Conversational Messaging

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Omnichannel Orchestration: How to Coordinate a Seamless Customer Journey

Jenna Alburger

November 30, 2021

Until recently, it’s been difficult to execute true omnichannel experiences. Channels, devices, and technology are evolving rapidly. And, as the landscape grows more complex, it’s increasingly hard to connect each consumer touchpoint in a meaningful way. 

As a result, brands need better tools and strategies to coordinate seamless experiences. That’s where omnichannel orchestration comes in. 

Table of Contents:

What is omnichannel orchestration?
Why does omnichannel orchestration matter now?
5 Benefits of omnichannel orchestration
     Consistency
     Continuity
     Context
     Personalization
     Speed
What technology is needed for customer journey orchestration?
Key tools for omnichannel orchestration
     Messaging apps
     Headless content management systems (CMS)
     NLP / NLU

What is omnichannel orchestration?

Omnichannel orchestration is the planning or coordination of the customer journey to minimize effort and improve interactions. It’s about understanding your customers well enough to predict their current and future needs—and having the tools in place to guide them there.

Just like a musical orchestra, omnichannel experiences require each component to work together in harmony. While there are many different sections—all with their own unique and complicated roles—they all must all be in sync to work well. 

It doesn’t matter if you have the best musicians in the world in the same room; if they’re not reading off of the same sheet of music you’ll just be left with noise. 

The same goes for retail experiences. It’s not enough to simply be present on multiple channels or to implement the latest technology. If it’s not all working together, you’ll be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. 

Why does omnichannel orchestration matter now?

The rapid increase in digital channels has led to information silos

Under pressure to be “omnichannel”, many businesses were quick to adopt new channels and invest in new technology. Unfortunately, over time, these new channels and solutions created larger problems than the ones they were supposed to solve.

Instead of prioritizing the customer journey, departmental teams focused too much on their own individual metrics—page views, click-through rates, cart abandonment, social media likes, time to resolution; and the list goes on. 

Different channels also had their own individual uses. Companies had social media for marketing and webchat for customer service, for example. But, customers never made that delineation. They only see the brand and want to get their issues solved regardless of how they reach out. 

Over time, brands developed information silos that prevented a true omnichannel experience. They developed: 

  • Content silos
  • Data silos
  • Organizational silos

Now, omnichannel orchestration is necessary to take back control. With a strategic approach, businesses can aggregate communication, content, and data in the pursuit of better experiences. 

Tech giants are raising customer expectations

We know how important it is to offer a good customer experience. Customers today will even pay a premium for great customer service (and abandon a brand after a single bad experience). 

But what we consider a “great” customer experience is changing quickly. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, Uber, and Spotify are raising the bar. Now, we expect all brand interactions to be just as convenient, personalized, and fast as our favorite streaming or shopping platforms. 

As a result, omnichannel experiences are moving from a “nice to have”  to a business-critical offering. Businesses can’t afford to offer sloppy service or serve customers ads that are irrelevant. 

People expect more, and in today’s world, omnichannel orchestration is necessary to meet these growing demands. 

Conversational commerce is now mainstream

Conversational commerce is now mainstream. People want to contact their favorite brands on the messaging apps that they use every day. It’s fast, convenient, and enables asynchronous communication.

This growth in conversational commerce has created a need to orchestrate customer conversations in a new way. People want to pick up where they left off with a brand, they expect some level of self-service (automation), and they want consistency across channels. 

According to new research from Gartner, “The customer’s need for self-service, combined with the emergence of conversational AI, has led to an evolution of most engagement models.” As such, Gartner sees the emergence of a new area of customer care referred to as digital customer service.

“Digital customer service offerings focus on seamless conversation orchestration across digital channels. Customer-centric organizations that embrace digital customer service will reap the benefits of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, and mitigate the risk of disconnected conversations with less procedural structures,” says Gartner. 

The ecommerce boom isn’t slowing down 

Lastly, as commerce continues to move online, omnichannel orchestration will only become more necessary. Expectations will continue to rise, the landscape will become more competitive, and customer journeys will become increasingly complex. 

And, it’s important to note that this shift isn’t slowing down. In 2017, Nasdaq predicted that ecommerce would account for 95% of purchases by 2040. Not even five years later, that transition has been further accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic forced brands to speed up their digital transformations. We saw years worth of change happen overnight. In parallel, the changes in behavior that we witnessed (like the dramatic shift towards online shopping) aren’t expected to return to pre-pandemic norms. 

