In an increasingly digital world, it is the omni channel journey that any single customer will use to reflect on their experience with a company.
Being online has become as much a part of life as our shoes, cars, and televisions. As people have migrated from PCs to laptops, then to smartphones and tablets, many companies have raced ahead to meet them, creating mobile applications, mobile-friendly websites, and support centers that allowed for customers to communicate with instant messaging, voice calls, emails, or online forms. Forward-looking companies made sure each channel was integrated with every other channel, giving birth to the Omni channel experience.
In a nutshell, the Omni channel is like having a personal shopper at your beck and call. Whether you wish to email, call, text message, stop by a kiosk, visit a store or outlet, or go online, every interaction is informed by every other interaction in real time. Moreover, analytics means service-oriented firms can anticipate behaviour, making offers to customers sometimes before customers even know for themselves that they need something.
Customers of the retail bank Garanti have experienced this. The Turkish bank has embraced the Omni channel as a key differentiator, using it to deliver integrated customer journeys across multiple channels. It saw that people were moving online, especially young people, and raced ahead to meet them, dubbing customers the connected generation (“Generation C”). It then constructed services around digital channels. A single IT system coordinates activity from kiosks, websites, mobile apps, and offices 24/7 in real time. Garanti offers contextual banking, whereby predictive analytics helps steer customers towards useful products at the right time, such as low-interest loans, overdrafts, savings options, and stock selection. With 80% of basic transactions done online, staff have been retrained to focus on advice and financial consulting.
The effort has paid off. Now one of the world’s most advanced banks, Garanti is Turkey’s second largest and claims nearly half of the Turkish mobile banking market.
Retail is another arena in which the Omni channel has taken firm root. One of the UK’s most customer-friendly chains, the department store John Lewis has fully integrated web-based, mobile-app based, and brick-and-mortar based shopping. Customers can buy things online then collect them or have them delivered. They can return items to any store they like. They can also use their phones to scan barcodes, get automated recommendations, and reserve items at other stores.
As with Garanti, the strategy has paid off, with holiday spending at John Lewis stores rising nearly 6% in 2014 despite the fiercely competitive nature of the market.
Although they are in very different industries, both Garanti and John Lewis recognize the importance of reaching out to customers where and when their customers expect it. Hence the two companies have essentially turned customer interactions in physical and digital channels into Omni channel journeys. And both have done an exceptional job.
In an increasingly digital world, it is the Omni channel journey that any single customer will use to reflect on their experience with a company. As this too becomes standard, branded experiences will increasingly become key differentiators. Firms that take action know will have huge advantage later.
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