True Omnichannel Marketing – Part 2

In Part 1, I explored how and why to test for the right mix of channels.   In this entry, I explore coordination of channel activity

What should you coordinate?

Today more than ever, consumers have extremely high expectations regarding how they engage with businesses via the multitude of channels available.   The new engagement model both sets the bar high and includes higher risks and potential returns.   If vocal consumers sense a company “doesn’t get it”, for whatever reasons, they often spend extra time and energy letting others know about it (usually via social media and reviews), and conversely, if impressed they may spread the word.

Coordinating channel activity can simply mean doing a variety of things consistently across channels such as:

  • Offering and honoring the same prices and promotions across channels
  • Ensuring all of your staff across channels have access to all the consumer’s channel activity
  • Maintaining a consistent branding, style, and content delivery amongst channel actions
  • Always presenting various channel options at each touch point for ultimate convenience
  • Honoring consumer channel preferences

Why coordinate?

Answering this question strikes me as another case of common sense that makes great business sense, but isn’t necessarily that common.   How often have you been in a store and asked if they will honor the online price and received a strange and hesitant look?   Who hasn’t found situations where you have sent and email, or called a call center and transacted with a business, only to find there is apparently no record of this activity?

So the answer becomes rhetorical.   Who wouldn’t want consumers that are extremely satisfied because the business is ultra coordinated and consistent in everything they say and do, no matter the channel?   This experience invariably leads to positive word of mouth advertising, positive reviews, and positive publicity – resulting in more referrals, better loyalty, and more business.

How do your customers see your business?

Here is the key thought of this post and something that may help you soul search on whether the omnichannel experience you are delivering is indeed exceptional across a variety of consumer opinions:

Does each different customer who you deem as important to your future strategy experience your brand in a way that thrills them?

Invariably, this question entails a number of key areas for your marketing strategy. Namely ensuring you have a well defined audience & segment targeting and value assessment approach, and also taking steps to check, in a humbling, objective and outside in way, how you are coming across to your customers.

Consider these strategies to get objective feedback that can help you improve your cross channel consistency:

  • Read a sampling of reviews on different channels (e.g., website reviews, Facebook fan page).   Use a sampling strategy to ensure you are getting a good cross section of opinions. For example, if you have a 5 star approach, read a sample of reviews with ratings in each. Also, be sure to sample across time, so if you have reviews that span one year, sample some from each month or quarter.
  • Remember that there is inherently a bias in the sample coming from people who post reviews, so although it’s critical to consider these (since they are out there and thus perception is reality), also consider a strategy to survey others that may never post reviews. For example, consider a bounce back survey where the consumer responds with their feedback confidentially, and receives a small compensation for doing so (e.g., some loyalty points).
  • Research for views and publicity that may not be reaching your properties directly, but may have a significant positive or negative impact on how your brand is perceived. For instance, influencers in your market may be blogging, posting or tweeting about the experience they had with your brand, and considering that could be critical.
  • Angle for a way to also ferret out what (hopefully there is something) you are doing right. Why? Because otherwise you may inadvertently de-emphasize this thinking it wasn’t important, when it was yet no one bothered to tell you that.   Perhaps you are doing a fantastic job documenting your customer interactions in a timely and comprehensive fashion, still no one rewards you with stellar feedback on this.   Yet if you let this practice slip, you may well hear about it, after damage is done.

OK sounds smart – but this sounds hard also?

Maybe in large complex organizations getting much of this right isn’t easy, however often fairly simple practices and incentives work well.

An ordinary call center today has reps asking how they did, or offering a short survey when the call ends, but instead consider the following question, and what it implies:

“What is the single most important thing we (as a company) could do to improve?”

This question has many great aspects packed inside.   It gives the customer the latitude to consider their experiences and opinions not only for this interaction, but for any one in any channel at any time. It also isn’t limiting them to service or marketing interactions, as maybe they have an idea to improve your product.   Additionally, it forces prioritization, asking for advice on their most important concern.

Do I need applications, systems and technology for this?

The short answer is yes you do, and especially if you are a large enterprise.   However, yet again, these systems don’t always need to be extremely sophisticated.   Having simple call logs that are sharable may be all that is required, yet providing the right incentives to guarantee every representative keeps track of all interactions is the key.

Once more, if you are trying to track and analyze feedback, employing a system that can help sample and synthesize sentiment is certainly helpful, however doing this in a more manual fashion versus not doing it all is the wise choice.

Comments and alternative views are always welcomed.