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It’s Almost 2015. Do You Know Where Your Customers Are?

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The leaves are falling, it’s getting colder and the Halloween decorations are everywhere. If you’re like many of us, it’s also the time of the year that we begin to panic and say “How is it almost November? What happened to summer?”

At home, we’re trying to catch up and carve the pumpkins; while at work, we’re in the throes of the annual planning process. We are neck-deep in budget spreadsheets and strategy decks, so it’s easy to get caught up in the daily fire drill for the latest and greatest forecasts and plans.

In my recent conversations with customer experience (CX) executives, I’ve noticed that they are indeed scrambling to get their list of projects together for 2015. But to what end? What is the long-term strategy for the program?

I’ve found that the most successful CX organizations start with a programmatic strategy rather than a project-based approach in their planning process. Part of this entails strong governance, cross-functional engagement, buy-in from all divisions within the organization, and clearly articulated baselines and goals. But this is daunting and doesn’t easily serve the “need to show results now” mandates that come from above.

So as a CX leader, there is one question you can ask yourself that may help: Does my annual plan call for enabling multichannel customer interactions or are we on a path to truly transform our organization for omnichannel customer engagement? There is a very real difference between multichannel and omnichannel strategies – these are not just buzzwords!

How do you know if you are on the path to executing just a multichannel plan or a more comprehensive omnichannel strategy? Review the chart below on both strategies and see where your company falls.

 

 

Multichannel

Omnichannel

Latin root

multus: “much, many”

omnis: “all, every, the whole, of every kind”

Business definition

The ability to deliver content and service through multiple channels, including phone, Web, mobile phone, tablets, and retail outlets.

The unification of a company’s multiple channels so that interactions reflect a common understanding of the consumer journey.

Focus

Internal to the company.

Capabilities-focused.

External, consumer-facing.

Brand-focused.

Consumer perspective

Having multiple channels available to execute a task.

Doing business with one company that understands their needs, no matter the channel or department.

Business objective

Reaching and interacting with the consumer through multiple modes and media.

Setting up “listening posts” to gather intelligence from each channel.

Consistent, personalized engagement across all interactions and through each employee and department.

Delivering a unified brand promise through all channels.

 

It’s almost 2015 – your customers are everywhere. They are viewing your website, checking their account on a smartphone, calling your 800 number, tweeting about your service, rating your app, and, yes, they are still going into your stores. If you are executing an omnichannel CX strategy, you are well prepared for the future. If not, there’s still time to refocus your efforts! But the time to start is now ... next year is right around the corner, and your customers won't wait for you to catch up. 

 

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