Managing Customer Experiences in an Omnichannel World
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Managing Customer Experiences in an Omnichannel World

Melody of Online and Offline Environments in the Customer Journey

Taşkın Dirsehan, Taşkın Dirsehan

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eBook - ePub

Managing Customer Experiences in an Omnichannel World

Melody of Online and Offline Environments in the Customer Journey

Taşkın Dirsehan, Taşkın Dirsehan

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About This Book

In a typical day, a customer's journey moves from a physical to a digital environment multiple times, to successfully and effectively manage a customer's experience organizations need to integrate both these environments in an omnichannel way.
This edited book examines customer journeys, omnichannel retailing, digital and mobile marketing, augmented and virtual reality, gamification, artificial intelligence in marketing, blockchain applications and more to provide theoretical and practical methods of impact for businesses.
The book provides insights for researchers and practitioners in the areas of marketing, digitalisation, service operations, management, communication, administrative sciences and more. The chapters intersect methodology, research, theory and applications all along the customer journey and customer touchpoints through digital and physical environments. Increasing technological developments and the wider integration of the Internet of Things will make the need for smooth omnichannel management for customers and consumers ever more important for organizations and a key factor of successful business strategy.

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Chapter 1

The Melody of Omnichannel Customer Experience Management (OCCEM)

Taşkın Dirsehan and Meltem Çelik Dirsehan


In recent years, with the development of technology, the number of contact points between companies and their customers has multiplied. From the company point of view, companies may reach their customers through multiple marketing channels. Moreover, business intelligence necessitates increasing data sources, strengthening the power of analysis tools, and developing knowledge to be used as a competitive advantage. On the other hand, today’s mostly digitized customers expect more than just commoditized products or services. Customer activation creates experiences that make them feel strong as agents perpetrating the structure (brand strategies) by taking an active role instead of being passive. In other terms, customers are in the main decision position to plan the structure. Thus, companies should design unique and memorable customer experiences through different channels in an integrated way, which is called omnichannel. Omnichannel customer experience management is possible by determining and coordinating customer touch points. In other terms, a melody should exist at these interaction points. This book aims to contribute to this advancement by first providing general reviews of the literature, then covering the pillars to design omnichannel customer experiences, and lastly providing technology-enhanced applications from several industries. This book aims also to provide fresh conceptual insights and thinking about the ways to design and develop omnichannel customer experiences.
Keywords: Omnichannel marketing; customer experiences; technology management; customer journey; customer touch points; marketing strategy


