How to Create an Omni-Channel Strategy

By Jeremy Blake on July 22, 2015

The mindset of the consumer is the mindset of the retailer. Last weekend as the omni channel directors and operations people were in their gardens and christening their barbecues, a lot of them realised they had run out of fuel or needed more food.

What did they do? Look in the cupboards and garage first and then go online, or did they get in their cars and drive to the shops?

In most cases a dash to a large enough store on the edge of a town provided the missing pieces. If when they got to those shops and they had run out, according to an IMRG report recently, only 20% of retailers could have helped them order online for future delivery.

How to create an Omni Channel Strategy?

So when we think of building an omni channel strategy, do we build one from the outside in or the inside out?

In this post, the first thing that I want you to consider is your people and analyse what their skill sets are.

Could you give them a number of tablets meaning your entire extened range is accessible, and your out of stock items, and help your customers buy what they want while they're looking for it?

To do that well you need confident and well trained people approaching customers with an Effective Opening Question, Reality Principle no. 1!

Did you recruit people for conversation and sales skills or for heavy lifting and head down efficiency?

If you already have a call centre receiving hundreds of thousands of calls a day, are you studying demand and then serving that demand?

Don't look at the numbers look at the percentages. If 1,000 people call you and a hundred want to buy and you haven't had the skills to sell to them, then a 10% sales conversion rate opportunity hasn't been taken.

Are your call centre people customer service types, telling customers wonderful facts about your products and believing that they'll go back into your bricks to complete the purchase? Or worse still, believe they'll go to your own website and buy it themselves online, because that's less cost isn't it? Isn't it?! Never mind the pop ups and behavioural marketing that is tracking them and saying, "try us!"

To the pure etailers, now able with ever advancing technology to see who is on your site and at what points they get stuck or bail out, are you offering a web chat service run by skilled typers and people highly conversant in the language of your nation who can eloquently ask powerful questions to discover what the customers really want?

The highly skilled web chat consultant can act like an artist providing efficient answers to their most burning questions, better than any Frequently Asked Questions Page!

I don't know about you but I've always wanted to feel my question was a bespoke one or at least one that was special to me and being directed to a list of FAQ's always translated to FAQ off to me!

I had the priviledge of working with some wise men and women in San Antonio with Travelocity and training them to handle web chat enquiries. They already had great conversational skills on the phone and therefore had been selected to head up this new channel which formed part of our training transformation project.

Once we had given them some strong principles to make it clear to customers through the type word that they were bright and capable, they were able to build trust and move customers through the channels.

Sometimes a well crafted email would be sent, allowing the customer to come back to them via web chat or to go online, or call; at others a "that's a question that I can answer much more clearly over the phone" would result in the customer switching to telesales and continuing with a conversation.

Travelocity don't have stores, but imagine one of your call centre people realising when customers need face to face help, "Gary in the Newcastle store only 15 minutes from you is an expert on this, when can Gary meet you to help?"

I believe a huge part of developing your Omni Channel Strategy beings with understanding the omni channel capabilities of your managers, sales and service people. For years we talked about our back office staff and our customer facing staff. Now even the staff on the phones and online are 'customer interfacing'.

Run a skills audit and learn who in your business can truly become omni channel. The days of our staff or as we like to say now, our colleagues, Mao would be proud, getting away with "I like face to face and on the phone, but I'm not doing web chat or emails", are numbered!

With great people who are trained professionally and become experts in either managing people or delivering omni channel sales and service comes high omni channel conversion rates.

People are no longer waiting and twiddling their thumbs for the next prospect to pop up in their comfort zone, they are closing a customer in another channel.

What is your omni channel conversion rate?; is a question we'll all be used to very soon.

Omni Channel Tips

1. Analyse the omni channel skill set of your people - run an omni skills audit.
2. Which other channels can they most easily move into with your customers?
3. Are you going to use omni channel instore with your captive customers?
4. How can you help customers move through all the channels to the one they want to spend in?
5. Can you begin to develop a culture of sharing customers across your channels and break the silo senility?

If you'd like more help in getting to grips with the opportunites of Omni Channel why not grab our guide and have access to videos, blogs and a webinar all devoted to this subject over the next few weeks click here.