12 Omnichannel Customer Experience Best Practices

omnichannel customer experience

An omnichannel customer experience strategy allows customers to seamlessly access your application via any device. Maybe they start with your mobile app and then transition to their tablet or laptop to finish their task, without restarting the process.

Pivoting between omnichannel customer experiences creates a complete, multi-faceted journey focused and personalized to your customers and their specific needs.

Read on for best practices to consider when making smart, context-aware applications for clients across all industries.

How different devices impact omnichannel customer experience

Customers are more digitized than ever, with 97% of Americans owning a smart device.

These devices offer quick access to media, entertainment, and communications. For organizations, they are also valuable channels through which your business can interact. Well-designed and well-implemented omnichannel strategies to maximize customer engagement are critical to responding to your users’ needs, wherever they may be.

Creating engaging omnichannel user experiences starts with understanding the different characteristics of your customers’ primary devices and the contexts in which they use them. Most devices fall within one of three main categories:

Each device has its strengths and weaknesses when meeting your customers’ needs. Understanding each can help you create an omnichannel customer experience that is seamless and consistent.

Desktop: Complex tasks and rich content

The large screen real estate on desktops enables users to perform complex tasks and processes more easily. Larger screens are also more suitable for rich content, such as:

  • High-quality video and images
  • Full-scale maps
  • Custom front-end functionality like JavaScript widgets

On a large screen, your team can present full texts to customers instead of minimal text snippets that a small screen demands

Tablet: Media consumption and creativity

Tablets offer large screens like desktop devices but with more portability. The large screen makes the tablet an excellent device for rich content consumption:

  • Applications with video
  • Long text reads
  • Statistics
  • Dashboards
  • Event timelines
  • Process overviews

Touch-based inputs are tactile and visual aspects that enable creativity, drawings, entering and ordering layered information, etc. Tablets usually have additional device features built-in, like location awareness, speech recognition, and a camera. These add new layers of information input for your applications.

Mobile: Functionality on the go

Mobile devices are the most portable of the three. Screen resolutions are improving, making visuals and text easier to see and read. However, capturing lots of input remains cumbersome due to on-screen keyboards with small keys, which take up a big part of the small screen.

Focus on pushing information or providing the functionality needed ‘in the spur of the moment.’ Don’t pull lots of information from your customers.

Mobile phones have even more built-in features than tablets that help personalize the customer experiences. These features include biometric identification, video calling, and several other assets to build your personalized customer journey.

Now that you know how each type of device contributes to omnichannel UX, you can focus on process best practices.

6 ways to create better omnichannel customer experiences

It’s not enough to offer an omnichannel application to customers. You must also ensure it addresses their needs and creates the best user experience.

Here are six best practices to consider when developing an engaging omnichannel app.

1. Put users at the center of your design process

It might seem like common sense, but we’ll still mention it: Do your research. Consider these questions as you begin your research process:

  • What devices do your customers use?
  • What way of communication (media formats, tone of voice, etc.) do they prefer?
  • What style is aesthetically attractive to them?

Make it a priority to know and understand your customers. Are they digital by lifestyle? Digital by choice? Defining personas is a good first step to achieve this.

Analytics may also offer insight into your customers’ needs. Tailor your customer journey to the information they need to make decisions and present them with options that don’t involve much effort.

2. Make customer experience an important part of your process

Designing and developing the visual part of a customer journey is vital to increasing customer engagement and understanding your customers.

You can do that by collecting feedback on new user experience patterns and refining your customer journey until it satisfies all your customers’ needs.

3. Converge digital and physical aspects of your process

Integrate digital and physical aspects of the customer experience as a single process rather than separate processes. For example:

  • Send an email or text message when the item is ready for pick up at a physical store.
  • Deliver a receipt via email when a customer picks up an item in-store.
  • Print a scannable code on the item’s packaging for follow-up actions, like suggestions for compatible accessories or a story about how the item is environmentally friendly.
  • Combine this with IoT sensors and apps to provide location-based promotions or automated restock notifications to your customers.

