Wow Your Customers With an Omnichannel Digital Experience
It’s easy to believe that manufacturers and distributors really need to focus on utilizing desktop channels — perhaps web and email — to communicate with each other and their customers. However, if you begin to think about how you work, you’ll realize all the ways you research information on the go, and that you need access to information in the field. The ability to give your customers the same digital experience — no matter where they are — is the benefit of an omnichannel strategy.
An omnichannel strategy is about creating a mutually rewarding, connected experience across online and offline channels, rather than focusing on audiences, content, and messaging for each individual channel. For many manufactures, this means a complete digital overhaul, which can leave many feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. However, a seamless transition is possible with the right technology and guidance from industry experts.
Manufacturers committed to building an omnichannel B2B experience will be able to treat their customers to an integrated, fluid, and engaging experience across all channels and at multiple touchpoints throughout the relationship.
B2B customers expect B2C service.
An omnichannel experience is important because everything in business — including communications, buying, selling, and operations — is going digital. B2B customers, distributors, and partners are the same people who shop for groceries online, and use one-click purchasing on Amazon. They are also consumers, and expect the same seamless and personalized experience, no matter the task. They want to interact with companies at their convenience through computers, phones, and mobile devices. If you fail to provide connected services at the speed they expect, you run the risk of losing business to competitors that can offer a cohesive customer experience.
Manufacturers talk about Industry 4.0 — the digital transformation of the factory of the future. But customers don’t care how efficient, clever, and slick you are within your walls unless they see the benefit in their own experience. Customers and distributors are savvy enough to know that with the right tools and services they can save time and trouble at every step in the journey — including purchasing, support, maintenance, service, and upgrades.
The power of an omnichannel experience.
In manufacturing, the terms omnichannel and multi-channel — the use of multiple distribution and sales channels — are often confused. However, it’s important to note the difference, as omnichannel moves beyond distribution. A well-executed omnichannel strategy will integrate and adapt fully with the customer throughout their journey. It’s a holistic approach, and refers to all methods customers use to do business with you — including direct contact, distributors and wholesalers, direct response media, and resellers.
In fact, an omnichannel experience can begin before the customer ever makes contact. Potential customers look for information from many sources. On average, customers are usually 57 percent finished with their decision-making process before they come in direct contact with a company for the first time. For manufacturers trying to capture the attention of prospects, an omnichannel strategy can be designed to automate targeted content delivery. From there, omnichannel experiences can capture and streamline the customer’s every interaction.
Of course, the foundation and power of the omnichannel experience is its power to bridge the gap between offline and online worlds. In the online sector, customer interactions occur on a myriad of digital devices. Therefore, content, processes, and digital assets need to work on any device the customer is using. An omnichannel experience can make transitions from device to device seamless — all while providing a sales or customer service rep with data needed to ensure a complete customer experience.
Great digital experiences drive manufacturing success.
Customers and distributors all want omnichannel experiences that help them work more efficiently and effectively, and a strong strategy will pay dividends for manufacturers too. Given how late in the sales process prospects will typically contact you, an omnichannel strategy can provide a strong ROI — but there’s also additional pay-off.
An omnichannel approach provides customers with the resources they need, and you have the potential to use data and analytics to identify a person and track their actions and expressed interests — giving you more context for better customer conversations.
For example, Tennant, a manufacturer of cleaning products and solutions, implemented a customized digital experience based on analytics that moves each customer through the sales and post-sales cycle using a guided approach. Beginning with the preliminary product researcher, Tennant combines access to targeted content with strategically placed calls to action that encourage the customer to request a demo and further engage in the sales process. At that point, more of the prospect’s data is available to Tennant, allowing their sales rep to offer more personalization at each step. Once the sale is complete, Tennant continues to offer one-on-one cross-channel experiences that blend offline and online support by providing access to the technical information a customer will need for their specific products. Customers can download contracts, set appointments for routine maintenance, check prices for after-market products, and conduct other business in similarly efficient ways.
Manufacturers who invest in an omnichannel strategy benefit from happier customers who are more likely to continue doing business with them, and to refer others. Additionally, customers can and will use self-service, so they require less employee interaction, which can improve profitability and increase operational efficiency.
Creating a foundation for an omnichannel strategy.
Strategies vary from one manufacturer to another, depending on several factors, which include the types of goods and services offered, types of data and interactions customers and partners need, the state of the manufacturer’s data, and where the largest ROI exists. Regardless, all manufacturers will need a digital platform to build an omnichannel strategy.
The most basic software support needed is a DAM platform, which acts as a repository for content. By implementing this technology, you gain a single point of control, and can manage multiple versions of any material, whether that means different language translations, support for varying legal and compliance requirements, pricing by geographic region, or different formats for specific devices.
A data management platform will help you build unique audience profiles so you can identify your most valuable segments and use them across any digital channel. You’ll be able to direct your CMS to target the audience segments with personalized content that will resonate with customers and potential customers.
Analytics are also vital, so that you can understand what actions customers and partners take and which content they gravitate toward. The more you know, the better you can design services and materials to reach the most people efficiently and to their satisfaction. The insight you gain will also help identify where customers are in the process of a purchase or post-transaction decision.
These elements will allow you to deliver the personalization that consumers crave. Customers meet you at all hours, in all places, across multiple channels, and with all their unique dimensions and traits. Using a single, integrated customer profile, you can better manage the touchpoints that make up the customer journey, and ensure that each individual feels valued. Clients are more likely to invest in your company during the purchase cycle and beyond if they feel like you’ve invested in them too. This kind of interaction leads to a long-term, mutually satisfying relationship.
Finally, integration with enterprise back-end and customer-facing systems is important. With such capabilities, the digital platform can extend its reach. Content from other operational silos can, consequently, be available, which enables the creation of true omnichannel experiences that address virtually every type of interaction.
The list may sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Start with a DAM and a CMS and you can begin to bring vast quantities of digital assets under control, and prioritize them by determining which materials support services that offer the most significant ROI.
Having the right tools is only one aspect of supporting an omnichannel strategy. You’ll also need expert help from those who have already successfully navigated such transformations, and who can address technical, strategy, and change management questions.
Part of smart change management will include ensuring strong support from management, and a phased roll-out plan that focuses on the most easily proved successes.