Customers are becoming “less loyal” in the traditional sense, so it’s crucial for retailers to provide multiple channels that allow interaction with customer experiences that keep them coming back. This can be an intimidating notion when you’re forming a strategy that involves both a physical and virtual presence. You have to answer questions like:
- What channel do we focus on first?
- How do we roll out the new strategy cost effectively?
- How do we measure its success?
- Where do we begin!?
The combination of customer data and tools that help process that data allow retailers to work with consumers in a shared path-to-purchase experience. By enabling customers to engage with their brand(s) online, either virtually or in physical stores, in the way that works best for them, retailers can build better customer relationships and increase sales. When harmonizing your online and in-store strategies, the analysis of path-to-purchase data is just as critical in your brick-and-mortar location(s) as it is coming from your virtual storefront (don’t forget… offline is still where 90% of sales occur). We call this inter-woven customer experience omni-channel.
Omni-channel is defined as an approach to create a seamless customer experience no matter what channel they choose to interact with (i.e. computers, mobile devices, catalogs, direct mail, television, physical locations, etc…). In other words, it’s a strategy that reflects the choice that consumers have in how they engage with the various channels of your brand.
Recent trends to capture this information are using various technologies, such as sensors that anonymously track and identify shoppers inside stores, to provide data similar to the way pages are tracked online. This data helps retailers better understand their customers’ patterns, leading to improvements in how they assort and design store layouts. It also provides analytics that help retailers find new ways to deliver products faster, such as fulfillment from stores or local delivery services tied into online shopping. These types of data points tie into warehouse logistics that help procurement and fulfillment find cost saving opportunities that were not so transparent before the days of real-time analytics. And we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface with 3D printers! The SMACIT-induced disruption (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud, Internet of Things) is causing leadership to re-assess their business models in order to re-align with the new customer experience strategy.
So where to begin? Start by taking inventory of the channels you support today, and then consider any emerging channels of interaction that need to be addressed. This is a great exercise for understanding what is relevant for your business, as well as identifying existing channels that may be obsolete and worth retiring.
Next, you need to architect a framework for the customer data that aligns with your digital strategy, and integrate that data with a software application that is capable of extending this information to the right resources. A CRM solution is a fundamental building block to your strategy. This software allows your organization to provide a seamless experience across multiple channels. An application like Microsoft Dynamics CRM can integrate everything customer-centric to your business. You will be able to deliver real-time business intelligence that creates a level transparency unmatched by basic contact management and sales force automation tools.
We’re living in a 24/7 society, which means you must be consistent across all hours of the day and not just optimized for time of peak volume. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can provide this consistency thru robust self-service capabilities, interactive knowledge bases, social media listening, marketing automation tools and call center services.
If you’d like to discuss more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and how it aligns with your digital strategy, please feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected]. RSM LLP is a nationally recognized partner in the mid-market ERP and CRM market with offices across North America. We offer a full range of technology and management consulting services that include implementations, solution optimization, process improvement, development, hosting and support. For more information regarding our services, please contact our professionals at 855.437.7202 or email us.
By: Eric Blevins – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner Kansas City