The Four Building Blocks of a Multichannel Customer Strategy

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LegosIt is clear that the old ways of doing business are obsolete. Higher out-of-pocket costs have motivated consumers to familiarize themselves with products and services online before making buying decisions. The Internet has evolved from a place where consumers read content to a place where knowledge is shared and valuable interactions take place. Consumers are more empowered now more than ever to drive competition.

To succeed in this new reality, companies need to develop a customer-based strategy that can increase relevance, reduce costs and drive revenues through multichannel communications, personalized experiences, individualized service, as well as through consumer engagement.

Here are four components of a multichannel customer strategy that are essential for any company looking to get closer to their customers:
  1. Create a 360-degree view of the consumer
  2. Analyze the customer experience
  3. Integrate interaction channels
  4. Develop a comprehensive and personalized care-management communication plan

1. Create a 360-Degree View of the Consumer

As technology improves, customer data play an important role in providing companies with valuable information that can help them coordinate real-time service and build loyal relationships for sustainable growth and profitability. A more complete view of customers’ preferences, account management and buying history helps companies gain valuable insights than can be leveraged for true competitive advantage.

2. Analyze the Customer Experience

Customer relationships separate companies from their competitors, but many companies aren’t taking advantage of the valuable data and insight living within their walls. Such data can be used for acquisition, retention and loyalty efforts.

For example, customer churn analysis, including data visualization or data mining, helps to identify behavior patterns and characteristics among customer groups. This analysis goes a long way to improving customer experience, but organizations that are unaccustomed to managing customer experience objectives should bear three key tactics in mind:

  • Design, build, implement, and manage superior customer experiences; bad word-of-mouth deters customers, while a good experience encourages loyalty, retention, and referrals.
  • Set expectations, deliver on those expectations, and collect feedback.
  • Technology alone is not the key differentiator. New processes and a shift in attitude among internal and service-provider staff are essential to creating a customer-centric culture.

3. Integrate Interaction Channels

Once the data has been analyzed, it's time to execute a multichannel plan, and your inbound channels must work together. Most companies think from the inside out. Consumers, however, see one company at every touchpoint. They expect information to be shared, and they expect employees (regardless of department or position) to answer their questions or resolve their issues. This requires an outside-in approach, which connects information and service. A seamless interaction strategy will improve efficiencies, eliminate redundancies, streamline information, and provide a better customer experience. All channels must be integrated, allowing for consistent treatment of customers across these channels. Employees should have access to the same knowledge base and customer information, allowing a smooth customer interaction.

4. Develop a Comprehensive and Personalized Care Management Communication Plan

Once the interaction and experience foundation is established, the last piece of the puzzle is a care management communications plan. Personalized and relevant communications build relationships, and new techniques automate many of these processes, saving cost and effort.

Consumers are different and prefer different channels. Understanding the type of message and the proper channel is imperative, and insurers must move away from siloed care-management systems to integrate with enterprise communication channels.

These four multichannel customer strategy components will help business leaders in every industry meet consumer expectations across all channels. It's not a strategy that will work overnight, nor will it be successful, unless implemented across an entire organization. But by changing their focus from internal process and efficiency to the external customer point-of-view, businesses will realize both short- and long-term benefits.