New research from hybrid customer experience (CX) solutions firm Uberall sheds light on how critically important it is for brands and businesses to adapt to the demands and expectations of customers who expect a well-integrated mix of digital and in-person touchpoints. The firm examines the issue in its new study, based on research from Forrester Consulting, Reignite Growth with Hybrid Customer Experiences.
“Customers no longer distinguish between online and offline, and expect seamless experiences regardless of the channel used to interact with a business—an expectation intensified by the pandemic,” said Florian Hübner, Uberall CEO & founder, in a news release. “This new study from Forrester reveals just how difficult it is for organizations to break down departmental silos and connect disparate systems to create a seamless end-to-end hybrid customer journey. Businesses that can get it right with a unified approach will reap the rewards.”
Uberall client Okaïdi, a retail product brand under the ÏDKIDS Group’s global umbrella, is one example of a business innovating in the area of hybrid customer experiences.
“Consumer behavior shifted with the pandemic. For our team at Okaïdi we had to change our business model overnight, offering things like click-and-collect and online appointment booking,” says Mathilde Watine, omnichannel transformation leader at ÏDKIDS, in the release. “These personalized hybrid customer experiences now set us apart in a highly competitive children’s apparel market. As an organization, we will continue to look for ways to offer our customers fully connected experiences across digital and physical channels for the best possible experience.”
Here’s a closer look at some of the study’s key findings:
Fragmented teams and solutions create fragmented experiences
According to the survey, 25 percent of activities related to the beginning and end of the customer journey are outsourced and 75 percent are managed in-house. Adding fuel to the problem, activities managed in-house are fragmented across different teams from digital marketing to customer service.
In addition, most companies use a collection of standalone solutions. This can hinder progress, with important customer experience data locked away in silos. The top three standalone solutions include social listening tools (76 percent), intelligent communications solutions (i.e. chatbots) (70 percent), and ratings and review management solutions (70 percent).
Customer engagement is a high priority post pandemic
Coming out of the pandemic priorities have shifted for businesses, with emphasis on customer relationships. In fact, 70 percent of businesses indicate that a deeper understanding of their customers is more important than before the pandemic. Customer engagement is also important, with 74% looking to connect with customers more via social media and 72 percent looking to increase customer retention and loyalty.
In-store digital capabilities are important but difficult to implement
According to the study, 73 percent of decision-makers believe digital capabilities in physical locations (i.e. QR codes, self checkout, contactless payment) are more important now than before the pandemic. However, 45 percent of those surveyed said digital capabilities in physical locations is one of the most challenging objectives to implement.
“As people return to in-person activities, the digital conveniences they have become accustomed to will not just disappear,” said Tijs van Santen, chief customer officer at Uberall, in the release. “Companies that look to smartly engage with customers across the digital and real world—making it easy and enjoyable for customers to do business with them—will gain consumer trust and loyalty.”
Businesses lack confidence in their ability to deliver seamless hybrid CX
The study found that 70 percent of decision-makers believe their organization’s ability to provide seamless customer journeys across all digital and physical touchpoints is “average”, “fair” or even “poor.” In addition, 72 percent were “interested” or “very interested” in a platform that addresses multiple marketing and customer experience needs.
Tracking and analyzing real-time customer behavior remains an effort
Nearly two-thirds of businesses (65 percent) rate their organization’s ability to track and understand customer behavior across end-to-end customer journeys as “average”, “fair” or “poor”. The study also found that when assessing the ideal technology solution to support marketing and customer experience at physical stores, the ability to connect data and analytics from customer interactions and feedback throughout the customer journey was most critical.
“Gaining a deeper understanding of the customer and their quickly changing expectations is a clear pain point,” said Tijs. “Companies that are able to effectively tap into real-time insights to adapt with changing demands will have a strong advantage in the era of the hybrid customer.”
While the challenges and barriers to the delivery of seamless hybrid customer experiences are real, businesses that can break down silos with a unified approach, will gain a competitive edge. Download the full report here.
The study features responses from more than 200 U.S. and European decision-makers at companies with 150 or more locations.