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Omni-Tech for Omnichannel Selling

My last blog talked about the challenges of becoming an omnichannel retailer, and how stores are still learning how to make changes that cut across their entire business. We discussed how, appearances to the contrary, omnichannel selling is still about meeting a basic business requirement – finding the best outcome for you and your customer. However, finding these outcomes is a more complex proposition than it used to be.

Logically, to achieve consistent outcomes you need to achieve consistent consumer outreach, input, and sales approaches. But stores are also facing the demand to create a more personalized sales experience. How do you meet these seemingly contrary requirements? The key here is to find new ways to reach out to shoppers as part of the whole shopping experience, no matter what the channel.

For example, Cisco’s Remote Expert solution is a way to offer unique, personalized, yet centralized retail experiences for customers. It connects each shopper with a product expert wherever they are located, in real time, via mobile, immersive, or on-site channels. You save by leveraging your experts across single or multiple locations and devices using a pool of experts who may or may not be co-located, instead of providing expertise at every site or asking them to travel extensively. Retailers can also use the same solution to host training and corporate meetings, or to enable store feedback on products and merchandising. The result is a personalized shopping experience at a lower cost for the store.

Pretty sweet, don’t you think? To learn more, take the time to attend the webcast “Just Ask the Expert: Connect Your Shoppers to Virtual Experts, Anywhere, Any Time,” being held on Nov. 7. You can register here.

Truly omnichannel technologies are designed to support cost savings and efficiency, providing a more seamless interface for service that is customized for the shopper. As I said in my last blog, these approaches focus first and foremost on customer needs, making it easier to do business with your company.  A customer-centric strategy cuts across the business and all its channels, creating a different kind of relationship between you and your shoppers. See what Retail Systems Research has to say in their latest report about omnichannel strategies.

I love retail trivia! Comment below if you know the answer to this question: What is the second-most visited retail business in America? (Wal-Mart is first.)

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Visit Cisco FSI and Discover What’s Possible at BAI Retail Delivery 2013

On November 5, retail financial services business leaders from around the world will gather at BAI Retail Delivery 2013, the financial services industry’s most comprehensive and relevant event of the year. Cisco in collaboration with Intel® will showcase our solutions portfolio that enables the Omnichannel delivery model and how it applies to various consumer banking experiences whether at home, in the branch, or on the road, to support seamless customer experiences and grow your business.

Booth Demonstrations

Today’s empowered financial services consumers expect a seamless experience. They want to engage with their bank when, where, and how they choose. While innovating to meet their demands, banks also must increase sales, grow profits, and reduce operating costs. Cisco executives will be at the BAI Retail Delivery Conference to demonstrate our Omnichannel sales enablement solutions that will help you:BAI 2013 Booth Blog

Our demonstrations will show how Cisco can enable retail banks to be more intimate and responsive to their clients’ needs; driving increased client satisfaction and wallet share through seamless customer experiences, while at the same time enable business growth. Read More »

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How the Heck Do You Omnichannel?

The buzz in retail these days is “omnichannel” – we see slogans such as “Engage with Today’s Omnichannel Consumers,” “Develop Your Omnichannel Business” frequently. Cisco itself uses this word often. But in all honesty, I don’t think many people fully grasp the concept and its potential. And I don’t know of any retailer that has a complete approach to it. That’s right: None. 

Omnichannel retailing is about opening the store, its products, and services to shoppers in an immersive way that drives customer interaction across any point of access, at any time. “Omnichannel” is not just about connecting existing systems, it’s a transformational way to look at how you conduct business.

Becoming an omnichannel retailer is a broad undertaking, and many retailers are creating new executive positions to lead this strategy. However, I think these companies may be missing the boat. When thinking about omnichannel strategies, consider three key points:

First, a customer-centric strategy cuts across all organizations in the business – it can’t be sidelined into one business function such as IT. I often consult with retailers who experiment with different capabilities in a disconnected way; essentially, they throw technologies at the wall and wait to see what sticks. Instead, why not start by asking, “What does my customer want? How can I build a loyal relationship with them?” It’s all too easy to assume that showrooming is the enemy. But, really, why, for example, is Amazon successful? It’s not because they are available on a mobile phone. It’s because they are easy to do business with, offer good pricing, and deliver quickly. It’s about the way they address customer needs.

