Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash.
Moving to an omnichannel business model can feel like an overwhelming task. Here are some quick and easy ways to get started.
Look at the vision of pretty much any retail financial services brand, the word omnichannel is in there. Everyone's got the message: customers today want to do business wherever and whenever they want.
They expect to switch channels seamlessly. They expect the same great experience from your website, your app, your contact centre and your branches. And the bar is high: customers are comparing you to Amazon, Apple and John Lewis – as well as your competitors in financial services.
But I'd bet if a mystery shopper interacted with any of those businesses talking up their omnichannel vision, reality wouldn’t live up to the hype. Delays, miscommunication, completely different services and standards in each channel - these are still everyday experiences for customers of financial services brands.
Omnichannel can be an intimidating prospect
Do you want to become the John Lewis of your sector?
You’ll need to revisit every aspect of your customer's experience. Invest in research to understand the problems and opportunities. Embrace digital technology, and integrate it with legacy systems that were never designed to join up.
You’ll need to break down silos. You might have to turn your organisation upside down in the process. And keep on serving your customers while you do all this.
Deciding to take this road is a big decision. It's not surprising, is it, that many businesses stall at the planning stage?
You don't have to change everything at once
I've worked with many clients to plan this kind of business transformation. And typical programmes include three levels of change activity:
I don’t want to suggest that these changes are easy. Adopting complex technology and adapting your organisation to get the best out of it is as hard as it ever was. Even changes that seem simple at first can be difficult to deliver when many stakeholders need to agree to them.
But when you're contemplating a significant transformation, it's easy to forget that you don't have to do it all at once. In fact, you probably couldn't do it all at once, even if you had unlimited resources. Very often, your smaller projects are necessary precursors to more substantial changes.
These quick wins create momentum and buy-in for the more significant changes to follow. And they deliver immediate improvements to customer experience and operational efficiency. These will benefit your business even if you don’t press on with a full-blown digital transformation.
Easy ways to start your omnichannel journey
So while you’re making decisions about the strategic stuff, why not start with some easy wins?
You’ll want to focus on things that are cheap and easy to do. They won't involve significant changes to teams, systems, or processes. Look for items that don't need buy-in from lots of stakeholders. Find changes that only affect one department or simple handoffs between teams.
Here are six things that I see often in omnichannel transformation roadmaps. Which ones could you get started on today, in your business?
1. Stop repeating yourself
Whenever we work with a client on mapping their internal process, there will be a moment where someone goes "Oh but we do that too!". For instance: getting data from customers. Don't we all hate having to repeat ourselves whenever we visit the website, the branch, the contact centre?
It's not only about efficiency: duplication will hamper your move to omnichannel. Because if you do it twice, you probably do it two ways. Three times? Three ways. Making it impossible to offer the same experience across all channels.
Drill down into the root cause – duplication, waste, too much wait time. Work out the right way to do that task, and the right team to be doing it. Everyone else gets a bit more time to do useful things, and the customer only has to fill out a form once. Instant improvement!
2. Start sharing data
Here’s a common reason for duplication: data captured by a team stays with that team. If other teams need the same data, they have to ask for it on their own behalf.
These data silos can be caused or reinforced by technology silos. But not every technical fix has to be complicated or expensive. Can you share reports across teams? Export data to Excel and upload it to other databases? Give other users access to your system so they can look it up for themselves?
Get your technical and process people in the same room and set them brainstorming. You may be surprised at what they think of.
3. Use what you have
When we run problem-solving workshops with clients, we often uncover hidden features. Bits of software that aren't used. Settings that no one knew about. Often because everyone was too busy doing stuff to stop and do some training.
Maybe there's a pre-made integration between your help desk software and your CRM system. Maybe you could embed help desk forms on your website to offer an alternative channel for customer support.
Before you go rushing to buy or build new things, make sure you don't already own something that does the job. And how might you better equip your people to use it?
4. Go for 'right first time.'
Trust - or lack of it - is another common reason for duplicate processing. If a team doesn't trust the data they are getting from another source, they will spend time checking it. They may even feel the need to recreate it.
To tackle this, I suggest you start with a data audit. Find out if the team are right to be cautious. If the data is shown to be good, the team will feel able to let go of the checking. If you discover it isn't, you can take steps to improve quality at source.
5. Fix your forms
Where you find poor quality data, have a look at the tools you're using to capture it. Small tweaks to form design can offer big improvements at low cost.
If people are making repeated mistakes with a field, can you add better instructions? Can you add checks to the form so that they can't get it wrong? Look at internal forms as well as customer facing ones - wherever the data is being entered.
6. Fix what you know is broken
If you want to know what customers find difficult - like forms that are hard to complete - look at your call logs. If people struggle with a task, they will tell you.
Categorise and group your calls to find the issues that are affecting lots of people. Work through this list to find the ones you can tackle easily. A tweak to a form, a change to a leaflet or an update to your support pages can make a big difference.
None of these things needs a lot of planning and investment. Each of them might only deliver a small benefit. But they all represent small steps to improvement for your customer and your business, that you can take today.
If you'd like help to get started with omnichannel, get in touch.