Managing the Customer Experience in an Omnichannel World


The rapid growth of omnichannel commerce has made delivering superior customer experience critical for business success. Today's consumers fluidly switch between devices, contexts, and touchpoints as they engage with brands. Providing a seamless, consistent journey across channels is imperative for satisfying and retaining customers. However, organizational obstacles, data challenges, and rapidly evolving technologies make omnichannel experience management extremely difficult.


In this article, we explore the barriers companies face in managing holistic customer experience. We then outline best practices and enabling technologies to overcome these hurdles. By adopting customer-centric structures, leveraging data, and coordinating contextual interactions, brands can optimize journeys for omnichannel excellence.


Barriers to Omnichannel Customer Experience


While delivering consistent omnichannel customer experiences is clearly important, significant impediments prevent brands from effectively managing holistic journeys. Major barriers include:


Organizational Silos and Poor Data Integration


Many brands still have separate teams, technologies, and data for each channel. Most marketing departments are structured around specialties like social media, email, SEO, mobile apps. Customer service, sales, IT, analytics all operate in silos.


These disconnected structures spawn fragmented systems and data. Customer data gets trapped in channel-specific platforms. Journey interactions fall through the cracks. Marketing lacks visibility into sales and service data. Service can't see past marketing exposures or current campaigns.


This makes it impossible to connect the dots across touchpoints and quantify how customer experience drives satisfaction and business results. Lack of shared customer data prevents unified analytics and consistent omnichannel personalization.


Success requires a coordinated effort to consolidate data into an integrated foundation. But breaking down stubborn organizational silos remains an immense challenge. Turf wars emerge as power dynamics shift. New metrics may reveal poor performance. People cling to channel-specific tools. True integration is rare.


Difficulty Quantifying Impact on Business Outcomes


Given fragmented systems and data, it is extremely difficult for brands to accurately evaluate omnichannel customer experience and its impact on key business outcomes. Quantifying the return on experience investments has been the top CX challenge.


Many brands still rely on outdated attribution methods like last-click or first-click. These silo impacts into single channels when journeys increasingly span many touchpoints. Sophisticated analytics are needed to connect journeys with satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue.


Observational data shows correlations but not causal impact. Running valid statistical models requires advanced capabilities. Long feedback loops make linking journeys to lagging indicators like revenue tough. Surveys have bias and small samples.


Without the ability to quantify journeys' influence on outcomes, brands cannot optimize experience investments or prove CX ROI. But measuring omnichannel customer experience impact remains a persistent struggle.


Rapidly Evolving Digital Technologies and Channels


Consumer adoption of new mobile apps, personal devices, IoT, and emerging tech continues accelerating. The digital landscape evolves at a dizzying pace. Just as brands master current channels, game-changing innovations disrupt everything.


Keeping pace with customer usage and expectations across contexts is an endless race. Adoption trends constantly force brands to play catch-up. Large technology investments carry high switching costs but face quick obsolescence. Falling behind on digital capabilities has become existential.


This breakneck speed of change coupled with long development cycles makes it hard for brands to keep customer experience aligned across devices. By the time capabilities launch, consumer behaviors have shifted again. Perpetual disruption hinders omnichannel excellence.


In summary, organizational silos, data fragmentation, poor analytics, and rapid digital change have created immense barriers for brands hoping to manage integrated omnichannel customer journeys. Overcoming these hurdles requires fundamental shifts.


Journey-Focused Organizational Roles and Culture


- Successful brands realign their organizational structure around the customer journey to foster cross-functional collaboration. They create new roles like journey managers who are accountable for specific journeys end-to-end.


- Journey managers lead cross-functional teams with members from IT, operations, marketing, sales, service, analytics and more. Together, they map out and optimize high-priority journeys.


- Shared key performance indicators (KPIs), incentives, planning processes and governance reinforce the journey-focused culture. Customer experience becomes a shared responsibility across the organization.


Unified Customer Data Foundation


- Leading brands invest in customer data platforms to create a "single source of truth" by consolidating data from disparate sources into unified customer profiles.


- APIs and connectors integrate new real-time data streams from digital channels and IoT. Identity resolution links devices, sessions and interactions to individual people.


- This unified data powers analytics and enables the delivery of omnichannel experiences using comprehensive customer context instead of channel-specific silos.


Analytics to Understand Friction Points


- Analytics help identify pain points across channels that inhibit customers from achieving their goals and completing journeys successfully.


- Voice of the customer, behavioral/interaction data, and operational data are all required to get a holistic view and find root causes.


- Dashboards visualize trends and journeys to easily spot areas for improvement. Prioritization is based on potential business impact.


Contextual Real-Time Interactions Across Channels


- AI and technologies like chatbots enable companies to deliver consistent, contextual interactions across channels in real-time.


- Recommendations and offers take into account a customer's current journey status and past history to be situationally relevant.


- Context and insights are retained seamlessly through handoffs between human and digital channels.


Continuous Improvement Driven by Customer Insights


- Leading companies build cultures of rapid experimentation to continuously innovate and improve journeys.


- Cross-functional scrum teams quickly build, test and iterate digital experience prototypes based on customer insights.


- Tight feedback loops with customers accelerate learning. Features that improve journeys are released frequently.


In summary, adopting journey-focused organizational models, unifying data, leveraging analytics, interacting contextually, and rapidly innovating allows brands to understand customers, anticipate needs and optimize experiences across touchpoints.


Enabling Technologies


There are four key technology categories that act as enablers to make omnichannel customer experience management achievable:


Customer Data Platforms


- Customer data platforms (CDPs) consolidate customer data from disparate sources into unified customer profiles with a single view of each individual.


- They break down data silos across channels, systems and business units by centralizing data into a single repository.


- CDPs ingest both batch and real-time data streams through APIs and connectors. Identity resolution matches data to individuals.


- Unified profiles power analytics and personalization while data governance maintains consumer privacy and compliance.


Journey Analytics Software


- Journey analytics software reveals insights from customer behavior over time across channels.


- It connects data across systems to map full journeys and quantify business impact. AI pinpoints friction points inhibiting success.


- Visual journey dashboards easily spot trends and areas for improvement. Prioritization is data-driven based on potential ROI.


- Analytics democratization enables business teams to self-serve insights and answer questions in minutes without advanced analytics skills.


Journey Orchestration Platforms


- Journey orchestration platforms take actions to optimize experiences in real-time using customer journey context.


- They deliver consistent, omnichannel engagements across digital and human channels. Interactions are contextually relevant.


- Orchestration retains context and insights across channels enabling seamless handoffs between touchpoints.


- Easy-to-use interfaces allow marketers to define triggers, actions and rules to optimize journeys.


Flexible IT Architecture


- Successful customer experience management requires flexible, cloud-based technology architecture.


- APIs and microservices allow rapid integration of new data sources, channels and applications.


- Hybrid and multi-cloud deployments prevent vendor lock-in. Headless CMSs separate content from delivery.


- Continuous delivery optimizes deployment speed. Automation increases reliability and scalability.


In summary, brands leverage customer data platforms, journey analytics, orchestration and modern architecture to collect data, derive insights, take action and enable quick changes. Combined, these technologies allow brands to manage experiences in an omnichannel environment.




As omnichannel commerce proliferates, managing holistic customer experience is imperative but extremely difficult. Siloed systems, disjointed data, poor analytics, and lagging consumer expectations create obstacles. However, by adopting unifying structures, technologies, and processes centered around journeys, brands can begin assembling superior omnichannel customer experiences. Though the challenges are immense, the opportunities are greater.