Procurement 29 November 2016

The benefits of an omnichannel business model

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An omnichannel business model can provide companies with enhanced customer engagement and multiple avenues for growth

Here, Kevin Britt, UK country manager at telecommunications provider Infobip, considers the benefits to small company owners in adopting an omnichannel business model – providing multiple avenues of communication to provide a better customer experience.

The concept of an omnichannel approach to business messaging is nothing new. In recent years omnichannel has become a buzzword for many businesses, especially small companies, looking to better communicate with their users – be that a customer, business client or internal employee.

It’s fast becoming the industry standard for modern communication strategies, and the benefits this technology can offer for business growth and development are well known. However, when it comes to introducing an omnichannel messaging approach, challenges remain for many small businesses.

The current messaging landscape

Steady demand for increased flexibility in how users interact with brands and businesses has fuelled the shift towards omnichannel. Today, the average consumer expects an array of options when engaging with companies – whether it’s through SMS, a voice call, or something else entirely.

As a result, the sheer number of communications channels being adopted to engage users is continuing to grow. Advancements in this technology is also what has allowed businesses to implement a wealth of additional communication platforms, including push notifications and OTT apps.

This omnichannel approach to business communications can be used not only to support more tailored and advanced marketing strategies, but also for all communications tactics within a business.

Regardless of the sector a small business falls into, omnichannel messaging can play a vital role in increasing brand visibility, generating more routes for interaction with prospective and existing customers, and also improving overall customer satisfaction.

Honing the benefits of omnichannel can help generate those all-important sales that are vital to the growth and expansion of any business.

Omni-challenges

According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong omnichannel business strategies retain an average of 89 per cent of their customers and see an average 9.5 per cent year-over-year increase in annual revenue.

Yet introducing an omnichannel platform is not straightforward.

Whilst rolling out omnichannel has been proven to improve customer interaction, implementing this approach has been far from simple in the business world. Many are quick to talk about the benefits of omnichannel but the wealth of different communication channels available through this approach can pose an implementation challenge for business owners.

Many often struggle to make an advanced communications platform like this a practical reality.

Many small business owners find it difficult to introduce an effective omnichannel messaging platform on their existing IT infrastructure, and part of the problem is that patching together a number of separate solutions for email, push, SMS, voice, chat and any other channel is neither practical nor cost effective.

If a company does choose to roll out their own omnichannel messaging approach, new challenges can also arise; how do they then introduce cross-channel support, effectively manage different user segments, or co-ordinate the messages being sent across all these disparate channels?

These are all considerable concerns. If the omnichannel platform in place is not up to scratch, the communications approach adopted by a business will likely cause more harm than good.

A new model for omnichannel business support

For businesses to successfully engage with customers, therefore, it is essential they have a fully joined up platform in place that can provide the flexible communication they require – one that can be used to communicate with users in a way they want, when they want, and how they want – and that can be operated through a single centralised hub.

The need for this new functionality has led to a better way for small businesses and larger enterprises to take advantage of everything omnichannel has to offer – by choosing a global messaging partner that can provide a one-stop-shop to seamlessly integrate messaging, user segments and reporting through one system.

Known as the Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) model, this relatively new approach is designed to help businesses of all shapes and sizes unlock the true value of omnichannel.

The benefits to businesses

It’s clear that having a professional omnichannel business messaging platform in place is vital, but it’s only one piece of the overall puzzle.

Being able to monitor, analyse, and report on customer engagement across all channels is also important. Having access to these insights opens up new avenues for marketing and other business functions too.

Once you know when, where, and how individual customers prefer to be engaged, following promotional messages will be met with a more receptive audience. This is another area where the benefits of a CPaaS provider outweigh a brand attempt to introduce their own disparate, non-centralised omnichannel solution.

A further consideration is how communication mediums are constantly in a state of flux. Consumer preferences change and new messaging services launch, adding new challenges.

A CPaaS provider can offer quick support for these new platforms, helping to meet consumer expectations – whether it’s chat bots designed to reduce call centre costs, social network messaging integration, or an expansion of the number of major OTT applications that are supported to meet the needs of each enterprise.

A robust SMS platform, and longstanding heritage in text messaging as a communications tool, is also important. SMS is still one of the fastest ways to engage with customers, as they aren’t required to log into a chat session, respond to an email, or enable push notifications on their phone, and is essential in an omnichannel environment as a fall back.

Reap the rewards of omnichannel

It’s clear that the customer-business engagement dynamic has been irreversibly changed by the growth of multi-channel messaging in recent years. This revolution has given omnichannel a renewed importance in the business world as businesses look to better communicate with their users.

The advantages of omnichannel are clear; it can provide businesses with enhanced customer engagement and multiple avenues for growth.

While it may seem a daunting task to integrate the omnichannel business model, small business owners can quickly and easily take advantage of this technology by selecting the right messaging partner, powered by CPaaS, to make it a reality.

Kevin Britt is UK country manager at Infobip.

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