4. Design for seamless handoff

Anticipate situations where a customer switches devices during a workflow or process and make that handoff seamless. Allow your customers to pick up where they left off, no matter what device or operating system they switch to.

5. Prioritize better handoffs

There’s nothing more frustrating than performing work on one device and then switching to another to discover that your previously completed work hasn’t been saved or isn’t available on the new device.

Creating work baskets in your process can help you avoid this pitfall. Baskets allow users to store the items they are working on or ‘pause’ their workflow. Practical examples are the ‘Save as Draft’ and ‘Send hyperlink/QR code for this work item to [insert media]’ functions.

6. Strategize which processes should run on which devices

As mentioned before, different devices have different strengths. Creating an insurance claim, for example, could require basic input like personal details, date of birth, etc., from a mobile device. Scanning bills could also be done through the camera of a mobile phone.

However, annotating an uploaded statement is part of the process done more efficiently on a device with a larger screen and input by mouse and keyboard, like a desktop.

3 omnichannel design best practices

1. Use responsive app design

Customers don’t want to install single-purpose apps for each device just to interact with a single company. They get app fatigued. They want a single app that works well.

Use responsive app design to offer responsive web apps instead. These are web applications with similar functionality as native apps from an app store but run in a web browser without required installation.

The app can determine which type of device it’s running on. Leverage this to provide your customers with the graphical user experience and functionality best tailored to their device, context, and situation without installing new apps.

2. Maintain visual consistency throughout devices

Establish a strong visual identity and ensure consistency throughout each device a customer uses during their journey. It should incorporate recognizable layouts, graphical elements, and text.

3. Determine device information priorities

Smaller screens have less room for UI elements, like headers, images, and text blocks. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize information shown on screen by adding or omitting elements according to the available screen resolution and screen estate.

3 tips to create the best omnichannel customer experience

1. Integrate your systems to maintain consistent customer data

Integrate your back-end systems and let them synchronize data on the fly.

When you engage a customer, ensure you have all the up-to-date information and data from previous contact moments so the customer experiences consistency throughout their journey.

2. Make use of smart digital helpers

Leverage smart concepts like intelligent chatbots, next-best action prediction based on IoT or Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (i.e., recognize current customer emotion based on chatbot input) to increase customer engagement and serve them in the best way possible.

3. Optimize loading times

Take into account that loading times affect the customer experience.

According to Unbounce, loading times longer than three seconds can cause customers to leave a site. On a mobile phone, customers expect similar performance as on a desktop. Therefore, limit media sizes, only call web services when needed, and use smart browser caching to optimize loading times.

3 examples of successful omnichannel applications

1. Amazon

Amazon is the master of converging digital and in-person elements. Shoppers can order a product from home by speaking to their Alexa. They can then have the package delivered or pick it up at an Amazon locker or Whole Foods grocery store, which Amazon owns.

If they need to return an item, they can go to a range of locations and return a package with a QR code sent to their email. Shoppers then receive an email follow-up when their return has been processed.

2. Netflix

Netflix offers a great example of a seamless handoff with great visual consistency with its omnichannel customer experience. It keeps track of what series and movies you are watching in a personal list

That list is presented consistently across all devices, with similar UI elements, color schemes, and screen layouts. Pausing a series and continuing to watch it on another device is seamless and doesn’t require overhead or extra user interaction.

3. Rabobank

Rabobank, a Dutch banking company, utilizes a simplified UX when customers want to open a new account. The bank is required to ask its new customers over 20 questions before they can open a bank account

They saw that many of their potential customers were abandoning midway through the process, overwhelmed. Rabobank reduced the number of questions users had to answer when opening an account and let them complete the remaining questions after signing up.

We hope these best practices and examples help you set up your customer journeys and create engaging and unique omnichannel customer experiences. The entire process should be logical and designed with common sense!