The need for omnichannel UX has greatly increased because users these days are relating with businesses in evermore diverse ways, most times shuffling between channels throughout their relationship with a brand’s product or service.
When it comes to how a brand is perceived across different channels, be it a B2B (business to business) company or a B2C (Business to Consumers) company, a user expects to see it as a single entity. For example, a website and social media channels belonging to a particular b2b brand should not give a user different experiences. When experiences or UI designs across various communication channels differ or become inconsistent, users develop confusion and most times leave for another brand.
B2B Omni-channel User experience (UX) basically means creating one cohesive, consistent user experience across all channels associated with the b2b company.
Delving deep, Let’s explore:
- What Omnichannel UX really entails and its 5 elements.
- Omnichannel vs. Multichannel experience.
- 3 tips to ensure a seamless B2B Omnichannel User Experience Design.
Let's get going, shall we?
What does Omnichannel UX really entail?
An Omnichannel UX strategy contains consistent messaging, visuals, and positioning statements across all channels, platforms, and devices. It creates a seamless brand experience for your b2b customers by ensuring that your brand is presented the same way from platform to platform. It is basically an approach to UX that is based on not just a particular interaction type on one channel, but the overall quality of interaction between a brand and its target audience across various channels.
In Omnichannel UX, rather than developing an approach that addresses important user experience channels like the website designs and mobile apps, the designer is obligated to develop one that addresses every portal/channel available for the b2b brand-user interaction.
There are 5 key components of a successful Omnichannel experience –
- Consistency – This covers familiarity and confidence, learnability, efficiency, and trust.
- Seamlessness – Where the transitions (or handoffs) from one channel to the next involve zero or minimal overheads for the users.
- Optimisation for Context – Incorporating helpful and usable context-specific elements necessary to create an exceptional user experience.
- Orchestrated – Refers to the planning or coordination of the journey to minimize user effort for future actions.
- Collaborative – Resolving limitations of an available interaction channel by reducing interaction costs on that channel and enriching existing interactions.
Omnichannel vs. multichannel experience.
‘Omnichannel’ and ‘Multichannel’ are terms that some people still use interchangeably. It's understandable as they are quite similar in one sense. In the real sense though, they shouldn’t be used interchangeably because they are actually two slightly different terms.
- A multi-channel experience works across more than one single channel, for example, phone and email. While,
- An omnichannel experience offers a seamless experience on every possible channel, so there’s never a ‘gap’ perceptible from the customer’s point of view.
A multi-channel experience is just like having two or more people working for an organisation. This group of people can be working for one organisation, but have different styles, personas and may not even know each other’s role in the organisation. They are all working but are not interconnected (Different experiences across different channels).
Omnichannel experience on the other hand is like having one person who does his duties efficiently and can take care of all the organisation’s needs across all parastatals. (Singular great interconnected experience across all the various channels)
Tips to ensure a seamless omnichannel user experience design.
Stick to a user-first approach.
Having the user at the center of the creative design process right from the start is key to designing a seemingly seamless omnichannel user experience. When you do so, you are able to gain a deep understanding of numerous user groups and devices, their pain points, as well as their expectations from each of the devices.
Studying users by observing them, conducting surveys, and talking to them in the form of user interviews (A combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods) can help you better understand user needs and information flow across all channels. Accurate personas and scenarios that show how users will utilize a product across various devices can then be developed from the data.
Mapping the journey of the user is also crucial to designing the right multichannel experience. Ditch the organizational silos and instead group together elements that arise organically as part of the user’s actual interaction journey.
Play to the strengths of the respective devices.
When someone interacts with a particular device, they expect a certain level of performance. In order to provide a great omnichannel experience, you must be aware of each device's strengths and provide device-specific functionality. By providing device-specific experiences, you can make users feel comfortable during their interactions.
An omnichannel user experience that is user-focused can be designed for b2b brands by taking into account the limitations of devices or by leveraging device-specific advantages.
The Starbucks Reward Program app, for example, makes it simple for users to interact with their favourite coffee shop. While it remains heavily mobile-focused, it offers a seamless transition, enabling users to check and reload their card using the website, or physically in-store, so that any change to the card or profile at that time will be updated immediately across all channels in real-time.
Enable seamless multichannel experiences.
Fragmented or disjointed multi-channel experiences are the foremost reason for user frustration, reduced productivity, efficiency, and income. The device-to-device transitions should feel seamless and natural to the user, as well as provide a consistent experience. This implies that, in addition to having the same visual and functional designs across devices, data and functionality should also be consistent.
These days, Users want seamless multi-channel user experiences that maintain the same experience across devices. Synchronization is a critical component of such experiences. Synchronization ensures that users can move from one device to another without encountering any bumps.
For example, to apply for a visitor visa to the United Kingdom, applicants must submit a form that takes several pages to complete and requires extensive information. However, once they have created an account, users may complete the form at their own pace and access it from any device using their login information. The UK Government Digital Services (GDS) team, which won Design of the Year for their exceptional services, designed this system.
To wrap it all up,
Omni-channel experiences, particularly in the b2b sector should aim to provide 360-degree engagement between brands and their users across all channels and touchpoints. While many stand-alone b2b websites, b2c websites, social media pages, and applications are strong by themselves, it’s important to remember that a true b2b omnichannel experience needs to be designed around businesses and their needs (Their pain points).
It’s often both expensive and challenging to create a backend platform and APIs to facilitate a true omnichannel experience across multiple channels but it’s entirely worth the investment, ensuring satisfaction, returning customers, and even creating the potential to transform customers into brand ambassadors.