4 omnichannel
challenges and
their solutions

Author: Rose de Fremery

An omnichannel strategy can help earn customer loyalty and ensure continued growth, but it can be surprisingly tricky to get it right. Every company can face omnichannel challenges if they have not developed a comprehensive strategy, and companies with little experience can benefit from understanding potential common pitfalls. For example, a customer might discover to their dismay that the smooth experience they enjoyed on social media did not carry over to the voice call they later had with an agent or vice versa.

These moments of unanticipated friction can be costly, hurting the bottom line much sooner than businesses might expect and creating a bad brand experience. According to NICE's 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report, 41% of customers say they will look to the competition after just two poor digital experiences, while 25% of businesses predict that customers will depart that quickly.1

The ideal scenario, from the customer's perspective as well as the business' point of view, is for such problems to never arise in the first place. With careful preparation and a customer-centric approach, businesses can avoid common pitfalls and provide an exceptional omnichannel experience that satisfies their customers.

Common omnichannel challenges and their solutions

Although omnichannel experiences can be truly transformative when done right, challenges still exist. Without the right omnichannel strategy, businesses may fail to understand their customers' needs, struggle to provide customers with a consistent experience, ineffectively leverage data and neglect to measure the right metrics for a successful customer journey. Here's a look at the four most common omnichannel challenges companies face and the solutions that overcome them.

1. Not meeting customer expectations

There's a significant gap between what customers want and what businesses think they do. For example, according to the NICE’s 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report:2

  • Less than a third of businesses offer customer service via chat even though a majority (52%) of customers prefer chat to other channels.
  • Only 11% of companies are prioritizing making self-service smarter, but 36% of customers consider this a priority.
  • Nearly half (46%) of customers say they turn to Google first when seeking customer support, yet only 15% of businesses think that's where their journey for help begins.

Companies that don't understand their customers' preferences or behavior will be at a disadvantage when it comes to satisfying their customers' expectations.

An effective omnichannel strategy emphasizes customer empathy, elevating their experience above all other considerations. If the business hasn't taken the time to fully understand what the customer desires, it will have precious little opportunity to meet that customer's expectations. Likewise, if the company hasn't attempted to put itself in the customers' shoes by visualizing what the customer journey actually looks like and the emotions it evokes, then it won't know when moments of friction or frustration arise—and it won't have an opportunity to make things right.

Businesses can work to overcome these challenges by conducting a customer journey map to help identify pain points in the customer journey and researching customer behavior. Such work can be done by leveraging the first-party data the business already has as well as market research and third-party data sources. Customer surveys can also bring to light gaps in the customer experience, and social media monitoring can similarly identify areas for improvement. Competitor research may also illuminate how other companies are responding to customers' rapidly changing expectations.

2. Inability to provide a seamless journey

Omnichannel engagement relies on effective integration to deliver the smooth, seamless experience that customers expect. This integration is also one of the more challenging tasks to pull off well. When businesses are not able to pull the right data together across all the channels their customers are using, the resulting customer experience could be less than optimal. Customers may find that crucial context from a conversation they started on a live chat session doesn't carry over when they are transferred to a customer service agent, for example. As a result, they may find themselves repeating key information from the very beginning and finding themselves annoyed at the time wasted.

Other times, the business may simply not have taken advantage of best practices that could take the omnichannel experience to the next level. For example, a retailer could make the customer experience far more appealing and convenient by making each channel shoppable rather than requiring customers to switch channels just to complete a purchase. As a result, there could be lost opportunities that retailers don't even notice, and potentially, unrealized revenue.

An omnichannel solution can help your business achieve the integration your customers seek. For example, a cloud omnichannel contact center platform allows agents to seamlessly interact with customers via voice, email, chat, social and mobile channels. Businesses can deploy new channels as needed, satisfying their customers' changing preferences as they evolve. 

3. Lack of personalization

Personalization is absolutely fundamental to today's customer experience. If a company doesn't get it right, the customer will notice—73% of shoppers expect companies to understand their unique needs and experiences. This can be especially challenging in an omnichannel environment, however, in which channels must be fully integrated and data must be properly shared. Without a personalized approach to customer engagement, the company will have a hard time delivering the right message to the customer at the moment when it will have the greatest impact. Data-driven insights could be harder to come by as well, blocking the path toward future customer experience innovations.

Data silos and poor-quality data are the enemies of a good customer experience. A customer data platform (CDP) is a powerful omnichannel solution for addressing just these sorts of issues, unifying disparate streams of customer data into a single pane of glass and enabling businesses to properly personalize the omnichannel experiences they provide.

A CDP can also support cross-functional collaboration, enabling sales and marketing colleagues to better align on strategy and execution. Proper data management processes ensure that customer data is accurate and up to date, reflecting customers' actual tastes and preferences as they change over time. According to Salesforce, less than one-third of executives say they have a complete and consistent view of their customers, despite 88% believing it to be crucial to the future of their business.

4. Not measuring KPIs

As the old adage goes, you can't manage what you can't measure. Marketers carefully analyze their campaigns to ensure they're hitting their targets, but they may not necessarily drill down this analysis to each stage of the customer journey (or, as it's called in the B2B sector, the buyer's journey). Businesses that don't evaluate the customer journey in this way are inadvertently denying themselves an opportunity to understand the customer experience—and, from there, improve it.

By assigning key performance indicators (KPIs) to various stages of the customer journey, companies can spot areas in which customers encounter friction or difficulties that may cause them to abandon their carts or give up on engaging with the business altogether. They can leverage these insights to understand customer behavior, proactively highlighting potential issues before they become full-fledged deal-breakers that hurt the bottom line. Best of all, by including KPI analyses in their regular workflows, businesses can continuously improve the customer experience that they offer and continue meeting customer expectations even as they evolve.

Overcome omnichannel challenges and satisfy your customers

Omnichannel experiences are fundamental for future business growth, yet they can be surprisingly hard to pull off. Even forward-thinking businesses struggle to meet customer expectations or ensure seamless customer journeys. Each of these challenges has a solution, however. By taking the time now to proactively address these common issues, your business can increase its chances of omnichannel success.

Discover how Verizon's Contact Center and Customer Experience Solutions services help you build brand-defining customer experiences.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.

1 NICE, 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report, page 5.

2 Ibid.