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Digital Transformation Gone Wrong: What Happened to Omnichannel Experience?

omnichannel experience

I’ve long followed an influencer in the Customer Experience (CX) space named Bruce Temkin. Bruce was a former VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester and currently serves in two roles: Co-Founder & Chairman Emeritus of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. He has covered CX deeply and has consistently captured and help set the standards in terms of industry-wide embraced approaches of best-in-class organizations. His current organization (Qualtrics – a leading provider of solutions to capture and act on customer, product, brand & employee experience insights) defines omnichannel experience as:

“Omnichannel experience design is an approach to user experience that focuses on the overall quality of interaction between customer and brand, not just a specific kind of exchange on a single channel.”

The past 18 months, service and customer support delivery has witnessed an evolution of channel preference amongst customers. Customers are seeking a digital-first approach to support; including remote support/assistance/resolution, self-service, knowledge portals and other channels which are beginning to become primary to a dispatch-centric approach. Therefore, we’ve seen a growth in terms of technology adoption across sectors such Augmented/Virtual/Merged-Mixed/Extended Reality (AR/VR/MR/XR), Internet of Things (IoT) and more. Seventy-five percent (75%) of respondents to a recent survey conducted by the Service Council indicated a new or expended investment in remote support technologies.

Field Service Customers are Applying More Pressure for Remote Support

Customers are flocking to channels that aim to create a “see what I see” approach – to aide in solving the issue remotely rather than waiting for a service delivery window and coordinating an in-person dispatch-. This trend isn’t just COVID-19/pandemic infused either, although it certainly accelerated this phenomenon. Customers continue to apply pressure for quicker, proactive support and this was already well in motion prior to. According to the 2022 Service Leader’s Agenda survey, executives cite “increasing customer pressures for service delivery” as the #3 challenge (#1: supply chain, #2: workforce talent and shortage).

There are many reasons why this emerging approach is beneficial to both the provider and the customer, including:

Omnichannel Experience

Can Digital Channels Negatively Impact Customer Experience?

Beyond the above, there is a positive impact to sustainability efforts, as carbon emissions decreases when dispatch is avoided – a net-positive for everyone involved. But are we forgetting about the quality of experience on other more traditional channels?

I’m a Boston guy and a Dunkin’ loyalist. This morning, I forgot to submit my order via their mobile-to-go customer app and my phone was in my car as I ran in quickly to get a single, black hot coffee. I waited in line for 30-minutes as I witnessed the cashier get increasingly annoyed by mobile orders that were coming in via digital channels. Meanwhile, a line of other traditional customers waited in line.

Everybody deserves grace and patience in today’s world. After all, we are all doing our very best and workers in the food service space are overworked and often under paid. However, this is not an isolated incident where mobile-to-go customers are being prioritized over the walk-in traditionalists. Retailers have spoken: they don’t want to engage with you in person and spontaneously – we have become a nuisance. Please help yourself via mobile and online orders.

I blog this not as some therapeutic session (although it has been helpful to get it out as I still don’t have my coffee) but rather as a cautionary tale. Consumerization typically trickles into the business setting. And there is something to be said about training the customer to seek and engage on channels which are optimal for them, as well as you.

With rising fuel costs and an increasing responsibility to be eco-friendly, digital first approaches are a very positive way to support customers. However, are you considering a quality experience across all channels and not forgetting about customers who prefer channels that are not optimized for your profit and operating costs?

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