What does it take to deliver an exceptional omni-channel customer experience? Gaurav Bhatia, Vice President, Digital Strategy, AARP, discussed the importance of digital in the omni-channel customer experience in his keynote address to Argyle’s E-Commerce membership at the 2016 Leadership in E-Commerce Forum on May 24 in Dallas. In his presentation, “Creating an Omni-Channel Experience: Role of Digital,” Bhatia examined the expectation of the customer from the brand and how today’s organizations need to build a customer-centric experience.
According to Bhatia, how a business connects with its customers is paramount, particularly in today’s highly competitive global marketplace.
However, digital levels the playing field between big and small companies because it empowers organizations to connect with their target audiences from any location, at any time.
Digital also enables organizations to revamp the customer experience — something that remains exceedingly important for companies of all sizes.
“Customer experience wins,” Bhatia said. “We have to do everything for our members. And if the members are not happy, the chances are they are not going to come back to you.”
For AARP, brand is important, and Bhatia pointed out his company tries to do everything it can to connect with consumers 50 years of age and older.
Although many organizations may assume that Baby Boomers ignore digital, recent data indicates that consumers 50 years of age and older are the largest growing consumer segment to leverage digital. Thus, organizations today have a tremendous opportunity to connect with Baby Boomers if they can deliver effective omni-channel customer experiences.
“For [Baby Boomers], technology is really a new, cool thing,” Bhatia noted. “For us, [technology is] a very, very different ballgame.”
“It takes a village to take this kind of experience and get it to market.”
Baby Boomers often remain loyal to brands and will use popular tools like Facebook and Pinterest to learn about an organization. Moreover, they buy the latest mobile devices regularly, which means finding a way to connect with them across multiple channels is key.
“[Baby Boomers] are very active socially, and they do spend a lot of time online,” Bhatia said. “How they consume content is slightly different. … Their patterns are slightly different.”
So how can organizations deliver a consistent customer experience across many channels at the same time?
Bhatia noted there are roughly 60 channels that organizations can use to connect with consumers, including both offline and online options. Organizations, meanwhile, must find a way to leverage these channels to ensure customers are fully supported at all times.
A user-friendly website can make a world of difference for both a company and its customers.
Today’s consumers don’t want to commit significant time and resources to find information about a business online. But if a company provides consumers with an easy-to-navigate website, customers can find the information they need without delay and enjoy a memorable customer experience.
“We really want [members] to have a good experience when they associate with our brand,” Bhatia said. “There’s really no point in spending millions of dollars on digital [only to have] them come to your site … and [they] can’t find what they are looking for.”
AARP represents a member organization, and members who enjoy a great experience are more likely to renew their membership with the organization consistently. This ensures AARP can reduce the time and resources needed to reacquire members, and ultimately, guarantee its members receive consistent support.
“There’s really no point in spending millions of dollars on digital [only to have members] come to your site … and [they] can’t find what they are looking for.”
Bhatia pointed out numerous departments work together within AARP to deliver a consistent omni-channel customer experience. This enables AARP to collect feedback from multiple departments and work toward making ongoing improvements to its customer experience.
“It takes a village to take this kind of experience and get it to market,” Bhatia said.
Also, it is important to note that customer experience consists of multiple levels, including:
- User Experience — How customers interact with a business via both online and offline tools.
- Business Rules — How customers think and feel about a brand.
- Data and Personalization — How organizations strive to use customer data to provide personalized customer experiences.
- Technology and Platforms — How organizations use technology and platforms to build partnerships with customers.
Bhatia offered several recommendations to help organizations better understand the customer experience and develop an effective strategy to deliver a unified customer experience across multiple channels:
- Strive to make it as simple as possible for customers to connect with a company across multiple channels.
- Define pertinent use cases and business rules.
- Provide relevant, personalized customer experiences.
- Monitor customer experience data and continue to explore ways to make ongoing improvements to the customer experience.
How an organization evaluates the customer experience may dictate its long-term success. But with a proactive approach to customer experience, an organization will be better equipped to discover innovative ways to support its customers day after day.
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