If you’re still thinking ‘multi-channel’ then you’re not thinking.


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The recent Optus Future of Business report made both interesting and agonising reading. Whilst it’s always good to see the latest movements in the ‘what’s your favourite channel’ rankings, it’s painful to see how often the researchers miss the point.

What does this research tell us?
This Optus report and similar reports by Salesforce (at CeBIT) and Forrester paint a similar picture:
• Usage of ‘new’ channels is increasing (Chat, Social media, etc).
• However the speed of demise of traditional channels has been over-estimated. Customers are still using stores/branches and calling contact centres in huge volumes.
• Mobility, speed and ubiquitous access are almost a given.

But what does it miss?
What these reports are missing is, I think, much more important:

Usage is not declining in any channel! You would think that rising chat volumes would mean fewer calls. And more online visits would mean less physical ones. (And I know many organisations where this appears to be the case.) But – all three reports mentioned above clearly show that customers are simply making use of the newer channels to have more interactions. And this fits – we check status on our mobile device more often, we web-browse and call at the same time, we check comments and pricing on our phones whilst in a retail outlet. We are simply in touch, more ways, more of the time.

Customers are more important than channels. We obsess about the growth in one channel or the usage of another channel. Hardly surprising but this is not customer focussed – it’s channel focussed! Customers don’t care that much about channels anyway; they’re trying to reach some outcome and are just trying to find the easiest path to it. Can you think of any kind of business or personal relationship which you’d define primarily by the channels you use? (try it on your loved one!). And yet enterprises invest in 50 page reports that focus only on channel statistics.

Devices are more important than channels. Design a great experience and it will often be device dominated. The customer will interact on the device with an app, a website, a contact centre and possibly exchange information in store, but all via the same device. Thinking ‘channel’ at all in that context just holds back the opportunity. This video gives a taste of what I mean (An ‘oldie’ now since it’s about 18 months old, but still a ‘goodie’).

All channels are Digital. Contact centres carry voice by IP, use apps, self-service, and manage chat, email and social media interactions. Stores use apps, kiosks and other digitally-enabled experiences. Delivery teams track parcels and customers digitally. Everything is either already a digital channel, or is becoming digitally enabled. If we stop trying to keep channels silos alive, we can focus on end to end experiences much more effectively.(more here)

Conclusion – read the Optus report, but keep an eye on the wood as well as the trees.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Severn
Co Founder and Director of The Customer Experience Company. Expert in Customer strategy, and delivery of customer improvements in service, sales and marketing, and across online, call centres and retail channels.


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