Reducing Friction for the Customer
If your customer has to hop from one channel (or platform) to another and go through different emotions to get the same job done, you’re letting friction push the customer away – possibly losing more business.
Wouldn’t it make more sense if your customers could connect with your brand as they connect with other people? (brands already use emotion to attract the type of audience they want to sell to).
With the information about all customer interactions across sales, marketing, and customer service in one place, you will get a better sense of how to help your customers get what they’re looking for – or pre-emptively, recommend what they might need.
Magical, isn’t it?
Data & Automation: The Power You’re Missing Out On
If you’re consolidating data from all customer interactions, you’re going to need more than just another platform. AI-aided automation is going to play a critical role in making channel-less experiences a sensible CX strategy.
There are various automation tools out there that can help brands become channel-less, but like all technology, these tools come with their set of limitations.
Some aren’t cost-effective, while others don’t fit into every business model.
Results: To Die For
An omnichannel experience strategy enables brands to sell directly to the customer, based on the channel (or platform) their customers frequent to. But this experience lacks the advantage of context; the context you have when you know about the customer’s past interactions with your brand.
It’s similar to how a doctor takes patient history into account before a diagnosis.
Customer interaction history across all touchpoints helps in delivering relevant, personalized content to your customers, making it easier to connect with your customers – all adding up to an exceptional CX strategy.
When your customers feel connected to your brand, they’re far more likely to buy from you and keep coming back. All because you make your customers feel like they’re being taken care of.
With all the effort you’ll put into setting up a channel-less strategy, you’d actually be taking care of your customer’s needs.
Who is Executing Channel-Less Customer Experiences?
Amazon Go – Watch this video to know how Amazon is doing it with their retail stores in the US.
Characteristics of a Channel-Less Customer Experience
Let your customers interact with your brand and products from anywhere. Their buying or consideration (part of the buyer’s journey) experience should smoothly transition from online to offline, from the web to mobile and vice versa.
Let’s assume a customer just bought an item, and coincidentally, you’ve opened a new store in their neighborhood. You should be able to send a notification to your customer, informing them about the new outlet and how they can pick up their newly bought item directly from there.
Click n’ collect services are an example of how brands help customers move between online and offline touchpoints to complete their shopping experience. But this kind of accessibility stays limited to the pickup/drop-off aspect of shopping – with other touchpoints working in isolation.
Continuing the above example – a store employee should also be aware of the purchases done by nearby customers so that when the customer walks in, an employee can instantly recognize them and help complete the shopping experience.
A truly personalized experience can’t be superficial. It has to be deeply connected to your brand’s shopping experience.
Almost every online store offers a wide range of payment, shipping, and delivery options. But how adaptive are they? The devil’s in the details of how you handle failed payments, misplaced shipments, and missed deliveries.
You might have data on all of the above, but are you creating an experience that adapts to your customer’s projected needs and buying habits?
Easier and faster returns, better customer support, providing alternatives – all of that should be contextual to each customer.
Give your customers the information they’re looking for and make sure it’s not hard to find. Your customers should be able to access their entire purchase history (online or offline).
Moreover, let them know how you use their data. Customers should be able to control how their data is used or stored. Allow them to delete personal data; that way, you build trust.
Privacy is a rising concern for many consumers, and they’re more likely to buy from brands that are ensuring customer privacy.
‘One size fits all’ doesn’t work. In our new AI and ML-driven world, creating more localized experiences in terms of the content, products, payment methods, etc. will always help your customers trust your brand more – making it easier for them to buy from you.
When your brand presents itself with local relevance to your customers, it can potentially increase your conversion rates by over 350%. There’s no room for second-guessing there.
Here’s How You can Get Started
A channel-less CX that works with unadorned simplicity for your customers isn’t easy to implement. But it works, and it’s probably going to bring about the next major shift in how brands sell (online or offline).
It’s simple as a concept, but not as easy to implement. You need experts across tech, design, and data – working in cross-functional teams, and most importantly – deliver value consistently.
That’s how you can craft a customer experience that works.