At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a channel-less approach to customer experience was a step back from omnichannel. On closer inspection, you’ll find it’s in fact an evolution in the development of a fluid way of dealing with user queries without being disruptive.
Channel-less vs omnichannel vs multichannel
Multichannel was the first step in creating a joined-up customer experience, allowing users to contact brands in a variety of ways. While this offered options, it often led to frustration, allowing information to fall through the gaps as users swapped from one channel to another.
This pain point was addressed with the introduction of an omnichannel approach in which data was centralized and could be accessed across all mediums. Customers could therefore expect a consistent experience across all touchpoints and interactions with an organization.
While this has been successful to a certain degree, it doesn’t go far enough to offer the seamless switching between channels consumers want. To achieve this, marketers need to embrace a channel-less approach, allowing customers not to think about how they communicate with brands, as it happens so intuitively.
How does going channel-less affect the customer experience?
A channel-less approach focuses on the customer journey, tracking each interaction and making it available for reference further down the funnel. While marketers are still aware of the different channels and how they function, these mediums fade into the background for users who are more focused on the unified experience.
Benefits of a channel-less approach
- Flexibility and responsiveness: Customers achieve the same service across channels, with consistent shopping, payment and delivery options. Any issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently.
- Transparency: Order tracking can be accessed through all touchpoints, along with a complete history of interactions with the brand.
- Personalization: With all data in a centralized location, businesses can provide a truly personalized experience for the customer. Not only does that improve the experience, but it leads to loyalty and potentially more sales.
- Relevancy: Contextualizing a customer and taking their location, language and preferences into consideration promotes understanding and helps to build the relationship between the two parties.
- Accessibility: Being able to contact a brand in the most convenient way at any time breaks down barriers, enabling consumers to use their mobile device, laptop or in-person capacity depending on their current needs.
- Simplicity: Removing complexity allows customers to focus on their end goal as opposed to the details associated with achieving it.
Should you ditch omnichannel?
Multi-channel is no longer enough and omnichannel has become the industry standard, but soon companies not offering a channel-less experience will be left behind. They’ll be seen as not meeting customer expectations, unnecessarily clunky and out of touch with customer needs.
According to Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report, the majority of 18 to 34-year-olds use six or more customer service channels. They’re so used to switching between them that any fragmentation will be amplified in their view of the experience they had with a company.
Customers that are forced to repeat key information to brands across multiple channels get frustrated very quickly. While an omnichannel strategy allows an agent to search for the history of the interactions, it’s not instantaneous.
Channel-less, on the other hand, provides a convenient ongoing stream at any given time, cutting down the need to ask the customer to repeat themselves. This makes it truly customer-centric, with agents given all the tools they need to provide the best possible experience.
While customers will compare their experience with your direct competitors, they’ll also be influenced by the way they’re dealt with in other industries. Those who’ve experienced a channel-less approach will keep this as a benchmark for good service and feel your organization hasn’t met expectations if it doesn’t provide the same level of seamless interaction.
Implementing a channel-less strategy
An organization that’s already built an omnichannel experience will be able to use these foundations to create a channel-less strategy. It’s about continuing to offer consistency across channels, but making it less self-conscious, breaking down silos and allowing the mediums to fade into the background.