How to Improve the Omnichannel Customer Experience

Two friends out shopping in the city look at their phones to do some research before entering the next store

Omnichannel customer experience is critical — here’s how to improve CX across both physical and digital touchpoints.

For most of us, today’s customer experience is an omnichannel customer experience. According to McKinsey, more than 50% of consumers use a combination of three to five different channels before completing a purchase.

Likely, you do the same yourself — you browse a brand’s website or app before heading to the store for curbside pickup or to complete the transaction inside. Maybe later, an issue comes up, and you contact customer service via live chat for assistance. While this is a simple example of how customer journeys can play out across different channels, oftentimes omnichannel customer experiences can get much more complicated as they play out in real life.

Similar patterns are at play within the B2B space as well, and the number of channels that B2B buyers use throughout the customer journey has doubled from 5 in 2016 to 10 in 2021.

That’s why figuring out how to improve the omnichannel customer experience is a competitive advantage across industries — one that sets apart leading organizations from the rest.

Here, we’ll share three effective strategies you can use to elevate your customer experience for omnichannel consumers interacting with your brand via online and offline channels — these tactics are based on key research and insights from the Medallia Institute, McKinsey, Gartner, and more and include real-world best practices from leading brands Rent-A-Center, Yext, and Dick’s Sporting Goods

3 Ways to Improve the Omnichannel Customer Experience

#1. Collect and analyze customer feedback across online and offline channels to ensure frictionless customer journeys

Consumers were engaging in hybrid shopping behaviors — interacting with both digital and physical touchpoints with companies along their buying journeys — prior to the pandemic. That said, the consumer behavior trend has only increased in frequency and complexity since then, and the trend appears to be here to stay.

Customer experience leaders are 2.5 times more likely to prioritize improving frictionless cross-channel experiences and orchestration of digital and human interactions than their competitors with lagging programs, according to a report from Medallia Institute.

Even within the B2B space, buying behavior has become more complicated. Customers are no longer relying on offline channels as much and are leaning into digital resources, such as business websites, during the consideration and education phases of their journey. Research from Gartner estimates that by 2023, brand websites will overtake salespeople as the No. 1 channel for B2B buyers, with online channels accounting for 59% of B2B procurement and offline channels accounting for the remainder.

Managing this new reality of the omnichannel customer experience requires the right infrastructure. After all, consumers expect to be able to move from one channel to another without much hassle and without any change in their experience. 

To enable frictionless customer journeys, companies must capture feedback across all of their channels. From there, they must connect that data to get an accurate picture of their overall customer experience.

This is a difficult task that requires synchronizing data across internal systems. It’s a practice that 40% of customer experience leaders undertake, compared with just 20% of laggards, according to recent research from the Medallia Institute based on a study of more than 580 customer experience programs.

Spotlight: Rent-A-Center

Capturing omnichannel customer experience feedback and insights along the customer journey across in-store, online, mobile, and customer support channels is a strategy Rent-A-Center, a leader in the United States rent-to-own industry, has put into practice. And it’s paying off, too. Since implementing this approach, the company has seen NPS® increase by 54% and customer growth jump by 19%.

#2. Increase the quality and consistency of your organization’s customer support experiences across channels

Support is crucial to brands’ long-term success, with nearly all consumers (95% across the U.S. and the U.K.) citing customer service as “somewhat of a factor” or a “major factor” when making a purchase from a brand, according to Customer Service Trends for 2022: Preparing for the Future of Customer Service, based on a survey of 2,100 consumers in the U.S. and the U.K.

Given customer support’s role in shaping and enhancing the omnichannel customer experience, it’s no surprise that over 65% of leading CX organizations say that ensuring both the consistency and the quality of support are top priorities, whereas only a third of customer experience laggards say the same.

The challenge is, contact centers managing customer support inquiries are currently facing a trifecta of challenges — hiring difficulties, rising agent attrition rates, and agent workload issues

As a result, it’s becoming increasingly harder for contact centers to ensure high-quality standards in the service they provide. 