5 Benefits of omnichannel orchestration

Consistency

Customers want their interactions handled effectively, regardless of the channel they choose. Omnichannel orchestration gives you more control, and therefore a greater ability to offer consistent experiences. 

Continuity

Customers want their brand interactions to be consistent and continuous, even if they switch channels midstream, or start, stop and restart a request. The purpose of omnichannel orchestration is to offer that continuity through better technology and coordination. 

Context

People want their conversations to be meaningful and contextual. They don’t want to have to repeat themselves. By connecting touchpoints in the omnichannel journey, omnichannel orchestration provides a more accurate assessment of what the customer needs at any given moment. 

Personalization

Customers expect service reps to recognize them, know their current relationship (purchases, etc.), and acknowledge past interactions, length of the relationship, and loyalty. Omnichannel orchestration helps leverage customer data to personalize interactions. 

Speed

Lastly, people want things handled fast. A major component of omnichannel orchestration is the use of automation. You’ll be able to automate conversations for speed without loosing context. 

What technology is needed for customer journey orchestration?

Outdated technology is a barrier to customer journey orchestration. The limitations of old enterprise resource planning (ERP) software prevent businesses from being agile, flexible, and future-proof. 

Newer companies today have a much easier time innovating because they aren’t burdened by these outdated systems. Instead, they can take advantage of today’s API economy, leveraging hyper-specialized solutions for all of their needs.

To compete, businesses require a new type of approach to technology—and even modern ERP suites aren’t a safe bet. Although ERP vendors claim that their integrated systems are a superior all-in-one solution, all modules in an ERP system are rarely the best product in each category. 

Instead of focusing on one silver bullet, businesses should focus on building a technological framework to support an ongoing digital transformation.

This framework will allow them to get the best-of-breed solution for all of their needs. It will give them the flexibility they need to survive the next decade, propelling current and future digital experiences. 

A technological framework for omnichannel orchestration

So, what does this framework look like? There’s a new name for it—MACH architecture. Without getting too technical, let’s take a look at what “MACH” stands for. 

Microservices-based

Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed. If one service fails, you can quickly identify and solve the problem. This gives you more flexibility and allows you to scale. 

API-first

All functionality is exposed through an API, making it possible to tie together two or more applications or services. A Good API is your gateway to testing, stacking, and improving different services and software. 

Cloud-Native SaaS

Software-as-a-Service that leverages the full capabilities of the cloud, beyond storage and hosting. If there’s a problem with the program, the service provider can quickly update it, eliminating costs and time on your end. 

Headless

The front-end user experience is completely decoupled from the back-end logic, allowing for complete design freedom in creating the user interface and for connecting to other channels and devices.

Key tools for omnichannel orchestration

Omnichannel orchestration requires many technologies and processes to be working in harmony. There’s no singular solution—only many solutions working together. 

With that said, there are a few important trends that are helping brands embrace an omnichannel reality. 

Messaging apps

Messaging apps bring brands to get closer to the definition of omnichannel, serving as a singular interface for all of the customers' needs. Messaging simplifies all aspects of a transaction, from discovery to purchase to fulfillment. 

Leading messaging apps are opening up their platforms to businesses (through APIs). That means that messaging apps work well within the flexible MACH architecture we described above.

For example, with Hubtype, our platform is the technical interface between your customers’ messaging apps and your CRM/tech stack. You’re able to build solutions for all business units and manage the customer experience all from one place.

Our conversational platform is designed to grow with your business, saving you time and money along the way. As the demands of customers change and the needs of your different business units evolve, you will benefit from flexible conversational technology.

Book a demo to learn more about how Hubtype can help you orchestrate a seamless customer journey. 

Headless content management systems (CMS)

A headless CMS is any type of back-end content management system where the content repository “body” is separated or decoupled from the presentation layer “head.” Content that is housed in a headless CMS is delivered via APIs for seamless display across different devices.

Hubtype uses Contentful to help our clients unify data into a singular hub, which makes editing way easier. You can change the copy or image in one place, and that change applies everywhere the content is located. 

NLP / NLU

Natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) play an important role in omnichannel orchestration. They help you understand and automate customer conversations. 

More and more brand interactions are happening through conversations. As the number of conversations grows, you need to be able to scale them effectively. 

Again, these are just a few examples of leading omnichannel tools and platforms. Book a demo to see if Hubtype is a good starting point for you, and we can talk more about which tools you’d like to integrate into your conversational strategy.

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