4 Barriers to Omnichannel Greatness

Effectively delivering good omnichannel customer experiences is hard. It requires a common vision, persistence, coordination and cooperation across lines of business (LOB). In this blog, we’ll cover the most common obstacles to achieving omnichannel greatness.

Borrowing the thinking from Simon Sinek’s book “Infinite Game,” delivering customer experience effectiveness isn’t something you win, or a project with a finite end. It’s an infinite mission that you strive to achieve incrementally. It’s a “just cause” set by leadership that becomes a part of the company culture — and why you get out of bed every morning.

You go up against your competitors on the customer experience they provide and keep eye on what they’re doing. They offer chat, now they have chatbots and so on. While you should be aware of what your competitors are doing, don’t fall into the trap of trying to beat them.

More channels and capabilities don’t necessarily make for a good experience. IT can create an incredible solution and enable the business with amazing capabilities. But if no one adopts it, or if experiences aren’t well-designed, it provides little to no value. A wise colleague once said, “You can’t solve an institutional problem with technology.”

Now let’s take a look at the four barriers to omnichannel success.

  1. Unclear Customer Experience Ownership and Strategy

Everyone in a company plays a role, but it’s not always clear who really owns the customer experience and strategy. Companies that provide world-class customer experience have executive-level ownership of the experiences that cross lines of business. This ensures there’s a clear vision and strategy that aligns with the company’s brand, image and operational goals, but it’s not narrowly focused on departmental objectives.

Customer experience teams are responsible for customer journey design, mapping and customer experience measurement. They also act as a steering committee to ensure the customer’s voice is heard in technology, processes and people decisions that affect customers across all lines of business and communication channels.

From an omnichannel perspective, the customer experience team evaluates when and where new customer interaction channels make sense — and how they fit into the customer journey. Key here also is to define what data will be available to other channels to ensure continuity.

Why you should care: Without a clear, company-wide customer experience vision and ownership team who has a voice in the executive suite, customer experience takes a backseat (priority and budget-wise) within each line of business.

  1. Lack of Customer Experience Management Discipline

Having support from above isn’t enough. Customer experience management is a practice that requires focus and discipline. Companies that make it their mission to provide delightful customer experiences work at it every day in an agile way. In the book “Chief Customer Officer 2.0,” Joanne Bliss notes, “Embed a CX design methodology that’s as rigorous as product development.”

When a dedicated customer experience team with the infinite mindset partners and LOB subject matter experts continue chipping away at providing great experiences for their customers, amazing things happen across the entire company.

The omnichannel challenge occurs when siloed teams add additional channels and point solutions to solve a specific problem in their LOB. But they don’t consider how this will affect the entire customer journey. These systems are rarely integrated into the broader customer engagement system and data to measure their performance – and customer experience impact –  is even more elusive.

Why you should care: You can’t do it all at once. Having a focused team with an iterative mindset aligned to the company vision will continue to stack small wins. And that results in measurable success.

  1. Limited Data Availability and Legacy Systems

Context: the most important word in the omnichannel customer experience vocabulary.

By context we mean:

  • What journey is the customer on now and where are they in that journey?
  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • What or who are they interacting with?
  • What information have they shared already?

Answers to these questions are critical to identifying what the customer is trying to accomplish and determining the next step — whether it’s a human or machine determining that. As Sue Harkreader mentioned in her recent blog, “Cross-channel context is omnichannel’s most powerful feature because it remembers who the customer is and what the customer is doing in order to simplify the steps to resolution.”

The information satisfying all of these needs is never in one place and managed by many teams with many subject matter experts. For omnichannel strategies to be effective, each communication channel needs visibility into each communication channel. Additionally, there needs to be orchestration across all of these channels to ensure a customer isn’t repeating themselves and being sent to several places before accomplishing what they set out to do.

Why you should care: You don’t have to wait for that big enterprise event hub project to make progress on using customer context to improve omnichannel customer experience. A good customer engagement platform can source and use data from native systems without much customization.

  1. Siloed Customer Experience Measurement and Misaligned Incentives

A customer journey often spans multiple channels, departments and days. Customers don’t care how organizations are structured, incented or how many systems hold the record of their experience. This is why customer experience measurement — and how employees are incented — are at odds with the traditional KPIs used to determine “success.”

An SLA is a great example of a KPI that tells us nothing about whether an experience is good or bad. Every company measures it, as they should, but the weight of its importance should be tempered when accepting that human behavior is driven by how one is incented. For example, if a call was answered in less than 30 seconds, but we fail to recognize that the customer already identified themselves in the IVR, gave their intent to a previous agent, and then transfer the call to another department… was the call a success? Your answer likely depends on the KPIs used to determine your bonus. If an average speed of answer (ASA) target drives contact center incentives, then less emphasis is placed on first-contact resolution (FCR) or other customer satisfaction-related KPIs.

NPS and CSAT surveys have been used to measure customer experience for years, but there are many customer experience-related KPIs emerging. Customer effort is a strong omnichannel measure because customers often use multiple channels to complete a journey. Effort increases as the number of channels grows. Forrester shares a great example of non-traditional customer experience KPIs in its report.

Why you should care: Adjusting departmental goals and incentives to better align with the company’s customer experience vision will have a material impact on employee behavior. Customers expect a continuous and consistent experience across channels and departments. If functional teams work toward common goals to deliver that, silos crumble and solutions that deliver delightful customer experience — while increasing revenue and reducing costs — appear.

Striving for omnichannel greatness requires every department to take incremental steps on the infinite path to providing customers with amazing experiences on any engagement channel. Aligning to this broad vision gradually chips away at organizational and data challenges because everyone is working toward the same cause. And that’s a cause that has no end.

Take the next step; use this online tool to build your omnichannel CX blueprint.