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A recent feature in the Huffington Post claimed that omni-channel engagement with customers is now driving the future of marketing; brands that are making the most of omni-channel have a retention rate, on average, of 89%. Brands with weak omni-channel engagement have an average rate of 33%. The article also cites a few different marketing platforms that are attempting to work across the online and in-store environment, including one that combines an online catalogue with social influencer engagement.
It’s an interesting perspective on the changes that many companies are being forced to make, but I think that in studying individual platforms and software this article misses the wood for the trees. Unfortunately, there are many commentators in the industry who are guilty of suggesting that getting omni-channel right is as simple as buying the right software.
Many companies will need to fundamentally change in the next few years. Why? Because the way that customers interact with brands is changing dramatically and tearing up the notion that there are clearly siloed functions such as public relations, advertising, marketing, sales, and customer service.
Your company has existing customers, prospective customers, and people who are interested in the brand, but unlikely to ever be customers. All of these people interact with your brand in various ways and at different stages in the customer journey. It is this awareness of how the customer journey has changed that is key to understanding how all your customer-facing teams can work together as one.
In an old-style journey the steps were clear. You used advertising or marketing techniques to create awareness of your brand. The sales team would close a sale. The customer service team would pick up any post-sale enquiries. And the journey from awareness to purchase was linear and simple.
This no longer applies. Customers today are also publishers. They write reviews, they publish on social networks, they blog. Customers seek out information from other customers and from knowledgeable influencers. Customers might ask you a question before, during or after a sale takes place. The progression from awareness to purchase has entirely changed, so all of the teams that managed those customer interactions need to blend into one.
It’s not just marketing that will change, it is every part of your business that interfaces in any way with the customer. They all need to be aligned, and possibly blended into a single hub that manages the customer relationship. This is the reality of managing omni-channel delivery. The demands of the modern customer may require your business to reshape and redefine itself.
How is omni-channel engagement changing your business? Comment below or get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know.