In the world of customer experience 2014 was the year of multi-channel. Companies worked to develop a presence across devices, platforms and networks. In addition to their traditional advertising and marketing channels companies expanded further into SMS, mobile web, mobile apps and a wide variety of social channels in an effort to be where their customers were. While companies did a great job increasing their presence, the services provided via each channel remain limited. This will be a liability for companies operating with a multi-channel perspective.
Companies operating with a multi-channel perspective dictate the types of services and information a customer can access via each channel. Customers can get product information from a website, access a limited storefront on a mobile app, participate in fun campaigns via twitter or Facebook and get support via a specific phone number or email address. While this is an efficient way for a company to organize, it creates a fragmented and disjointed customer experience that fails to meet the customer expectation.
Customers expect to be able to get access to all information and services via every channel. Companies need to be able to deliver a full range of services and information everywhere they have a presence. Customers should be able to shop, research and get support regardless of the channel. This requires a significant shift in perspective from channel centric to service centric. Instead of looking first at the channel then defining the services and information that will be provided on that channel companies need to look at the service then define what that service looks like on each channel. This results in every service have a presence on every channel in a way that takes advantage of the strength of that particular channel. (See Using Twitter as a Tech Support Channel).
There are three key requirements for delivering a great customer experience with every service across every channel:
1. Open and accessible IT architecture
Companies need the ability to aggregate data across owned and unowned sources and present that data to customers and front line staff in an actionable format on any device. You need an architecture that support marrying CRM data with Social data with POS data and delivering that information to the right person at exactly the right time. A well design architecture can enable this kind of agility while supporting scalability and extensibility.
2. Detailed understanding of the customer
Companies need to understand their products and services from the customer perspective. Tools like Customer Journey Maps (CJM) help companies understand how customers interact with their products and services and identify touchpoints that need improvement. Companies can also use the CJM to map data to touchpoints, identifying areas where their data or understanding is incomplete.
3. Ongoing assessment plan
Technology and people change too fast to set it and forget it. New channels open up and old channels grow stale every day. Companies need to establish a cross-discipline assessment team to assess the companies understanding of the customer journey and the channels in play at least once a quarter.
2015 is the year of deliver a great customer experience everywhere. Companies that succeed will enjoy greater loyalty and word of mouth.