Myth No. 3: Each Channel Should Have a Unique Customer Experience


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Thanks to technology and multiple points of presence, business just keeps getting more complex. Innovations in technology have brought new channels such as the call center, Internet, and now mobile channels in many industries. Many businesses, anxious to stay in the game, jump in with new channel offerings without an integrated view of the customer.

Granted, each channel has unique characteristics and can be used in different ways and for different purposes by the customer. Treating each channel experience as unique and independent, however, is a recipe for disaster. Each channel may indeed be different; the customer experience shouldn’t be.

Ever since the day that Ray Kroc began expanding the McDonald’s empire, he set the standard for consistency across each and every location. No matter where you are in the world, the McDonald’s experience is the same. Ray Kroc’s formula for consistency should be a blueprint for any business operating in a multi-channel environment today. Managing each channel as unique and different shouldn’t be. Here’s why:

  1. Customers are increasingly expecting multiple channel options. According to a Sterling Commerce Study, 80% of customers surveyed feel it is important to have a choice of shopping across multiple channels when choosing a retailer. Businesses with only a single channel option, or channels which are discrete and disconnected, will likely miss the boat.
  2. Customers expect the customer experience to be the same across channels. According to a survey conducted by Tealeaf, 85% of adults expect their online service levels to be the same as offline, an increase of 3% from the prior year. Providing inconsistency across channels will only contribute to customer frustration or confusion.
  3. Customers will likely switch channels. As the number of channels available to the customer continues to grow, so too does the challenge of providing seamless cross-channel integration. A customer experience that begins in one channel should transfer seamlessly and be continued in another without interruption. Lack of consistency across channels will only detract from the overall customer experience.

While each business channel has unique characteristics and can be used in different ways and for different purposes by the customer, each channel experience should not be designed or managed independently. Companies that are seeking to establish or improve their total customer experience should focus on cross-channel consistency and seamless channel handoffs regardless of the customer experience scenario. Simply put, maintaining discrete channels with separate customer experiences won’t cut it for today’s demanding customers.

Robert Howard
Robert G. Howard, Partner at Kurt Salmon, has more than 20 years of experience designing and implementing innovative customer experiences across web, retail, customer care, and mobile channels. Mr. Howard is the co-author of the The Customer Experience Fiasco, and 7 Steps to Customer Experience Domination.


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