Best Practices in HR
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Alyson Stone
  April 18, 2019

What is the optimal contact mix for an omnichannel strategy?

We’ve established the fact that there is no such thing as a standard customer.

A business, at any point in time, will be interacting with three or four generations of customers, and as we know, the channel preferences of customers across generations is different. The same customer who would prefer to order food online through chat would want to get on a call with customer support in case it has to do with a medical appointment or an emergency.

So, what is the optimal contact mix for your omnichannel strategy?

This is a question that every business that is thinking of an omnichannel strategy must look to answer. A large number of companies are racing to incorporate all the digital channels available in the market to stay ahead of competition and remain relevant to the customers. What is missing  is the strategy that is needed to determine the right mix of these channels. This is resulting in business heads making hasty decisions like making large investments in these digital platforms, and most often, not in the right proportion.

An omnichannel strategy does not mean having a presence on every channel that is there in the market. Simply adding more channels and reducing the time it takes to serve your customer does not improve customer satisfaction.

You need to consider multiple other factors when deciding your omnichannel strategy:

  • Who really is your customer?

This includes studying every aspect of your customer’s profile. Who are your customers and what are their preferences and patterns for engaging with you? If a majority of your customers are millennials, they would prefer to have their problem solved over chat rather than via phone. Depending on who forms the majority of your customer segment, the rate of adoption of a new channel will vary. How customers will interact with you across channels, and how they will behave if a new channel is added also varies across customer segments. Research says that traditional service channels are used only after web channels have been exhausted. This is especially true for millennials and the trend is only increasing.

  • What does your industry demand?

It isn’t always correct to say that a particular customer segment will behave only in a particular manner. The way your customer interacts with you depends largely on which industry you belong to and the services you provide. If you’re a retail store or a food delivery service, your customer may prefer to interact with you over chat rather than call. However, if you’re in the medical or financial sector, your customers may prefer to talk to you over the phone to have their problems solved immediately. Therefore, the proportion of your investments across different channels will depend on your industry.

  • What is your short term and long term business strategy?

The decision to add a channel to your mix depends on your short and long term business strategy. If you’re looking to expand in certain regions or into a new customer segment where a particular channel is more prevalent, adding that to your strategy would help. It is also necessary to determine what percentage of your existing customers will shift if a new channel is added. At this point, evaluating your competitors omnichannel strategy would be useful in determining the right channel mix for your business. You will also have to take your sales targets into consideration. For instance, if there is a certain target you want to achieve and a particular channel can help  you do that, then including that channel in your mix would yield results.

  • Have you thought about the costs?

Cost constitutes a major part of your business strategy. You will have to think of what it would cost to add a new channel, what  investments are required at the backend, and what it will take to incentivize customers to shift to the new channel. Moreover, you will have to account for legal costs and regulatory compliances to incorporate the channel in your contact mix.

Answer the above questions and you’ll arrive at the ideal omnichannel strategy for your business.

Remember, the lack of a sound omnichannel strategy can result in high-value customers being served through inappropriate channels resulting in lower customer satisfaction. It also increases price sensitivity and operating costs for the organisation.

Adding more channels does not guarantee better customer experience. Choosing the right channels for customer engagement and in the right proportions will help build contextual and mutually beneficial relationships with customers. Supplementing it with the right resources, people and processes will help further optimize your omnichannel mix.