Today, digital and physical environments are integrated. Within the travel industry, only an omnichannel customer experience strategy will do.
Our planet has become a desegregated plane, where the barrier between online and offline interactions has dissolved. Mobile devices are ubiquitous in our daily lives. Now anyone can access information at any moment, whether they are at their office, in their homes, or in transit. This new landscape presents both opportunities and challenges for businesses. Travel retailers have had to respond to this changing environment, ensuring that the highest level of customer experience is maintained on every medium.
Defining the omnichannel customer experience
An omnichannel business strategy requires a seamless customer experience across every platform. Whether the customer is interacting with an organization through social media, on their website or in a bricks-and-mortar travel agency, the customer experience must be consistent. Subsequently, an omnichannel customer experience strategy has to extend beyond friendly staff or a slick website. Businesses need to integrate all aspects of the customer journey. Therefore, cross-department communication needs to cohesive. This is where IT plays a crucial role. Below are three strategies IT managers can deploy to regulate a business’s customer experience across channels.
1. Detect siloed data
Before IT managers can integrate all of a business’s operations, they must identify siloes. For instance, a potential customer can discover a company anywhere – via social media, Google, or passing by a store. However, an exceptional customer experience is where the client receives the same quality of service wherever they encounter the organization. Siloed information is what causes customer experience to be inconsistent.
For instance, many companies have a website that requires visitors to log in to an account to recover saved searches or previously selected products. However, when a customer initiates a conversation with a chatbot, the bot demands a username and password. This happens because the two separate applications are not integrated. This causes data to become siloed, which negatively impacts customer experience. Therefore, an audit to identify such gaps is essential.
2. Develop cross-department communication
Technology is central to cross-department communications. Full visibility across departments is a vital stage of identifying siloed information and improving operations. Consequently, it is crucial that IT leaders use technology that streamlines business processes. Furthermore, the technology must also offer insights and analytics that quantify and enhance the results.
Given the resources available specifically designed to improve communication, cross-department collaboration is easier than ever. With applications like Slack, Google Drive, and Asana, project management and information sharing is simple to streamline. However, often, new software is not a holistic solution; management need to facilitate teamwork and positive relationships between coworkers.
For instance, a commonplace issue in some organizations is the “silo mentality”. This is the attitude that separate departments do not need to share information. This mentality leads to a lack of alignment, the frustration of processes, duplicated tasks, and poor customer experiences, to name only a few of the consequences. Best practice for enhanced team collaboration include:
- Full management buy-in
Clarity begins at the top. As such, full executive buy-in is essential to facilitating better cross-departmental collaboration. Therefore, they should meet regularly about strategic goals and communicate these clearly through the company hierarchy.
- Nurture a shared purpose
Defining and strengthening company values are essential to nurturing a shared vision. This creates a trusting, supportive environment that encourages knowledge sharing.
- Measure what matters
When trying to enhance staff productivity, leave gimmicks at the door. Productive employees are more satisfied, not the other way round. However, productivity should never be conflated with stress. Employees are more fulfilled when goals and KPIs are transparent.
3. Continually develop and improve
Once IT managers improve the business’s existing operations, they must continually improve on their successes. After all, creating an omnichannel customer experience is a continually evolving concept. As brands compete, a consistent customer experience is what sets one business apart from another. As a consequence, businesses need to be constantly alert and adapting. After all, customer experience is key to new customer acquisition and brand loyalty.
However, delivering outstanding customer experience is not something that companies can measure once and not seek to improve. Customer expectations are constantly rising – and this is why companies need to implement a continuous improvement strategy, no matter the sector. Businesses need to continue to innovate and improve service to remain competitive. However, this does not necessarily require reinventing the wheel; it could be something as simple as updating web copy or updating an FAQ section. All of these corrective actions may seem insignificant on their own, but can make a big difference in the long-term.
Therefore, management need to encourage a culture of constant, logical, and sustainable improvement across departments. This means outlining specific, tangible KPIs. Once these goals are met, employees can assess the situation and seek to improve further. Remember, continuous improvement is not change for the sake of change; it is adding value to the way a company operates.
Big data is essential to implementing a continuous improvement strategy as it offers evidence-based predictions and prescriptions. Once a company has access to relevant and timely customer insights, they will have a clearer understanding of which improvements to prioritize. From here, they can seek to test, measure, and refine their strategy as customer expectations evolve. What works in the present may be irrelevant in the future, so it is essential to constantly analyze and evaluate their continuous improvement strategy.
Communication is key
An integrated approach to customer-facing platforms is crucial to a positive customer experience. The leading role technology plays in creating a consistent omnichannel customer experience is clear. However, cross-department communication and collaboration is the next major step. Customer service and IT need to work closely to exchange feedback and continually improve. All IT innovation must be cross-department, cross-functional and collaborative to create the best customer experience possible.