5 Strategies Small Businesses Can Adopt to Ride the Omnichannel Wave
A majority of customers and prospects now expect a digital omnichannel experience when they engage with their vendors or prospective vendors. While smartphones most certainly are a critical piece in the omnichannel experience, they are only one cog in the larger ecosystem. It now encompasses everything from the contact center, to the website (including whether it is mobile friendly), to social media channels, to any number of experiences across the Web.
Omnichannel: A Business Requirement
Companies that fail to recognize the importance of offering a seamless omnichannel experience to customers and prospects are at a disadvantage. Small businesses that think omnichannel is only for large businesses are mistaken. Quickly consider a few trends:
- Sixteen percent of all retail sales are now online, and this rate is growing annually at 15 percent (excluding gas, grocery, and car purchases).
- Seventy-five percent of all businesses will be digital by 2020.
- Forty-three percent of smartphone users have made online purchases from their phones in the past 30 days.
- Businesses without an omnichannel strategy will lose 15 to 20 percent of their customers to competitors.
What these trends show is that omnichannel has evolved into something much broader and meaningful than what was coined as BYOD (bring your own device) a few years ago. Part of it is due to demographic shifts. Part of it is as a result of technology disruption—everything from the devices themselves to apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
5 Steps to Ride the Omnichannel Wave
All of this can be quite overwhelming for a small business. It is difficult to ascertain the milestone markers from the omnichannel frenzy that has beset the marketplace. Davinci understands the pressures and constraints of a small business, having our beginnings as an entrepreneurial startup a decade ago. We have also worked with thousands of small businesses to help them shape and execute on their engagement strategies. Based on our experience, there are at least five different areas where small businesses need to get right in order to create the types of omnichannel engagements with customers and prospects that produce tangible business outcomes.
1. Content. In today’s content-centric world, customers and prospects look to engage with companies that provide them with content that is interesting, informative, and engaging. Content is also a foundational lynchpin; omnichannel engagement cannot occur if a company lacks quality content. This can be done in any number of ways.
Prospects typically seek content that helps them to map out their business requirements and aids in the decision-making process. They are still building their business case and are looking for information that helps them do so. And since prospects—B2C and B2B—are more than 70 percent of the way through the decision-making funnel when they engage with vendors, it is critically important that companies deliver content through digital channels—their website, social media, online ads, search, and more—that builds awareness and facilitates engagement.
A content-starting point for a small business is their website. It needs to provide visitors with quality content that positions the company as a subject-matter expert in their space. Company blogs are probably the easiest way businesses can proffer content and engage with website visitors. Making sure the website and blog are optimized for search results is an important checkbox.
Of course, there are numerous other content channels that small businesses can explore—both to build audience and to engage with customers and prospects—such as video, eBooks, podcasts, white papers, infographics, etc. Our recommendation is to start with the website and blog and then, as time and resources permit, build your content strategy from there.
2. Mobile (and soon to be wearables). Mobile disruption is here to stay. Its impact on the personal and professional aspects of peoples’ lives is profound. Smartphones, tablets, and now wearables have changed how people communicate with each other and the companies with which they conduct business. Virtually no company in business today can ignore the mobile element.
Mobile devices are no longer a supplemental option. They are quickly becoming the primary means through which people access digital services. More than two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19 percent rely on their smartphone for accessing online services and information and staying connected to the world around them.
Small businesses seeking to ensure they remain ahead of the mobile disruption wave need to start with some basic blocking and tackling. A website must be optimized—and tested—for mobile devices. For companies that digitally engage with web visitors, this also means those engagement mechanisms (e.g., live web chat, personalized content, etc.) need to be optimized and easy to use on a mobile device.
3. Social. Social media is another technology disruption that small businesses cannot ignore. An astounding 80 percent of consumers expect businesses to be active in social media. Those that do not have social media presence or have lackluster social engagement put themselves at a disadvantage. It is irrefutable: customers want to engage with their vendors through their social channels. Prospects—in the case of a recent study 77 percent—consult their social channels and networks when making a purchase decision (for ratings and reviews).
Businesses that wish to communicate and interact with their customers and prospects must use social media. This is particularly salient considering that 59 percent of consumers interact with businesses on social media alone.
Key to an effective social media strategy is quality content. This creates high levels of engagement, driving traffic to the company website, building audience for the company blog and newsletter, and even generating new sales leads. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are virtual requisites, and others such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest might be depending on the nature of a company’s business and customer base. Managing these different social media channels has been made easy with the availability of different social media tools such as Oktopost, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, GroSocial, and numerous others.
4. Digital engagement (human and technology). Customers and prospects—particularly those who are millennials—prefer to answer their questions with self-service. Indeed, digital self-service is expected to surpass the voice channel this year. But it simply is not an issue of preferring one channel over the other; today’s B2C and B2B customers and prospects want an omnichannel experience that enables them to seamlessly move between each of the different engagement channels.
One aspect is that the human and technological elements of engagement become an integrated whole model. In general, larger companies embed their different engagement channels in different swim lanes (often in different departments, building, and states/countries), making it difficult for customers and prospects to move between each of them and moreover to provide the employees staffing those functions to leverage one data repository. This concurrently diminishes the ability to conduct data analytics and business intelligence and turn it into actionable decisions that span different business departments. This also inhibits proactive engagement based on data insights and digital behavior, something that is becoming increasingly important—and even expected by your social followers and website visitors.
Small businesses are much more agile than larger enterprises, and thus they have the ability to integrate their different engagement channels much more easily. Yet, because time and resources are limited, many small businesses only have rudimentary engagement models. One of the reasons Davinci was founded is the premise that we could provide small businesses with a multi-pronged engagement solution—combining digital and traditional modes such as email and voice.
Davinci Live Receptionists give small businesses the ability to outsource receptionist services to a dedicated Davinci team of professionals who are experts on your business. This virtual team fields incoming calls from prospects and customers, routes them to the appropriate members of your team, provides outbound calling services, and much more.
Davinci Live Web Chat enables small businesses to proactively engage with customers and prospects on your website—or even certain social channels. Our dedicated Web Chat team answers questions, provides support, and even transacts sales.
What is unique about how we have configured our offerings is that we can seamlessly move customers and prospects between the different engagement channels; each of the teams function as an integrated whole and regardless of the engagement channel the data resides in one repository (which also includes website analytics). Because of this integrated omnichannel approach, our small business customers agilely leapfrog their much larger competitors that still operate highly segregated environments.
5. Personalization. Customer and prospect engagement—spanning marketing, sales, and customer service—is rapidly evolving to incorporate digital personalization strategies. These are only possible if an organization has the right mechanisms in place to capture and store the data and moreover the underlying technologies to pinpoint actionable data insights.
The end result is websites and various other digital engagement channels that deliver highly personalized experiences. A small business can offer proactive web chat based on a website visitor’s behavior. Content can also be presented to visitors based on their profile and behavior. The same data that is available digitally can also be employed in traditional voice and email channels. Davinci’s integrated solution enables us to deliver all of these services to our small business customers.
Other areas to consider that employ digital personalization include ad retargeting, account-based marketing, and more.
Facilitating Omnichannel Engagement
It truly is an exciting time to be in business and see small businesses put in a position not only to match but exceed those of much larger counterparts. Solutions such as our Live Receptionist Service and Live Web Chat Service give small businesses the opportunity to create omnichannel engagement experiences they never imagined were possible just a few years ago.
To find out more on how Davinci’s products and services can help you deliver an omnichannel experience for your customers, send us a message, call us at 1.888.863.3423, or chat with us.