home Customer Experience, Digital Customers don’t think in terms of channels: They want seamless journeys

Customers don’t think in terms of channels: They want seamless journeys

For years, omnichannel customer experience (CX) has been the holy grail. But the way customers interact with businesses is changing. They don’t think in terms of channels – website, app, phone call, etc – they simply want a smooth, consistent experience. This shift in customer behaviour is driving a move towards a new approach: channel-less CX.

Nicholas Kontopolous, Vice President of Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan, Twilio, comments, “The conversation around customer experience (CX) has come a long way since the early days of business process outsourcing and basic CRM systems. Back then, CX was all about people, process, and technology. But as technology evolved, the concept of omnichannel emerged”.

Nicholas Kontopolous, Vice President of Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan, Twilio

Omnichannel customer experience (CX) refers to a strategy that provides a consistent and integrated customer experience across all the different channels a business offers. This includes channels like a company website, mobile app, social media platforms, email, phone support, and even physical stores.

“Omnichannel was a significant step forward, offering a more holistic view of the customer by integrating various channels. However, it can still feel disjointed for customers who don’t think in terms of channels – website, app, phone call – but rather a seamless journey”, says Kontopoulos.

Why the move from omnichannel?

Omnichannel, while a step forward, can still feel disjointed. Imagine a customer researching a product online, adding it to their cart on the app, but then needing to call customer service to complete the purchase because of a checkout issue. This is a classic example of an omnichannel experience that lacks fluidity.

Channels are like windows into your brand. A channel-less approach focuses on the customer standing outside, looking in. They shouldn’t be aware of the individual windows (channels) but rather see a cohesive brand experience. Kontopoulos highlights, “Channel-less CX prioritises the customer’s journey over individual channels. It’s about creating a unified experience where the customer feels understood and valued at every touchpoint”.

The channel becomes irrelevant while the experience becomes everything. Rather than devoting resources to designing and delivering the brand experience across multiple channels, you start by focusing on designing the experience and not the platforms on which the experience is delivered. The brand experience is then easily replicated on any channel.

The hallmarks of channel-less CX

Channel-less experiences, according to Kontopolous, prioritise the customer journey over individual channels. Here are the key characteristics:

  • Personalisation: The experience adapts to the customer’s needs and preferences, regardless of the touchpoint.
  • Relevancy: Interactions are timely and provide value at each stage of the customer journey.
  • Transparency: Information is consistent and readily available across all touchpoints.
  • Simplicity: The experience is intuitive and easy to navigate, reducing friction.

Boosting Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

By focusing on the customer’s journey, channel-less CX fosters higher satisfaction and loyalty. Customers feel valued and understood, leading to increased trust and advocacy. Kontopoulos quotes Disney as an example of channel-less CX, he says, “Disney is a master of channel-less CX. Their My Disney Experience app allows guests to plan trips, book reservations, manage tickets, and even interact with wait times – all in one place. The experience is seamless, personalised, and removes the need to switch between channels”.

By focusing on the customer journey, channel-less CX fosters higher satisfaction and loyalty. Here’s why:

  • Increased trust: Customers feel valued and understood, leading to a stronger connection with the brand.
  • Reduced frustration: Frictionless interactions eliminate the hassle of navigating different channels.
  • Greater advocacy: Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your brand to others.

Breaking down silos

A unified customer view is essential for channel-less CX. Kontopoulos comments, “In a siloed environment, departments design customer experiences in isolation. Marketing creates a flashy ad campaign, while sales focuses on closing deals, and product development churns out features. The customer, however, experiences the brand holistically. This disconnect leads to a fragmented experience”.

“Empowering employees to work cross-functionally is key. Imagine a marketing team collaborating with sales and product development to design a seamless buying journey. The marketing campaign highlights a product feature the sales team can leverage, while product development ensures a smooth online purchase process. Here, the customer experiences a unified journey, regardless of the touchpoint”.

Creating a culture that values cross-functional collaboration requires more than just lip service. Here are some steps:

  • Emphasise collaboration in company values and mission.
  • Break down departmental barriers that hinder information sharing.
  • Reward teams for achieving cross-functional goals.
  • Empower employees to make decisions and solve customer issues creatively.

The biggest hurdle to achieving a customer-centric approach lies in our current organisational structure. Data, crucial for understanding customer needs, is often trapped in departmental silos. Marketing, sales, and other departments hold onto their data, hindering the holistic view of the customer journey.

Building a customer-centric culture

“Our current business models”, according to Kontopoulos, “are often built on outdated principles. These principles were designed for a different era, one that didn’t prioritise customer experience or employee experience. To truly thrive in today’s customer-centric world, a cultural shift is essential. This involves more than just saying you value these experiences; it’s about creating an environment that actively fosters them. A key enabler of this is rethinking your operational model”.

To shift your company towards customer-centricity:

  1. Emphasise customer focus in company values and mission.
  2. Break down departmental barriers that hinder collaboration.
  3. Empower employees to solve customer issues creatively.

“When employees feel empowered, they go the extra mile. By empowering employees and fostering collaboration, companies can design and deliver seamless customer experiences that transcend individual channels. This, in turn, leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty”, advises Kontopoulos.

The future of channel-less CX

“As technology evolves, expect even more integration between the physical and digital worlds. Imagine using augmented reality to virtually try on clothes or receive personalized recommendations based on your location. The future of CX is about creating a frictionless, connected journey that anticipates and fulfills customer needs at every touchpoint”, says Kontopoulos.

While omnichannel CX is a step forward from focusing on individual channels, it can still feel disjointed for customers if the experience isn’t seamless enough. This is where the concept of channel-less CX takes things a step further.

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.