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30 November 2012

I want it all, right here, right now: The cross-channel customer

In our world-of-any, customers want anything, anytime and especially anywhere. Since our amount of time willing to wait has reduced substantially, multitasking has become common property. In this hyper-fragmented world with numerous sales and communication channels, customers are well-informed and have much more control over the buying process than today’s marketer does. The cross-channel customer is born and is here to stay…

Cross channel customer

The solution is multi-channel management. It is the coordinated and consistent use of a variety of channels and media to guarantee a seamless customer experience across all touch points. This strategic necessity allows customers to get more often in contact with the possible offer whenever and wherever they want. The importance of cross-channeling is an indisputable fact: more conservative companies, like C&A, start an online component and webshops, like CoolBlue, experience the necessity of opening a store. In today’s trend of nowism, pop-up shops pop up like daisies.

If marketers are convinced of the integration of the bricks and the clicks and if cross-channel customers seem to be more profitable and loyal thanks to consistent messaging, why does multi-channeling stay a tough nut to crack?

The paradox of choice

Nowadays customers feel the urge of having a lot of choices. But according to psychologist Barry Schwartz, the increase of the number of possibilities makes them realize they cannot take the best decision and their satisfaction decreases gradually. A choice diminishes the appeal of opportunities they grasped and expands the charm of products they didn’t buy. Therefore, instead of investing in the first place in a larger product portfolio, marketers should better invest in a broader appropriate variety of channels. In that manner, they keep up with the trends of world-of-any and time is moneywithout contributing to the stress of choice that comes along with an explosion of products.

Don’t be channel-centric, be customer-centric

The expansion of channels doesn’t imply the creation of a cross-channeling vision just for having one. Marketers need to avoid the trap of a channel-centric approach, when focusing exclusively on channels instead of customers and thus suffering from channel myopia. They have to be vigilant of an integrated method. You cannot ignore the voice of the consumer who is more important than channels. Customer-centricity is the way to go: understanding the customer preferences and buying journey to implement an aligned multi-channel experience. Hence, you can select the most appropriate channels per segment.

How often are offline and online two separate departments? The unavoidable consequences are a lack of efficiency and giving different messages via different channels to the customer. Of course, you need specialists in certain channels, but working in silos paves the way for the failure of multi-channeling. Recruiting the right profiles and creating a customer-focused company culture are inevitable. Employees need to be trained to have a clear insight in the behavior of customers, which is a fundamental ingredient towards the success of cross-channel management.

Penny wise, pound foolish

Marketers are often overcareful about trivial things and reckless about important decisions. They reconsider small investments over and over again to such an extent that they miss opportunities on the long term. It’s not only about having the guts to invest, but mainly about realizing the right investment in the right channels based on the customer journey.

Companies sometimes create a simple website with a small amount of info just for the sake of having a digital component. In doing so they miss out on the opportunity of having a consistent multi-channeling approach and an important online salestool. Another example: Mobile marketing is trending. So marketers create quickly a cheap app. But does this app really deliver an added value if the integration with the other channels fails? Does ‘app’ stands for ’Approximate to the customer’ or simply for‘Appreciation of the customer’? What does it really tell you when people download your application?

Start thinking in conversations

Instead of launching just a print campaign or an online activity, you need to transform each channel into an active communication center with dynamic content, experiences and offers. Customers will start faster a conversation with your company than when you only release channel-centric campaigns. All the information gathered through these interactions, allows marketers to strengthen their cross-channeling approach.

 

Cross-fertilization, consistency and customer relevance across all touch points are key to guarantee a great brand and consumer experience.  Give multi-channeling the chance to first disturb your way of working and then ease your life. Let’s stop black-and-white thinking and join forces to enter the world-of-any, the world of the customer.

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