Fill in the gap and get the journey right

19/09/17

Until recently, omnichannel strategies seemed like a complex and sophisticated concept that would bring a competitive advantage to the more robust businesses. But the market has evolved and 95% of customers expect no less than presence and quality interaction across all channels.

These customers who want to switch between online, mobile and physical store channels without interruption in the experience also offer a lifetime value 30% higher than customers who buy through a single channel. It is unanimity: offering a complete experience from the beginning to the end of the journey is no longer a differential. It has become a matter of survival. In examples from the hospitality and retail industries, we show you how to fill in the gaps to provide a consistent omnichannel experience.

The various points of contact with your customers throughout the interactions make up the buying journey – the path you take to generate and maintain customers, and it is very important to offer a fantastic experience in all interactions. The journey allows you to look at your business and the interactions of your customers in the various points of contact, observing their behavior and their consumption habits.

In an ideal world this journey would be linear, right? It would probably start with research and move smoothly to after-sales, generating a high lifetime value relationship. But in real life consumers take that pass at the physical store, receive newsletters and see ads on Facebook, whether or not they can make a purchase. These multi-channel experiences enable a series of gaps that need to be identified so that there is no break in expectation or interruption in the interaction: purchases are interrupted, ads are viewed on social networks, better values are offered and reservations are canceled. But where are they and how to identify those gaps?

Virtuous Cycle of Hosting

Marcelo has long planned family vacations. After choosing the destination, he bought the most cost-effective tickets and searched on travel blogs and hotel rating websites for the perfect hotel for his needs. The survey yielded a short list with 5 hotels, which compared until deciding which would be the best option, taking into account price, location, structure for leisure and even the view.

After booking a room, Marcelo was surprised with a welcome email with personalized content (best flights, weather, how the transfer works). The experience was incredible: his kids had fun, the amenities were cool, the checkout quick and he was even invited to join the brand’s loyalty club, being able to stay again with a good member discount. At home, Marcelo answered the satisfaction survey email commenting on his experience and recommended the hotel to friends who commented the photos of the trip.

It’s beautiful, is not it? But the journey is not just about these stages and many situations like these could have happened during the process:

// Marcelo could visit the site through an advertisement on Facebook and not find the promised rate.

// Marcelo could have closed the accommodation with an airline partner hotel using points earned if there was an interesting announcement on the checkout page or in the flight confirmation email.

// If Marcelo had been impacted by a better offer directly with the hotel after the purchase, he could take advantage of the rate and cancel with the OTA while there is still no penalty.

// The experiment could have been a total failure if, arriving at the checkout page, the flag of André’s card was not accepted.

// If, upon arriving at the hotel, the receptionist asked him to re-fill information about four people (what he had already done during the reservation) while his children ran through the lobby, Marcelo might have been frustrated and impatient.

Omnichannel retail

Did you realize how complex it is to offer an integrated experience? It is necessary to know very well the processes of each channel and to anticipate all the variables to plan the omnichannel orchestration and not to lose what their efforts conquered in the previous stages.

Gabriela needs to buy a birthday present for her goddaughter. With a hint from the child’s mother, she began to pan e-commerces for a Baby Alive doll. Finding a safe store with attractive value, Gabriela called the nearest store to see if they would have the doll in stock. The positive response led her to visit the physical store during lunch break, but the satisfaction with the experience ends there: when she arrived at the store, no salesman came to her aid and Gabriela had to look for someone to take care of her.

The first vendor sought the product on the computer and said there were three remaining units, going to the stock look up. Twenty minutes later, Gabriela asked another vendor to verify and it was reported that the product was unavailable at the store. Angry and hungry, Gabriela asks to speak with the manager, who informs that there is only one last doll in stock and asks the second seller to go up and look. At this point, Gabriela feels that she has lost her lunch hour for nothing and just wants to leave and give up the purchase, telling all her colleagues about returning to the office.

Now think about how this headache could have been avoided:

// The e-commerce could have invited Gabriela to register her email and receive a notification when the product was available again.

// The brand could have offered the possibility of buying online with withdrawal in the physical store, as does the Bibi, or enable delivery at home.

// The salesperson who answered the call might have already offered the option to buy online, providing her code to encourage the purchase and still be commissioned (attributing the sale to the physical store).

// The frustration could have been avoided if the store had a sales team prepared and with access to the data in real time.

// The store could have an integrated system with other franchises and e-commerce so, if there is no stock in the store visited, it is possible to refer the customer to another store or redistribute the stock while following the flow of products.

// Offer a discount or benefit to fix the situation and identify the failures to prevent recurrence.

All channels must operate simultaneously to deliver a consistent experience that works in every direction, from any starting point to every customer. The absence of this amounts to gaps in experience that generate loss of satisfaction (and revenue) in the client’s journey. And it’s through experience gaps like the ones we’ve seen in the examples that retailers lose sales – and customers. The risk is real, but avoidable, as we could see through some alternatives for each situation presented.

Is that you? Did you see other solutions to the gaps in experience to retain Marcelo and Gabriela? What alternatives meet the needs of your business? The possibilities are many and a micro look may be what was missing in order for your brand to overcome the obstacles between channels to improve relationship and revenue. After all, happy customers make us happy.