Consider a future where not all channels are the same
As technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives, the lines between our experiences online and what we do in real life are increasingly blurred. I’ll bet you probably have many connected devices—laptop, mobile phone, tablet, watch, lightbulb (yes, lightbulb)—all within an arm’s reach right now.
By the time you finish reading this post, there will be more than 4,800 new devices connected to the internet. Ten years from now, the figure will mushroom to 152,000 a minute. That’s why researchers such as IDC estimate that there will be 80 billion devices connected by 2025.
What does this mean for your customers?
With so many ways customers can reach out to your brand, companies must have a fully integrated way to deliver excellent customer experiences. You’ve probably heard that all before, right? The term “omnichannel” has been a favorite buzzword for years now.
This shift from multi-channel to omnichannel has been called a profound change. And while all omnichannel experiences use multiple channels, not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel.
It is all about the depth of integration and how all of your channels work together to deliver a seamless experience to your customer right? Maybe. Perhaps a little recalibration is needed.
Are you relevant?
When your brand is doing well, it’s easy to fall into complacency. One of the biggest challenges is to stay top of mind with consumers as their interests and tastes evolve. In December 2017, Prophet released its 2017 Brand Relevance Index, ranking the top consumer brands. In its report, some of the top 10 brands from 2016 and 2015 were replaced by others, illustrating the difficulty of staying relevant.
Don’t forget during your journey to ubiquity to remain relevant by delivering a differentiated product or service that your customer can’t live without. Clearly, your customers are engaging in many channels, but an undifferentiated product isn’t going to help extend your reach.
Are all channels really created equal?
As your company invests in people and technology to create that cohesive integrated channel strategy, one critical consideration is that your customers are loyal to your brand, not a particular channel. Your customers care about experiences, about solutions, about ease and simplicity. They commonly use multiple sources to aid in the customer journey.Your customers are loyal to your brand, not a particular channel.
Given that, it’s important to understand the economics of each channel to your business. Building out and integrating multiple channels can be expensive. Rather than embracing all things omnichannel, start with having a deep understanding of your core customer segments. What are their priorities? How do they prefer to communicate with your company?
Now what?Accept the fact that your company’s omnichannel experience will not be evenly distributed.
While developing an omnichannel experience takes into account each platform and device (perhaps even the lightbulb) that your customers will use to interact with your brand, the critical factor in success will be how you leverage this knowledge. Each of these channels should inform your strategy—across sales, marketing, product and customer service—to deliver exceptional experiences to your customers.
Leaders need to think through these types of challenges in planning and honing their omnichannel strategy. The companies that already suffer from lack of customer connection, such as poor performance in key customer interaction channels, will struggle to win as the fragment customer communications by adding more channels and complexity. More channels doesn’t automatically mean a winning omnichannel strategy.
However, the companies that will remain relevant will offer strong value propositions and use integrated channels that make the most economic sense to the business to unify the customer experience better than the competition. When a customer perceives that they are connecting with a single brand across any channel, they’ll become stronger brand advocates.