This is reflected in new research from the 2022 Contact Center Satisfaction Index (CCSI) that finds:

  • First-agent resolution has fallen from 63% to 55% in 2022
  • First-call resolution has fallen from 60% to 47% in 2022
  • The overall contact center satisfaction index has fallen by from 74% to 69% in 2022

So what can contact center managers do to ensure customer service experience quality and consistency and help improve the omnichannel customer experience? Here are three steps they can take:

1. Upskill contact center agents and make sure they have the technical skills and knowledge to address complex customer inquiries.

2. Make sure that customers are using the right channels to address their support needs in a process called “right channeling.” While this approach leverages the omnichannel presence of the brand, it also ensures support experience quality by routing customers to the channel that is best suited to address their support needs.

3. Ensure omnichannel support channels are fully integrated. Consumers use a mix of support channels — self-service as well as digital and physical channels — and expect a connected experience. Businesses that don’t deliver this lose out: consumers find it frustrating to repeat themselves in multiple channels, and are likely to take their business elsewhere as a result.

Spotlight: Yext

The B2B brand management platform Yext’s team of 80 agents manage omnichannel customer support experiences across email, phone, and live chat, and the organization captures customer experience feedback about these interactions to train their agents in the moment to ensure consistent, high-quality experiences for customers.

Since upleveling their agent training program, Yext has seen an 8-point improvement in customer satisfaction, with average scores above 90%.

#3. Personalize the omnichannel customer experience

Customers want businesses to know who they are and what their experiences with the brand have been like across channels. McKinsey has found that 71% of consumers expect personalization from companies — and 76% become frustrated when they receive irrelevant recommendations.

Companies benefit when they are able to collect key customer data and apply these insights to personalize omnichannel experiences. Internal Medallia research has found that organizations that offer this are able to improve their customer experience scores by up to 150%. Not only that, but customers are more likely to purchase, repurchase, and recommend brands that offer personalized communications and products or services, per McKinsey.

Companies that use customer feedback to personalize omnichannel customer experiences are able to:

  • Take targeted action relevant to specific customers and touchpoints along the customer journey.
  • Drive a culture of testing and innovation by listening to and acting upon customer feedback in real time.
  • Uncover key consumer insights and use these to foster meaningful connections that drive customer decision making and loyalty.

Investing in technologies that support personalized customer journeys is crucial. However, the majority of organizations lack the tools needed to create the kinds of personalized experiences customers expect.

Spotlight: Dick’s Sporting Goods

As part of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ expansion into ecommerce, the company is continuously looking for ways to better understand their digital customer experience. To do so, the retailer uses personalized customer feedback surveys that ask consumers specific questions about their recent behavior — whether that’s about a certain webpage the customer has visited or items they have in the cart.

Capturing these insights has allowed the organization to finetune the digital experience at the individual level, from how they promote their website to their product messaging. As a result, bounce rates decreased by 50% and exit rates have dropped by 40%.

Transform into a Leading Brand with the Best Omnichannel Customer Experience

Customers benefit from smoother experiences across online and offline channels, and businesses do, too.

According to the Forrester Consulting Total Economic Impact™ Study commissioned by Medallia, organizations that use Medallia’s customer experience management platform to optimize their omnichannel customer experience can achieve a sizeable $35.6m in value and an ROI of 591% over three years by using the platform’s customer experience insights to break down silos and drive product improvements, customer retention, NPS scores, and contact center efficiencies.

Becoming a leading brand with top-notch experiences across physical and digital touchpoints isn’t easy, but it’s well worth the effort to make the transformation. Customers will embrace the seamless experience provided between channels, connecting them and your brand wherever and whenever they prefer.

Getting started with a CX program? Check out our guide, How to Launch a Customer Experience Program — we’ll walk you through the why, the what, and the how of earning buy-in for launching and optimizing your CX program with examples and insights from real-world experience.