• March 1, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Companies Still Not Unifying Customer Engagement Channels

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Despite all the push for companies to unify their customer engagement channels, half will still not have done so by the end of 2022, resulting in disjointed and siloed customer experiences that lack context, according to Gartner.

“Frictionless omnichannel commerce provides consistent, streamlined experiences across channels throughout the customer journey, and this has increased in importance since the outbreak of the pandemic,” says Matt Moorut, principal analyst in Gartner’s marketing practice. “Frictionless omnichannel experiences allow organizations to not only provide customers with more purchase and fulfillment options, but also enable customers to quickly switch engagement methods in case of channel disruption. This enables marketing leaders to better protect business-critical revenue streams.”

The report also concludes that frictionless omnichannel experiences need to go beyond just buying online, in-store pickup, and curbside pickup, saying it must also enable a truly seamless experience for selling, serving, fulfilling, and delivering. To do this, marketing leaders must focus on the following areas when collaborating with other organizational leaders and optimizing their 2021 strategies:

  • Feature fulfillment options: Highlight customers’ fulfillment options clearly within the purchase journey. For example, allow customers to choose between in-store pickup and drive-up curbside pickup, with clear instructions linked from product detail pages.
  • Incentivize omnichannel sales: Test thresholds for incentivizing omnichannel sales, such as offering a gift card to encourage customers to buy online and pick up in stores or curbside.
  • Ensure consistent messaging: Work with customer service leaders to ensure that messaging is consistent for customers across channels, including social networks, chatbots, and contact centers.
  • Integrate digital inventory: Partner with supply chain leaders to push for better integration of inventory across digital touchpoints to show available inventory per store location.
  • Prioritize partnerships: Select partnerships that extend frictionless omnichannel shopping, including online marketplaces, especially where first-party options are limited.

The report also notes that digital commerce—defined as the design and execution of marketing activities that enable and encourage customers and prospects to research, evaluate, and purchase products online—expanded greatly in the past year during COVID-19 lockdowns. Nonetheless, it also notes that the perceived benefit of in-person shopping remains strong. This means organizations that have wide-reaching store footprints are well-positioned to leverage frictionless omnichannel experiences.

Organizations without a brick-and-mortar presence can still tap into the benefits of frictionless omnichannel experiences by partnering with third parties, the report says.

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