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The 6 steps to multi-channel customer experience success

The introduction of a multi-channel strategy may initially appear dauntingly complex as it potentially incorporates seven categories of channel: face-to-face, call centre, online, social media, mobile apps, correspondence and video.

But it is something that almost every consumer services organisation will need to address in the next 12 months.  The consumer desire to interact with suppliers across a range of channels is not going to abate and companies that cannot respond to this need for multi-channel convenience risk being left behind.

To avoid being overwhelmed by the challenge, organisations going down the multi-channel path will find it much easier if they spend time upfront working out their customer’s needs, expectations and requirements and the resources and capabilities the organisation has to develop such a strategy.  By documenting it all in an overarching strategy, organisations will find the path to multi-channel customer experience delivery becomes much clearer, and they will increase their ability to achieve, profitable as well as high customer engagement interactions

Step 1: The Strategy

Begin with an internal review of your organisation’s strategic imperatives.  This requires a look at your corporate strategic goals, brand essence and values, your service promise and charter, and current channel strategies.  This is also the time to establish revenue and cost imperatives, and identify the ROI required.

Because your strategy isn’t being designed to please only management and staff, you’ll need input from external sources.  Conduct customer research to see what your most important stakeholders think about current operations. Identify service needs and channel preferences.  Then take a step back and look at the broader environment. Analyse what your competitors are doing from a channel experience perspective and consider the impact of any regulatory frameworks on your business.

Step 2: Data Modeling & Big data analytics

Now it’s time to see what information you may already have in your existing customer data.  Model the how the combination of different channels for different products, customer segments, demographics effect customer experience, engagement, acquisition, retention and up-sell and cross-sell. Also start to consider the role Big Data analytics might play – assess the data for volume, variety, velocity, veracity, value and viscosity.  Use this to model and predict customer behaviour, estimate revenue and cost models, and to calculate the profitability of each channel.

Step 3: Customer Experience Design thinking

Establish the principles for your ideal customer experience and let these inform the design of the strategy.  Co-creation with customers is the key.  You’ll want the experience to be user-centred, so get customers and other stakeholders involved as you create the design.  Consider the probable sequence of requirements and try to design a holistic experience for your customers.  Tools such as stakeholder maps, personas, customer journey maps, cultural probes, storyboards, service prototypes and blueprints will be invaluable at this stage.

Step 4: Understand your operational capabilities

Having decided upon the ideal customer experience, you need to identify any operational changes that may be required to support your design. Look at current operational performance and capabilities, your analytical capability, technology and telephony platforms. Will the company culture and your HR practices support the expanded range of activity?  Does management fully understand what will be required and are they on board?  Identify the changes that will be required to make the new strategy work.

Step 5: Allow your Customer a Voice

Develop a multi-channel customer feedback system, or Voice of Customer program, that allows regular and real time feedback from customers. Use this to drive process improvement, employee behavior, product design and on-going strategy.

Step 5: Contingencies

Never introduce any business strategy without assessing whether there are other contingent strategies or programs of work that will impact your strategy.  Work out what you need to do if there are changing market conditions or internal circumstances.

Step 6:  Document everything in a customer experience strategy roadmap

Having worked your way through all the facets of the strategy, you now need to put it all down on paper.

At the end of this process you should find yourself the proud owner of an enterprise-wide Customer Experience Strategy complete with plans on:

  • multi-channel design
  • operations and process analytics and possibly big data
  • customer feedback management
  • technology and telecommunications
  • culture and HR
  • a well defined business case and
  • an implementation plan.

All you need to do now is carry it through.  At least you know where you are going and what you need to do to get there.

Rather than being a passive outcome of everyday business activity, the customer experience has become a strategy in its own right.  Channel design, customer feedback management and analytics are all essential parts of this strategy. Get it right and you’ll find your multi-channel strategy will quickly repay all the effort with profitable and happy customers.

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Catriona Wallace

Catriona Wallace

Dr Wallace is a Director of Fifth Quadrant, a customer experience strategy and research company. Within this role, she conducts global research and consulting programs and works with company boards and CEOs to develop multi-channel customer experience strategies in order to respond to shifting balance of power between consumers and businesses – the coming of the Consumer Power Economy. Today, Dr Wallace is one of the world’s most cited commentators on customer experience and consumer behaviour trends. She has a PhD in Organisational Behaviour, is Adjunct Faculty at the Australian Business School, and is the author of The Complete Guide to Call & Contact Centre Management. She is also the mother of five children and is the founder of philanthropic funds – Indigo Express Fund and Kids in Philanthropy, both sub-funds of Sydney Community Foundation. She also runs an employment program for women prisoners and also refugees recently released from detention.

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