Cross-channel customer experience is the brand’s ability to interact with the customers across touchpoints supported by multiple channels. It is similar to a relay race where touchpoints (runners) offer a seamless transition (pass the baton) between channels (tracks) until the completion of the customer journey (race).
However, the cross-channel customer marketing strategy is quite siloed in this digitally dominant era. These silos not only limit cross-engagement opportunities but also badly affect the customer experience. As marketing channels continue to grow, it is becoming even more challenging to conquer customer delight.
83% of consumers state that the ability to move from one channel to another is desirable, but only 50% of businesses support such cross-channel interactions. — Genesys
Mastering the cross-channel customer journey while staying relevant should be the goal of your digital commerce strategy. But, how do you manage to portray a coherent image of the brand that offers an orchestrated experience altogether? It might look daunting at first, but it can be as easy as it gets.
All that an organization need is to align technological advancements with changing customer expectations.
Before we get on to understanding how to nail cross-channel customer experience, let’s understand how cross-channel vs omnichannel experience are different from each other.
What is the Difference Between Cross-Channel and Omnichannel?
Let’s say you have multiple channels for customer interactions, i.e., email, website, mobile app, social media presence, and even the brick-and-mortar setup. Let us understand the two scenarios that help us draw a line between cross-channel and omnichannel customer experience.
What is Cross-Channel Customer Experience?
Mark is a customer who wishes to purchase a new laptop. He makes a few searches across the web, but for some reason does not complete the purchase. The following day he receives a personalized email for the high-quality laptops links that he could consider along with discount coupons to attract his attention.
He clicks on the link, finds a fair-priced deal, and places the order. The purchase is followed by an acknowledgment mail along with a survey around his digital customer experience. The acknowledgment mail also includes another discount coupon that could be used in both online and offline stores.
This was possible because the customer behavior with the website was recorded and shared across channels to maintain a logical progression of a customer journey.
That is how we can define cross-channel customer experience,.i.e.,
Cross-Channel Experience= Multiple channels + Connected Channels
What is Omnichannel Customer Experience?
Referring to the same analogy, let’s talk about the after purchase experience of Mark. Now he wishes to buy a few accessories for his laptop. He visits the website again, and to his surprise is welcomed with spot-on recommendations for the accessories, without even having to look for it. Also, his social media feeds showcase carousel ads for the recommended products.
When he adds the accessories to the cart, the coupon code he received via email gets automatically applied. Mark also gets a suggestion to visit his nearest store for tangible customer service experience. This is how we define the Omnichannel customer experience.
Here all the channels involved are freely flowing data rivers that communicate effortlessly to offer to keep a customer in the loop,i.e.,
Omni-Channel Experience = Multiple channels + Interconnected Channels
With that clear, let’s move ahead to unravel the five-step approach to improve cross-channel customer experience.
Five Strategies To Master Cross-Channel Customer Experience
Emphasizing on offering a cross-channel solution is very likely to bring accolades for your eCommerce brand in terms of ROIs, recognition, and appreciation.
Cross-channel marketing can increase your response rates by 35%. – IWCO Direct
Here’s how to strategize around cross-channel integration for making your marketing efforts count.
1. Maintain Limited Channels to Reduce Clutter
There are numerous channels for engaging a customer for your digital commerce business — website, app, email, social media, AdWords, newsletters, etc. The number of channels across the web will never stop adding. And, if you think of going all-inclusive, chances are you’ll be losing out on revenues.
In the first place, do all the channels even deserve your time? The fact is — even if a competitor gained highly on ROIs from a particular channel, it doesn’t mean it will do that for you too. For example, Facebook Messenger helps businesses grow by enabling real-time communication of a brand with the customers.
Over 20B messages exchanged between People and Businesses every month. – Messenger
But, before you rely on Messenger to enhance the brand experience, do contemplate — are your target customers even on Facebook? If you are targeting baby boomers or Generation X, the chances are that you are hitting the wrong chords. Because there is no point in spending hours building a communication channel that will be like walking an empty street.
It is a good idea to not focus on hitting maximum channels, instead focus on mastering cross-channel experience across them.
2. Show Consistency around Design Patterns
The first thing that hits the customer’s eyes who interact with the customer channel is its visual design. This design is your brand’s personality that needs to reverberate consistency throughout, irrespective of it being a brick-and-mortar setup or a cashierless store setup like Amazon Go.
You can’t be telling a different story on different communication channels. Whether it is the overall design, feel, images, fonts, or even the layouts; they should be consistent across touchpoints. This builds credibility and trust for the brand and proves beneficial for your cross-channel retailing efforts.
You can take the example of Nike here. Their simple swoosh logo that has existed over the years aligns with Nike’s website design. Be it their CTAs or the marketing copies, the black and white theme sticks to the brand’s overall image engraved in consumers’ minds.
No matter what cross-channel management strategy you deploy, the trick is simple — Make your experience design consistent so that it imitates a single brand impression throughout.
