Most companies today facilitate their customer interactions via a mix of different channels ranging from traditional channels such as point of sales, contact center, field sales and field service to the website, mobile apps and various social media networks. But most of the times they operate a multi-channel model, different channels next to each other, but not cross-channel model, different channels integrated and aligned with each other, or omni-channel model where you would find different channels being used at the same time within a single step of the customer journey, connected and interwoven (e.g. the use of a smart phone in a point of sales).
Few companies already offer an integrated cross-channel experience and a truly interwoven omni-channel experience is even further away, despite the fact that customers in today’s connected economy, including you and me, operate across channels: we hardly ever stay within the same channel in the various steps of our customer journey. The most common example of cross-channel behavior would be a customer journey in which the customer conducts research online, purchases in a point of sale and contacts the contact center when encountering a problem afterwards.
You would expect to find proof of the cross-channel reality in blogs, tweets, whitepapers, keynote speeches, presentations,… This Sunday morning I found proof… at the bakery.
I overheard Caroline thanking Eva, a young student who works at the bakery in the weekends, for having accepted her order the night before. Caroline had sent her a text message around 10pm on Saturday evening. Eva had confirmed her order shortly after and forwarded it to the bakery. On Sunday morning, Caroline came to the bakery to pick up her order (meeting and thanking Eva). The perfect example of an integrated cross-channel experience. Not only did Caroline use different channels during her customer journey (Mobile SMS & POS), the channels worked perfectly together delivering a great customer experience.
Admittedly, this is probably not an example of straight-through-processing, where the order that was placed via a text message automatically generated an order in the bakery’s CRM system, which in turn triggered a production order and set of the bakery’s invoicing chain. Nobody talked about fancy terms such as lead creation, lead distribution, lead passing techniques,… There were no sales channel dashboards being affected. And no, chances are that Eva’s boss doesn’t even know that she accepted an order on Saturday evening. But remember: customers do not care about efficiency (that is ‘how’ you manage your business), but care about effectiveness (that is ‘what’ you deliver). This does not mean that you should not care about efficiency. A great customer experience should be delivered in a cost efficient manner in order for it to be sustainable. But you would be surprised what a tremendous impact a bit of extra customer-centric effort could have on your customer experience. Let’s first meet our customers’ needs, and then worry about doing so in the most efficient way.
What do you think? Have you encountered proof of a cross-channel reality in daily life?