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Ideas for Leaders #261

Multichannel Strategies for Better Customer Experience

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Key Concept

The proliferation of devices and channels has brought new challenges to just about every organization in delivering consistently good customer experiences and effectively joining up service provision with marketing activity, data and content. A good multichannel strategy and execution is increasingly becoming essential to marketers and customer experience professionals from every sector.

Idea Summary

Businesses need to adopt a multichannel mindset when interacting with their customers, because customers use multiple channels and expect relevant, consistent experiences across all of them. This research seeks to identify the key issues, challenges and opportunities that surround multichannel delivery and provide some best practice insight and principles on the elements that are key to multichannel success.

The proliferation of devices and digital channels has added complexity to customer journeys, making the joining up of customer experience of key importance. It was clear from this research that it remains challenging for many organizations to maintain consistency across so many customer ‘touchpoints’. In addition, the ability to balance consistency whilst also fully exploiting the unique attributes of each channel remains an aspiration for many.

Whilst senior leaders seem to be bought-in to multichannel, the research suggested that this buy-in was not always replicated across the rest of the organization and did not always translate into a cohesive multichannel strategy.

A number of companies were undertaking work around customer journey mapping and customer segmentation, using a variety of passive and actively collected data in order to identify specific areas of poor customer experience and create action plans for improvement. Others were undertaking projects using sophisticated tracking and tagging technologies to develop an understanding of the value and role of specific channels and to provide better intelligence to the business on which to base future investment decisions.

A consistent barrier to improving customer experience is the ability to join up many different legacy systems and data in order to provide a single customer view that would form the basis for a more cohesive multichannel approach. Whilst there remain significant challenges around multichannel, there are also some useful technologies allowing businesses to develop better insight into customer motivation and activity.

Superior multichannel experiences can create significant competitive advantage for organizations but it is clear that, for most companies, delivery of seamless multichannel experience remains a work in progress for many.

Business Application

The research shows there is significant benefit for organizations in adopting a more sophisticated approach to multichannel, not least in securing more engaged and profitable customers. A successful approach involves a number of different facets around people, process and technology.

People

  • It is critical to not only secure senior leadership buy-in to multichannel strategies, but also to work towards developing the right organizational culture to ensure that a joined-up approach to delivering uniformly high-quality customer experience is a consistent theme throughout.
  • A top-down and bottom-up approach is one way to drive lasting change within organizational culture, whereby the intent and behaviour of senior staff is met by the day-to-day processes, practices and skills necessary for adopting new ways of working.
  • One consideration here is ensuring the right combination of vertical specialist channel skills, with more horizontal skillsets around marketing, technology and customer experience.

Process

  • Functionally ‘siloed’ organizations – where communication is not adequate between departments – need to establish processes to ensure a higher degree of collaborative working, with the customer need at the centre.
  • It is critical that metrics and measures are focused around business objectives, and aligned to customer experience.
  • Insight needs to be actionable, and focused on driving continuous improvement. ‘Test and learn’ approaches can be useful in developing a rapidly improved understanding of customer needs, and a more relevant and seamless multichannel experience for customers, particularly with emerging channels such as mobile and tablet.
  • Tools such as customer segmentation and customer journey mapping can be used effectively by businesses to identify improvements, prioritise investment and create competitive advantage.
  • Approaches need to be customer-centric, not just business-centric. Well-integrated approaches from a customer experience perspective can bring benefit in terms of effectiveness and to the business bottom line.

Technology

  • Use of more sophisticated tracking technologies, analytics and customer feedback tools can provide businesses with the customer insight they need to develop a better understanding of their own customers’ journeys and how they have changed, and inform smart decisions around the customer experience.
  • A single customer view – a full end-to-end picture and a real maturity in multichannel – can only be achieved through alignment of metrics, expertise in analysing such metrics and the effective joining up of data through CRM systems.
  • Whilst this remains an aspiration for many, others have already begun the process and are learning to improve efficiency and optimisation.
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Authors

Institutions

Source

Idea conceived

  • December 2012

Idea posted

  • November 2013

DOI number

10.13007/261

Subject

References

Multichannel in a Complex World. Moira Clark & Neil Perkin. The Henley Centre for Customer Management Research Report (2012). The full paper can be obtained via The Henley Centre for Customer Management

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