Consistency in multichannel digital experiences – Part 1: Benefits & best practices
There are two dominant, but seemingly contradictory truths when it comes to modern day digital experiences:
1. People are increasingly getting used to omnichannel / multichannel experiences
2. People are increasingly prioritizing consistency when interacting with brands
At first glance, this contradiction appears to entail quite a few problems. How can you ensure your user and customer experience remain consistent across different channels and devices? And, perhaps even more importantly, how can you ensure that this consistency is itself consistent across time as technology trends and practices evolve?
We’ll dive into these questions in this three-part series of articles. In part one, we’ll be taking a detailed look into why you need to provide consistent experiences and what the best practices for creating them are.
In part two, we’ll provide an overview of what your main technology considerations should be, and in part three, we’ll explore the key implementation considerations of a consistent multichannel strategy. Let’s get started.
Why you need to ensure consistency
In this section, we’ll discuss the main benefits of being consistent and reasons why you should make it a priority in the current digital landscape.
Seamless / connected experiences
If you want your business to succeed and your profits to grow, it’s essential that you maximize the customer experience and make your desired conversions as easy as possible for your customers.
Connected experiences eliminate unnecessary hurdles in a customer journey and facilitate on-the-go experiences such as ecommerce embedded in social media, allowing for seamless purchases without switching to a different platform or device. This is becoming increasingly important as mobile usage continues to rise and customers increasingly expect instant access, engagement and transactions.
Today’s consumers, especially the younger gen Y and Z, place a lot of importance on the brand – what it stands for, how it interacts with their customers, how relevant it is, and how consistent it is. They’re very focused on the experience and can have a huge impact on the reputation of the brand in question.
Consistent experiences are able to much more clearly convey the brand image and thus contribute to a stronger, more recognizable and better established brand. In contrast, a brand with inconsistent experiences can be viewed as sloppy, not customer-focused and/or not up to date with trends.
Less churn and greater retention & conversion
Building upon the previous two points, inconsistency leads to more customers deciding to stop doing business with a brand (this is called churn or attrition), while well thought-out, consistent experiences lead to more conversions and greater retention of customers.
Empathy establishes and strengthens trust
Ultimately, your digital experiences should be customer-centric rather than based exclusively on company goals and KPIs, and having empathy for customers is the key to creating experiences that matter to them most.
It means understanding their needs as well as their pain points, then tailoring the multichannel experiences to this understanding, in a holistic way that establishes you as a trustworthy brand across all channels rather than leaving your customers unsure whether or not they can trust you following some inconsistent experiences.
Best practices and practical tips
This section will break down 5 best practices and practical tips on how to go about creating consistent experiences across all your key channels.
Make sure your departments and/or teams are on the same page
You can’t expect your consumer-facing experiences to be consistent if your internal teams and processes lack alignment. A siloed workplace and poor collaboration between different departments can only result in disjointed experiences, even if each one is great individually.
Facilitate and promote using efficient communication channels and modern workflows to allow teams to work well both individually and collaboratively. Eliminate physical silos and focus on the company culture to help employees connect both with each other and with the values your company stands for.
Go agile for fast innovation, frequent iteration
Moving from IT into the broader digital business, agile is now the modus operandi for most successful companies at least in some capacity. It facilitates remote, distributed and asynchronous collaboration, while maintaining project cadence with frequent synchronization and cross-team connections.
Agility enables fast innovation through frequent iteration, which is ideal for a marketplace where new channels can quickly rise to prominence and outcompete each other, where a more traditional waterfall approach would be much too slow to respond to these changes.
Leverage design thinking and human-centered design
While not interchangeable concepts, design thinking and human-centered design both have empathy at their core. Following either of the two (or, better yet, combining both of them) will necessitate you to put the customer first and plan projects accordingly.
Ensure good data management
You can’t create consistent, connected experiences if the different teams responsible for it don’t have access to the same data. You need interconnected systems around a central platform such as a CRM, which will enable you to make data-informed decisions without making any of the textbook personalization fails.
This will also allow you to leverage data for learning which channels your customers frequent so you won’t waste precious resources optimizing and investing into those channels with a poor ROI.
Thoroughly test on multiple channels
To ensure consistency across all the channels, you’ll need to implement thorough testing processes; test for multiple platforms, browsers and devices, making use of data you collect to determine which of these to prioritize.
This first part of the series serves as a starting point for creating a successful and consistent multi/omnichannel digital strategy. Check out this article to learn more about optimizing your digital strategy for omnichannel digital experiences, and tune in later this week for part two of this series, in which we’ll explore the technology and architecture considerations.