How was it again with the customer is king? Many companies firmly believe that their business is customer centric. But is it true? Who is really interested in the exact customer journey and the real interests of their target groups? However, if you want to positively surprise your customers and retain their loyalty in the long term, you have to know exactly what their wishes and needs are. It must provide them with a positive customer experience. Successful players therefore rely on the omnichannel approach. This is based on a clearly customer-oriented view and is a future model that pays off.
Only slowly is the economy struggling back to normal after the third Corona wave. Months of store closures, social distancing and changing consumer behavior during the lockdowns forced retailers and producers alike to adopt new approaches. Seemingly secure sales channels via shopping centers, stores in pedestrian zones or DIY stores fell away overnight. Branded companies were suddenly forced to act with their own online offers (direct-to-consumer). It is true that the Corona crisis gave online retail a powerful boost: Sales of goods in e-commerce rose to a total of 83.3 billion euros, up 14.6 percent year-on-year. The German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association e.V. (bevh) expects e-commerce with goods and services to even exceed the 100 billion euro mark in 2021.
Developments in e-commerce
83.3 billion. € sales of goods in e-commerce
14,6% more turnover in the yearly comparison
100 billion € mark could be exceeded in 2021
But brick-and-mortar retailers, like manufacturers of consumer goods sold in home improvement stores, for example, are facing dramatic declines in sales and profits. "Even if the situation is gradually improving, companies should not give in to the deceptive hope that everything will go back to the way it used to be," warns Berit Eigl, Director Customer Management DEFACTO GmbH, expert in customer experience management. The customer journey and the touchpoints at which brands come into contact with their customers have shifted.
"In order to improve the financial situation now, even in the short term, with quick wins, new, direct access to the customer is needed," says Eigl. According to their practical experience, those who efficiently combine marketing and sales in the omnichannel will come out of the crisis successfully. "CX analytics can be used to identify what customers want and sustainably improve the customer journey. Those who proactively seek contact with customers on all channels and eliminate obstacles to purchasing, such as poor websites or inappropriate targeting, will get back on the road to success more quickly."
Everyone knows his simple idea today: Shop on the Internet at any time and from any place, and the goods will be delivered promptly and reliably to your home. The show does not like? No problem: free returns are a given and an essential part of the positive customer experience. What was really "exciting" on the American market around the turn of the millennium and unthinkable in Germany, is now standard worldwide.
Even for the paid Amazon Prime membership opted for about 147 million Americans by 2021, according to estimates by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. By comparison- only 20 percent, or around 66 million U.S. citizens, have a valid passport. Bezos makes the step to invest 99 US dollars per year in the Prime membership very easy for the customers. Because the consistent consideration of customer needs at all touchpoints of the customer journey, the tangible benefits for customers as well as the positive customer experience make paying "members" feel like "winners" in their self-perception.
Omnichannel – full concentration on the customer
Whether offline media such as brochures, advertising letters, print ads, press relations or online ads, email marketing, websites, social media to trade fairs and video messages – the possibilities to get in touch with prospects and customers on their customer journey are almost unlimited. Customers exchange ideas about brands, products, benefits and services in their communities, influencers have a lasting influence on entire target groups, and people articulate their wishes and needs. As the current "Pinky Gloves" affair shows, poor communication coupled with little sensitivity to the target audience can be the quick end of an entire business idea.
If communication and sales take place via several channels that are not linked to each other, a company is acting with a multichannel approach. With clearly separated channels, the customer cannot act across channels and must, for example, register again and again. "On the customer journey and for a positive customer experience, a classic obstacle," knows Berit Eigl.
The omnichannel strategy is a further development of the cross-channel approach: It clearly focuses on the customer. The decisive factor is that the brand can be experienced by the customer via all relevant touchpoints with a positive customer experience. The customer can therefore access the company’s entire offering at any time. Regardless of the communication channel.
"Brands today need to develop a real obsession with the needs of their customers and align their marketing with the touchpoints with their target audiences" is the credo of renowned business influencer Anne M. Schuller. It’s a misconception that customers want a positive customer experience – rather, they expect it. Companies that take this to heart and provide their customers with a positive customer experience across the entire customer journey at all touchpoints are more successful than their competitors in the competitive marketplace. Why? "The memory of the perfect trip consists of the memories of the most beautiful events and moments. We see them in our mind’s eye, they accompany us throughout our lives and we like to tell stories about them. The same applies to the customer journey, which ultimately leads to the purchase decision", says sales expert Marco Schmah.
Sensitize mindset in management
Customer centricity is a nice buzzword that management likes to use. "Optimizing customer value, then, means optimizing the value of the customer to the company, not optimizing the value to the customer and thereby to the company. That’s a small but significant difference," explains Prof. Dr. Franz-Rudolf Esch, Founder, ESCH, The Brand Consultants. According to Esch, companies need to know exactly what their customers need so that they can design the relevant contact points on the customer journey to meet customer needs in each case. "The customer must experience the brand at every touchpoint," says Esch, according to whose customer experience study, professional customer touchpoint management leads to 22 percent higher sales. Those who provide their customers with optimum support from the first contact at the PoS or on the Web, through the entire purchasing process, to complaints management, have a much better chance of success.
It is not the number of individual channels that is decisive, but the significance of each for the customer
In the connected, customer-centric omnichannel campaign, the customer is the fixed star by which navigation and all actions are aligned. "Each individual communication and sales channel has its specific characteristics and the complexity of the campaign increases with the number of channels used," says Berit Eigl. In her experience, what matters in omnichannel marketing is not the number of channels used, but their importance for the customer. That’s why Eigl and her teams conduct holistic analyses of the customer journey before, during and after the purchase with regard to customer experience, content and barriers. "So our teams are embarking on the customer journey in a very real, hands-on way that our customers offer to potential buyers," Eigl emphasizes. It’s just like real life, he says. "Experienced travelers can immediately tell if the convenience meets expectations and the customer experience is positive."From such a potential analysis, the experts then develop a truly customer-centric omnichannel campaign with appropriate channels and touchpoints. Quick wins can be realized immediately when very obvious obstacles or errors arise in the customer journey. Best example, the customer trusts the manufacturer’s promises and signs up with high expectations.