Once a buzzword, ‘omnichannel’ is now at the forefront of all marketers’ minds looking to improve user communication and engagement. However, despite omnichannel gaining traction for a while, and its benefits being well proven amongst those that seek to orchestrate user journeys across platforms and devices, it’s typically not been easy to implement for businesses.

The omni-landscape

According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong omnichannel strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers and see an average 9.5% year-on-year increase in annual revenue. Approached correctly, omnichannel offers increased brand visibility, more routes for interaction with new and existing customers, and much-improved customer satisfaction.

Consumer demand has been the major driving force behind the growth of omnichannel. In the age of the smartphone, where users have access to a wealth of devices, the birth of the ‘want it now’ consumer has left companies trying to adapt to a generation of users that expect easy interaction across multiple channel-based on what’s easiest for them. This could be anything from SMS, an OTT application, or something else entirely. This expectation means it’s now essential for brands to put a platform in place that delivers seamless communication and interactions in the way users want, when they want, and how they want, in order to stay ahead of the competition.

An omni-challenge

Whilst there is a clear advantage to taking an omnichannel approach, actually introducing this concept isn’t without its own challenges. A common struggle for businesses starts with initial implementation using their own existing IT infrastructure, which requires significant time and resources to get right. On top of this, stitching together separate solutions beyond SMS and email – be it push notifications, chat apps, or even voice – is neither practical nor cost effective.

Once a roll out of omnichannel does occur, other issues arise including; how do you achieve transparency between each tool, and how do you achieve easy reporting and analysis on each channel? If a business is solely focusing its efforts on the actual set up of a system and are unable to see the full picture, they run the risk of ignoring, and thereby potentially losing, the most important factor of all – the customer.

New omnichannel model on the block

Many businesses came to believe it’s vital to have a centralised platform in place, one that is able to join up all popular communications platforms and provide flexible communication, through a single integrated hub.

One way of achieving this is through the Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) model, designed to overcome these challenges businesses face when looking to roll out omnichannel and offers an array of benefits to businesses. Being able to monitor, analyse and report on customer engagement is as important having a functioning and professional omnichannel messaging platform in place. If you don’t know, when, where and how individual customers prefer to be engaged, you are at risk of missing out on potential avenues for marketing and other business functions such as promotional messages or push notifications.

Nowadays, new messaging services are regularly launched in line with the continual change in consumer demand. The CPaaS model can provide quick support for new platforms that are introduced – allowing highly efficient roll out of new solutions into a system, helping to meet consumer demand.

Furthermore, one of the other major challenges associated with managing multiple communication platforms is trying to deal with the potentially huge volume of customer messages. These can run into tens of millions on a daily basis for major brands and international businesses. Only the well-established  platforms, with a reputation for handling large amounts of traffic that already have the infrastructure, messaging framework and an extensive network in place, can ensure messages will be delivered all over the globe.

Omnichannel and beyond

Many brands and businesses are quick to talk about the benefits of adopting an omnichannel marketing approach. However, the wealth of communication channels now available can often pose a double-edged sword, and businesses can struggle to deploy a platform that is up to consumer expectations. As a result, the need for an integrated messaging platform, that manages all popular communication tools, including implementation, maintenance and management, has never been greater. By adopting the CPaaS model for their omnichannel needs, companies can truly make this a reality and drive their consumer engagement to new heights.

Author: James Gachie, Infobip

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