As we are at the intersection of increasing globalization, rapid technology changes, and newer lifestyles, new strategic opportunities are emerging in our lives (Bowonder, Dambal, Kumar, & Shirodkar, 2010).
The last period of marketing history, which emerged in the last decade of the twentieth century, was characterized by sustainability (Kurtz & Boone, 2010). It can be defined as development that meets current needs without ignoring the needs of future generations (Brundtland, 1987). Organizations’ sustainability strategies include natural environment, society, and economic performance (­Elkington, 1994, 2004). Therefore, in the context of sustainable strategies, companies should balance their economic progress by considering the continuity of lives in nature and welfare in society.
Companies’ financial performance development is based on the development of customer loyalty, which necessitates customer strategies (Cravens & Guilding, 1999). Perhaps the most famous one is customer relationship management (CRM), which involves customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention, as well as enhancing relationships with customers (Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler, 2009). CRM is not only a technology but also a business process management strategy intended to maximize relationships (Goldenberg, 2000). Relationship management requires managing customer knowledge (Gebert, Geib, Kolbe, & Brenner, 2003). The principles behind CRM are not unfamiliar; companies have already been practicing these principles for a long time, even if they did not call it CRM. What is new is that whereas companies implemented one-to-one relationships with few customers in the past, today they can do so with many more customers (Sheth & Parvatiyar, 1995). The evolution of technology continues at a great pace, and the next step is said to be the Internet of Things. This approach has been discussed in terms of its ability to change the way we manage customer relationships (Merrifield, 2015). Therefore, in economic terms, sustained competitive advantage can be achieved with no doubt by using information system resources (Dao, Langella, & Carbo, 2011).
In marketing management, individuals in any society are traditionally segmented regarding their social and cultural stratifications, which mostly determine their purchasing habits. In today’s highly digitized world, it is easier than in the past to design customer management using digital methods and the skills of commanding big data, which provide simple ways to signify and categorize people in segments based on their purchasing habits as well as consuming practices and preferences. Nowadays, the size of data is huge (referring to the volume), data are produced quickly (velocity), and data take different forms from various sources (variety; Chen & Zhang, 2014). These three Vs (volume, velocity, and variety) characterize “Big Data” (Laney, 2001). The Big Data approach seeks to reveal intelligence from data and transform it into business advantage (McAfee, Brynjolfsson, Davenport, Patil, & Barton, 2012). In other terms, business intelligence refers to extending the data sources, using tools to analyze them, and producing knowledge (Laudon & Laudon, 2018). Therefore, in the customer context, companies may find new ways to capture customer data, store them in data warehouses, and analyze them with strong analytical tools in order to strengthen the relationship with customers and ensure competitive advantages. Thus, companies should be able to pursue customer steps and determine and act on different touchpoints through alternative communications and distribution channels (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2016).
Shorter life cycles of products and services have made them commoditized. Therefore, brand differentiation and customer preference have shifted from the offerings themselves to the institutions that create experiences associated with their acquisition, use, and maintenance (Dirsehan, 2019). Thus, revenue does not only depend on sales of existing goods and services, but also on creating experiences for which customers are willing to pay (Gilmore & Pine, 2002). Experiences can be conceptualized as “events that engage individuals in a personal way” (Pine, Pine, & Gilmore, 1999, p. 12) or as “enjoyable, engaging, memorable encounters for those consuming these events” (Oh, Fiore, & Jeoung, 2007, p. 120). Therefore, creating strong customer experiences is a leading objective for management (Lemon & Verhoef, 2016) to create competitive advantage (Edelman & Singer, 2015). Innovation is an effective way to provide experiences that excite the customer (Bowonder et al., 2010). As customers interact with companies through a countless number of channels, an integration of multiple businesses functions including information technologies is needed in creating and delivering positive customer experiences (Lemon & Verhoef, 2016). For this purpose, customer journeys should be analyzed to depict the touchpoints where customers may interact with the companies (Rosenbaum, Otalora, & Ramírez, 2017). Throughout the journeys, as data sources, customer data may take the form of messages, updates, images posted on social media, readings from sensors, and GPS signals from cell phones (McAfee et al., 2012). Then, these data may be analyzed through analytical platforms such as online analytical processing and data mining. Then, possible extraction of information from data mining may include associations, sequences, classifications, and forecasts (Laudon & Laudon, 2018). Based on these analyses, new technologies can be developed and offered to develop customer experiences from various integrated channels as an omnichannel strategy. This strategy aims to provide consumers with a “holistic” shopping experience (Payne, Peltier, & Barger, 2017).
To take a holistic experience approach, analysis of the transformation of societies is crucial. Sociocultural changes mostly involve different generations’ strategies of adapting to the new rhythm of new technological advancements. New lifestyles engaged with smart facilities require a deep sociocultural analysis, which can give many cues to brands’ marketing strategies, especially with respect to customer experience management.
It is important to note that omnichannel strategies involve a mediator position between customer and brand. They suggest many good effects in the whole process of customer experience, which calls for equilibrium of the control all along the purchasing and consuming process through omnichannel strategies. Having a mediator between customer and brand also results in a positive improvement in the marketing and customer management. However, even in multichannel marketing strategies, brand centering makes customers passive in the customer journey because the channels are determined by the brands. This is the main issue that has been subject to highly powerful critiques on consumer society in sociological thought. Critical theory has a deep tradition in consumer society, which has its bases in Marxist critiques on the capitalist mode of production and the relations of production. Consumption, which is in the focus of marketing, is considered the cyclic complement of the capitalist mode of production in capitalist society. It is also considered the main motor of the resolution for the crisis of capitalism, and marketing has been a building block to find solutions for sustaining consumption. In this frame, the main interests of marketing, the customers and consumers, have been critically defined as consumer society in critical sociological theory (Baudrillard, 1998). Therefore, marketing and customer management have been targeted by critics as manipulating customers/consumers by markets and brands. The consumption process is evaluated as it includes creation of needs, which is commanded first by the natural propensity to happiness, deeply based on naive anthropological discourses (Ritzer, 1992). These critiques include the abuse of people’s basic feelings and leading them to consume massively; thus, this massive consumption is depicted as the absolute support for massive production, and therefore for capitalist society. These critiques were followed by McDonaldization theory, which evaluated that the high rationalization and manipulation were supported by the standardization of all dimensions of production and consumption phases. Highly standardized productions and marketing strategies have been criticized as erasing the identities of individuals, defining all of them in the same segments, and blinding the customers’ special needs, feelings, and expectations. Brands have been seen simply to cover all basic needs of customers with standardized products, manipulating all the dimensions of the customer journey. This standardization puts the brand in the center and makes the customers passive receivers in the purchasing phases. The weakest aspect of marketing, according to criticisms, is putting the customer in a passive position during purchase and consumption.
Network society discourse has germinated many other critiques about the transformations of the new global world in motion. The main critiques that have been developed refer to digitization of all aspects of daily life and social order in the new technological and information age (Ritzer, 2018). However, the turning point of marketing and customer experience management is related to the transformations of society by all these new technological advancements. Individuals in a fast-moving world need more power and command in the process of consumption. Also, they no longer have passion for brands that behave as the commander to the customers; instead of the experience of being manipulated by brands and feeling their emphases, individuals need to individualize the brands in their own ways without being standardized. As the main commanders of their life with the help of smart technology, they need to have the satisfaction of the feeling of taking the harness in their hands and have more interaction with not only brands but also their own social milieu through social media.
In this network society, people who are mostly categorized and admitted as part of the mainstream culture need an experience that makes them feel unique and active in all phases of the customer journey. Omnichannel strategies suggest grabbing the rhythm of the motions in the world’s sociocultural aura. Through omnichannel strategies, it is easy to come to the end of a tradition of determining strategies to put customers in the same or different bowls and manipulate them by the limited channels in marketing. Omnichannel strategies can lead us to develop a new style of customer experience management and enable brands to improve the purchasing process on behalf of customers. This frees customers from both psychological and physical burdens in the purchasing process. For instance, it clears the fault of making customers lose time to pay; it also eliminates the condition of being limited and forced to use the access channel determined by brand-centered marketing strategies.
Technological transformations cover all dimensions of people’s daily life practices, from the moment of waking up in the morning to closing their eyes in bed at night; even during sleep, people can choose to use smart technologies for their individual needs...

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