Today’s retail challenge: Offering many channels, but one customer experience
Got a website with a compelling online presence. Tick. Ramped up use of social media for customer contact. Tick. Invested in smartphone apps. Tick. Invested in customer service contact centers. Tick. You’ve ticked all the right boxes but still you’re not confident that your customers are receiving the best ‘experience’ from your brand. So what’s going wrong?
The simple answer for many retailers is that while they are now present in all the right channels, they’ve created information silos where customers are increasingly frustrated by inconsistent levels of engagement depending on how and where they’re interacting with a particular brand.

Speaking to customers with one voice
Consumers are coming to expect a more integrated approach from retailers than they’ve been used to in the past, a consistent customer experience no matter what the channel. But they often don’t get it. In fact, more than half of shoppers surveyed in Capgemini’s “Digital Shopper Relevancy” study said most retailers are not consistent in the way they present themselves across channels.
To deliver a consistent experience, retailers have to make their channels converge instead of operating them as discrete units. Burberry’s high-tech flagship store in London has been designed on ‘digital-first’ principles for shoppers who spend more time online than in stores – shoppers who are used to researching their purchases comprehensively, absorbing high-quality photography, music and video, and serving themselves.
In an industry where this kind of convergence sets the standard, customer service still offers many areas for improvement. From online self-help that doesn’t resolve people’s problems to automated telephony that doesn’t seem to talk the same language as the caller, customers are often let down by brands which haven’t got the hang of the all-channel approach. Retailers are missing opportunities to build loyalty.

The future for telephony, mobile and online
Our work on channel strategy with the 190 organizations who use Odigo, our cloud-enabled platform for multichannel customer contact, shows that in a world where channels have multiplied in a short time, telephony is still fundamental. Among our clients, voice remains the most commonly offered channel for customer service, used by 92% of organizations we surveyed last year. It remains the common denominator customers turn to when they get stuck.
But mobile and online are growing, especially as features like virtual assistants and web chat make them more customer-friendly. A trend towards convergence is clear in our customers’ use of mobile apps or websites: 79% of them make it possible to get in touch via telephone. Within 12 months a third are bringing in features like Smart Call, a visual IVR which allows customers to join the queue to speak to an agent from their smartphones before they place a call.
All of this demands investment in smart technology that enables a consistent, multichannel experience where voice remains a core component. It should enable customers to be routed to the right person, whatever the channel, and to get the information they need whatever their channel choice. By sidestepping many integration barriers and reducing costs, cloud platforms like Odigo are making this vision affordable and achievable for retailers, and giving their customers something to love.–9AzxOWSg