Next, I think stores often try to do too much at once (see wall-sticking, above). Instead, I recommend a phased approach that starts with the low-hanging fruit – projects that have the highest probability of effectiveness and can be measured against business targets as a whole. Every store has its niche, and one size does not fit all. By achieving rapid successes up front, retailers gain funding for the next piece of the strategy, building from success to success.

Finally, accept the fact that an omnichannel business will change how people work. Are you avoiding Internet access because you think associates will waste time surfing the web? Some may – but your good salespeople will be able to leverage online information to help them serve shoppers. Concerned that showrooming on the floor will drive customers away as they find lower prices online? Build your own identity, brand, and incentives into the online environment to drive sales. Worried that an online storefront or call center will undercut in-store sales? Run the numbers on losses over time as consumers find your store is the only one without convenient mobile customer support.

Omnichannel is not about the technology. Rather, it’s about finding the best outcome for you and your shoppers. To achieve success, IT and business must work together to solve customer problems for the store as a whole – there’s no other way to do it with complete success. Check out this great blog by Cara Waters, Five Lessons in Retail Trends.

I love retail trivia! Comment below if you know the answer to this question: What is the oldest US retail company?

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Connecting Experts to Customers with Omnichannel Delivery

Are you familiar with the bank of yesterday? One where trying to meet with an expert can translate into being required to travel across town or deal with lengthy wait times and lines? Where it can take days and even weeks to receive and sign documents to close a mortgage or open a new account? And yet many other aspects of your life can be addressed from the privacy and security of your home, at a time that is convenient to you.

I suspect many have encountered these or similar frustrations while attempting to gain valuable advice and support from a financial expert at a bank. However, these are becoming issues of the past thanks to the emergence of the omnichannel banking model.

The bank of now is here. Customers may make their own choice of when, where, and how they want financial service interaction. The omnichannel model orients the bank to focus on the customer, independent of product or geography, enabling customers to connect with the right expert at the right time at their preferred channel. One key to executing this strategy is recognition that a bank has to go beyond yesterday’s multi-channel integration by leveraging technology to virtually connect customers with the people who are best suited to address their needs. To get started down the omnichannel path, Read More »

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The Evolution of Immersive Video in the Retail Bank Branch Series (3): Remote experts in action

July 22, 2013 at 8:45 am PST

In part two of this three-part series detailing the “Evolution of Immersive Video in the Retail Bank Branch,” I looked at Cisco’s Remote Expert Solution more in-depth and discussed how the solution’s contact center enables virtual face-to-face meetings with high-definition video. By offering customers instant access to knowledgeable experts, even when customers are in remote areas, banks can provide personal service resulting in improved customer confidence in the relationship and greater loyalty. Now that we understand how the solution works, I’d like to take a deeper look at the solution in action and discuss how Remote Expert can meet customer needs in three key business areas.

Wealth Management Services

Remote Expert’s video sharing capability allows investment advisors to visually see the customers they are pitching new products and services to and helps them to gauge how to lead the conversation. In some cases, portfolios may be complex, especially when involving trusts, so video adds an additional medium in which to connect with the customer and explain the approach being presented by the wealth advisors. This is something that cannot be accomplished easily over the phone and traditionally has involved air travel to meet the customer in person. For ultra-high-net worth customers (> $2 MM), Remote Expert also provides a way for multiple advisors to join the conversation remotely to guide the client through the estate planning or wealth planning discussion.

Mortgage Sales

Today, there are many mortgage programs and products available. In addition, many state and federal regulations exist as it relates to quoting and working with customers on mortgage programs. Video has been shown to be an effective way to drive additional understanding of those various mortgage products and a way to work with the customer through the pre-approval process and up to the point of underwriting. We are finding that banks are still opting for the traditional in-person closing process, but more and more institutions are experimenting with completing the entire mortgage process using Remote Expert and the available video capabilities it provides. Read More »

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