3. Focus on Team Skill Nurturing
Successful cross-channel alignment starts with teamwork, which works in your favor when the different teams collaborate and communicate regularly. Also, nurturing their skills, i.e., focusing on building cross-functional teams should hold equal priority.
Here’s are some skills that contribute to a seamless cross-channel customer experience journey:
a. Video Production
Webinars, product videos, and brand story videos are on the rise across channels. End consumers not only love it but also respond to it instantly. Thus, video production is a skill that can help create videos that depict your brand-story perfectly.
80% of video marketers say video has directly helped increase sales. – Wyzowl
b. Social Media Expertise
People are growing their presence all over the social media platforms. This calls for a massive opportunity for you to invest in social media experts who know the forwards and backward of these advertising tools and can integrate it into cross-channel campaigns.
Social networks are the biggest source of inspiration for consumer purchases with 37% of consumers finding purchase inspiration through the channel. – PWC
c. Content Strategists
Developing engaging and unique content weighs high in this customer-centric digital world. Whether it is the website or the app content, blogs, emails, newsletters, or even social media posts, you need to develop a relevant and consistent strategy. Hiring skilled content marketers would be your best bet here.
70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. – Hubspot
d. Analytics Experts
Quantifying your customer experience strategy is the job of a cross-channel analytics expert. They are specialized individuals who can help you figure out the measure of the impact that a particular channel creates. With knowledge of tools like Google Analytics, these experts can successfully narrow down your CX strategy.
Marketing leaders are 1.3X as likely as mainstream marketers to have a documented data and analytics strategy. – Think With Google
4. Incorporate Cross-Channel Analytics
Guesswork does not work when it is about getting your customer expectations right. It would help if you worked it out with data-driven statistics that cannot go wrong. This is possible with having CRMs (Customer Relationship Management System) or even DXPs (Digital Experience Platform) to make the tracking simpler.
These systems help unify customer’s data by representing it as a single entity. The best deal would be to integrate CRM and DXP for fool-proof customer engagement. Both systems can help integrate content, data, and brand voice. CRM will provide you with all the customer insights that will be consistent across channels.
Further, you can act on this data to offer a good cross-channel eCommerce experience. And, DXPs will help manage touchpoints with the help of various integrated technologies.
5. Consider Customer Journey Mapping
What path do your customers travel when browsing for a product on your website or app? That is the cross-channel customer journey you ought to track for offering to-the-point customer experience.
It might seem challenging to connect these data points, but customer journey mapping helps understand your customers. It is like shadowing your customers and experiencing a walkthrough of their journey with your brand.
Maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%. – McKinsey
Consider creating buyer personas around target customer groups, and track them around your active channels. Where do they leave? What do they do? How much time do they spend on the digital commerce channel? Is your digital commerce strategy doing you any good? Answers to all these questions lie in customer journey maps that further help in mending the existing gaps.
The Existing Challenges with Cross-Channel Customer Experience
It is high time that businesses realize that it is the right customer experience marketing strategy that drives a business towards growth.
No matter how interactive or responsive your touchpoints are, it will all go in vain if they are not interconnected. You cannot leave the context of your customers.
To move one step forward, you need to see for yourself – What stops you from offering the right cross-channel customer experience? Like, it could be one of the following:
1. Siloed Structures
Different teams are spread across the organization with different goals and objectives to cover at the end of the day. Where one team might be handling the email conversations, one might be concerned with social media, and the other might be concerned with the website communications.
The problem is the missing shareability here. Everyone’s been working in silos — the-upshot — fractured experiences across touchpoints.
2. Lack of Processes
Organizations have a mindset that it would take a major part of their resources to intersect the different fragments of customer experiences. That only big players in the market with maximum capital bandwidth available can pull that off.
In short, lack of governance over processes and the mind blocks keep companies from getting ahead.
3. The Message Frequency Challenge
The stakes of a customer not noticing a personalized message are high. You may bombard their mails or push-notifications, but in the end, they might get frustrated.
And, with the customers losing interest, there is nothing much you can do.
4. The Privacy Wars
A problem with the iOS users — Apple’s privacy protocols do not allow much of data transparency. That makes it tricky to track customers across touchpoints.
And, then there is Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) that adds to the challenges further by introducing stringent protocols.
Working around cross-channel customer experience should be your number one priority because the objective is simple — never lose context with your customers. If you drive your attention to customer needs, reaching your expected goals will not be a far-sighted dream.
To start with, get your understanding of what cross-channel customer experience implies. Next, look for the missing pieces in your cross-channel customer experience strategy. And, finally, implement a change according to what suits your business needs best. This way, you will be able to create a 360-degree experience for your search, buy, and service model, i.e., you will be able to implement an optimal cross-channel strategy.
An organization’s objective revolves around satisfying and serving its customers, and that is where most of the efforts should magnify.