Digital tools transforming approach to omnichannel: Cloud, AI ensure seamless customer experience, data security – Technology News


The sight of a stray flyer tucked into the windshield of a car by an unknowing salesman is bound to evoke as much nostalgia as a sense of relief in the minds of the modern-day customer – the benefits that technology offers to the customer in arriving at an informed decision more than compensate for the bygone but lasting charms of the ‘simpler’ past. The sheer multitude of sources that nearly every customer can access to learn about a specific product, all at the touch of the fingertip, coupled with the proliferation of online commerce portals, has perforce compelled brands to re-evaluate existing lifecycle models for the customer’s journey along the sales funnel, and devise strategies that offer an experience that is as unique as it is comprehensive. What is more, organisations have to make strategic decisions to ensure a customer’s engagement with their brand is seamless across all touchpoints in the ‘omnichannel’ landscape. 

According to McKinsey, offering an omnichannel experience is no longer an option for retail organisations – it is vital to their very survival. In its report, the consulting firm pointed out that, while organisations may well look at omnichannel operations in isolation, customers do not, expecting a seamless experience regardless of whether they are at the store, or browsing online. The role of digitisation in transforming the retail sector’s operations has been comprehensive – from marketing all the way to tailoring customer experience across channels[1]

Flexibility in operations

Marketing in the digitised retail industry is primarily about ensuring optimal use of the many available channels to disseminate information about the brand. From search engines to apps, social media portals to the email service providers, and personalised messages on smartphones, organisations look to exploit the extensive suite of communication channels as part of their outreach initiatives. For both the customer and the organisations, the digitised arena offers flexibility across all channels, be it in the structuring of the marketing message or in ensuring a convenient shopping experience. 

McKinsey estimates that concerted efforts made to offer a personalised omnichannel experience to the customer can help organisations register an uptick in revenue between 5% to 15%. The results that Starbucks registered a decade after after it launched a campaign allowing customers to place orders online, offered cashback and personalised rewards – USD one billion in prepaid mobile deposits – offers but a glimpse of the impact customisation of experience can have on an organisation’s bottomline[2]. Personalisation of experience across all touchpoints would require organisations to compile large datasets on every customer to enhance the quality of one’s engagement with that specific brand. According to NTT DATA’s Customer Experience Report 2023, enabling easy collection of feedback across all touchpoints is the key to creating a hyper-personalised experience[3]

Besides the promising returns that omnichannel guarantees organisations in terms of customer engagement, McKinsey’s survey found that brands stood to gain as much in B2B sales. Nearly 94% of the respondents to the survey attested to omnichannel capabilities being as or more effective since the pandemic.  Resources organisations invest in enhancing their B2B omnichannel capabilities can help increase their market share, found McKinsey[2]

Cloud technology for a hyper personalised experience

From a technological standpoint, the many advancements made in the recent past enable organisations to enhance the quality of customer experience in omnichannel. For instance, cloud technology can help organisations ensure that the cross-channel engagement is seamless. Furthermore, cloud computing technology also renders it much easier for collection of feedback across all sales touchpoints. Data collected across distributed channels such as apps, webstores, and online markets can be more easily integrated on a unified database using cloud technology, thereby providing access to key information on customer experience to employees and the leadership team from anywhere. 

Cloud technology, coupled with AI, holds the key to enable organisations to offer a hyper personalised experience. Since tailoring a personalised experience to every individual customer entails collation and subsequent analysis of datasets compiled from a huge number of disparate sources, organisations use AI and Machine Learning tools in conjunction with cloud technologies to create a prospective map of the customer’s journey through the sales funnel. AI and cloud technologies are equally vital to ensuring the security of the customer’s data. Furthermore, it is important that customers know that the data they are sharing with an organisation are not used for the promotion of its business but purely for enhancement of experience. 

Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS)

A particularly elegant solution that could be mutually beneficial to both customers and organisations is the deploying of ‘Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS)’. 

CCaaS is a customer-facing interface, allowing them to interact and engage with organisations across channels continuously, and through a unified system. The use of CCaaS ensures that the organisation can respond to customer complaints or queries directly, while the customer is assured of support directly from the brand[3]. For the organisations, effective use of CCaaS, besides increasing the efficiency of their customer experience strategy can prove a cost-saving measure, by enabling them to rid their operational structure of many redundant layers. It is the opportunity to use data thus collected in real-time, not only across online channels but even in the brick-and-mortar stores, that turns an organisation’s digital capabilities into an invaluable asset. 

Ensuring employee satisfaction is key

Notwithstanding the many advantages that deployment of advanced technologies at strategic operational points can offer, the success of its omnichannel strategy hinges primarily on the employees. The Customer Experience Report 2023 documented that organisations stepping up efforts to satisfy customers were simultaneously investing in initiatives to improve Employee Experience (EX). Innovative EX strategies that organisations are investing in are significantly broader in scope insofar as extending beyond just wellbeing, and satisfaction. Such initiatives entail extensive use of cloud-based technologies[3]. Given that each customer-facing touchpoint is either created by, or requires the services of the organisation’s employees, it is necessary for organisations to make their workforce feel that they have a stake in their success. In the domain of service operations, in particular, where customer experience is evaluated based on the quality of one’s interaction with the employee, organisations need to take steps to optimise the quality of EX. It is not surprising then that nearly 92% of the organisations surveyed for NTT’s report felt that improving employee experience would have a proportionate impact on customer experience. An overwhelming majority of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) surveyed for the compilation of the report stressed the need for a cloud-based unified communication service to ensure optimal levels of employee satisfaction. 

Threading together a seamless omnichannel experience thus entails effective and strategic use of digital tools, coupled with an enabled and empowered workforce who are as well acquainted with the technology used by the organisation as they are with ensuring customer satisfaction. 


  3. NTT 2023 Global Customer Experience Report 

The author is Rohit Puri, Group SVP, BPO, NTT DATA Services

Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.


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