What do you need to know to use omnichannel communications?

    2017 promises to be a breakthrough year for omnichannel communications. In many areas, for example, in retail, this concept has been familiar for a long time. Other industries started talking seriously about omnichannel only last year.

    The problem is that few of the leaders or top managers, even realizing that their company needs omnichannel, know which way to approach the task. Often, attempts to introduce omnichannel in communications look very awkward. I recall the stories of a decade ago, when the marketing departments already knew that the brand needed to be promoted on social networks, but had no idea how to do it. So today and with omnichannel. Many understand that it is needed, but do not know how and where to start.

    Therefore, we have prepared a short guide on what omnichannel communications are, and how to properly implement them in your business. After studying the basic information, you can correctly assess what innovations your company needs.

    But first, let's deal with terminology.

    This is a definition from Wikipedia. And the best thing about the novelty of the term in our realities is the discussion of this article and its status - “proposed for removal”. On the discussion page, it can be seen that according to some participants, evidence is needed "that the topic of the article is worthy of a place on Wikipedia." But there is also a “multi-channel”!

    Omnichannel and multichannel

    At first glance, omnichannel is no different from multichannel, as it also implies the use of more than one tool to communicate with customers. However, there is a significant difference - in multichannel communications, channels exist independently of each other and often are not connected at all. One department of the company may call the customer, not knowing that he has already written a letter to another department. Moreover, it happens that the employees of one department have no idea what the result of the client’s communication with the other department was.

    In the case of omnichannel, many channels are used to communicate with customers at once, however, thanks to the use of a single system, the impression is a continuous communication session, and customers immediately see this and, importantly, appreciate it.

    The most important element of omnichannelism is a single matrix, outside of which communications should not be. It’s important to remember that the client doesn’t care how he contacts your company or who he is talking to. For him, this is all the stages of communication with the brand as a whole.

    Business Process Optimization

    In many companies, different departments use their own channels to communicate with customers and ignore others. So, marketing can do newsletters, and support services answer phone calls, but if you contact them on a matter outside their competence, you will be asked to use a different communication channel. “Contact the customer support by phone”, “Contact your manager”, “Leave a request through the form on the site" ... customers receive such notifications regularly. Why should the client himself think about which side to approach the brand? Why can't a company unravel its inner tangle of communications?

    Most often, the answer is: “We are so used to it, it’s more convenient for us.” In fact, today there are systems that can independently distribute incoming communications, regardless of which channel the client used. For example, if the letter contains the word "Problem", then most likely the customer needs a support service, which means that he needs to be redirected there. It is not as difficult as it seems. Omni-channelism is the ability to understand what the client expects and to do what he expects.

    In order to understand how important it is to prevent the wishes of the client, you need to realize that the prosperity of the company depends on this. If each employee understands that each lost customer (or potential missed one) is his responsibility, omnichannel will become an obvious solution.

    Omni-channelism is not “all at once”

    Getting started with omnichannel communications does not mean that you have to use all available channels at once. It will be enough to start with those that you already use, integrating them into a single system. If you use only voice and email, combine them first, and then think about adding SMS and push notifications.

    It is always better to start gradually and with what you know, only then step by step expanding the functionality.

    It's time to make a plan

    We pass to the most important stage - drawing up a plan for the implementation of omnichannel communications. To help you with this, we have created an omnichannel implementation strategy template that you can fill out yourself.

    Download the template and create a communication plan. The

    strategy consists of the following parts:

    Inventory. Here, list all the communication tools you are currently using. If the tool is used by different groups of employees, enter this tool in the table for each of them. In our example, marketing, customer support and sales departments use e-mail, and they all have different tasks. Such a detailed description is necessary if you want to get a complete picture of what kind of communications your business needs.

    Parties concerned. Who should be involved in the process? The previous table showed which departments communicate with customers. Now we need to highlight the responsible. Bring here not only employees who are directly involved in communications, but also everyone who is involved in creating the content.

    Integration. How will your systems exchange information with a single center and with each other? It can be either very easy to organize, or quite complicated. It is also important to consider the potential for future development. And it is here that a significant part of your budget can be spent, but without integration there will be no omnichannel.

    Other tools.Is something left out? How do social media participate in the communication process? Maybe you have other tools for communicating with customers that contain valuable information?

    Stages Here it is necessary to describe the implementation process in phases. And here, it’s also important to calculate everything in advance so that there is no surprise, since the introduction of each new functionality that you did not have before may require both financial resources and time.

    Messages Now study all the types of messages that you plan to send, and decide who and in what situations they should be sent. This planning stage can also be used in the future for planning communication campaigns.

    And about technology

    Did you notice that we hardly talked about what technologies you will need to implement omnichannel? In fact, technology is not the hardest part of the task. Advanced solutions already exist for most needs. But before you start using them, you must accept the fact that all customers - existing and potential - are the responsibility of each employee of the company, and they must communicate with a single brand, and not isolated departments.

    Time to start?

    At the end of February, Infobip launched the OMNI solution , which will make it easy to combine all the channels of communication with the client so that his experience of working with you is smooth and trouble-free. All functions are presented in one intuitive web interface. If you decide to introduce technology for omnichannel communications in your business, contact us and we will help assess your needs, build a strategy and prepare a work plan. And if in doubt, tell me if your business needs it at this stage.

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