How Omni-channel Customer Engagement Drives Real Business Benefits

Ankit Tandon, Chief Operating Officer, OYO Townhouse

Online shopping in India was virtually unheard till just 15 years ago. IRCTC marked the advent of the average Indian consumer’s comfort and confidence in purchasing a relatively low-value train-ticket online. Cut to today – everything from groceries, hotels, electronics and high-end jewellery is bought online. This is of course in addition to the store-front or retail option continuing to be offered in most cases. Multi-platform sales and marketing has also led to a profusion of customer touch-points. Besides personal contact through real-time or telephonic interactions, there are platforms such as social media, e-mails, in-app notification, chat-bots - the list keeps growing as brands and marketers look for new ways to engage with customers.

Thus omni-channel engagement is a necessity in today’s hyper-connected world. The question before CIOs and CMOs is no longer if, but when. Why should businesses focus seriously on delivering an omni-channel customer experience?

(i) Diversity of Customer Base: If your customers represent a wide range of geographies, professions and ages, they will have different habits, quirks and mindsets. You cannot acquire or serve all customers through a single channel. The tech savvy, for instance, would want to use your services via a mobile app, others may find it more comfortable accessing a website via laptop/desktop – some others may still prefer a telephonic conversation to understand every single detail. You need to ensure that you reach out to the entire kaleidoscope of customers and they have a uniform, comfortable experience, irrespective of the channel that they use to interact with your brand.

(ii) Multiple Touch-Points across Pre, During and Post-Sales: Increasing choice has made the customer fickle. Transactions rarely happen in one go. The consumption of your product is a sum of research, discovery, purchase, post-sales service and feedback. Throughout this journey, customers go through different phases and emotions – and they want to reach out to the brand through different channels. Sometimes they need face time, at other instances a non-intrusive conversation is preferred. They may also like to be public about what they feel via social media. As a brand it is important to be ready and responsive – by being available for them through all possible channels that they may choose to utilize.

(iii) Personalization of Experience: Data analytics and technology make it possible to track a customer’s journey with your brand assets on a real-time basis. A robust omni-channel management strategy ensures uniformity across these channels and the most relevant outreach to the customer, at the most relevant time – leading to better conversions and stronger brand preference.

OYO, being the largest branded hotel network in India, is present across 10 different channels that are seamlessly integrated with each other, providing a consistent experience irrespective of the access-point. These channels comprise Mobile App, Web, Mobile Web, E-Mail, Live 24/7 Chat, 24/7 Customer Support Desk, Local Booking Centres, Ground Teams, Online and Offline Travel Agents and Social Media platforms. The obvious challenge is to ensure uniformity of service across all channels and ensure a seamless end-to-end experience. This is achieved by intelligent integration of all of these channels.

The presence of an omni-channel customer experience delivers clear business benefits, such as:

• Higher transactions and conversions, through new customer acquisition across different channels

• Consistency in Guest Satisfaction, through uniform brand experience across all channels

• Increased Customer Repeat, through multi-channel discovery

• Increased Brand Recognition and Adoption, through high aided awareness

Considering these facts, it is imperative that businesses in diverse domains make full use of the Internet as well as omni-channels to drive business expansion, productivity and profitability goals. Or they may risk being left behind in the race for relevance, market leadership and customer loyalty.