We live in fast moving times. Never in the history of industry has business changed so much and so fast. The very nature of how customers communicate with each other has entirely changed in the past 5 years and brands need to keep up.
This breathless rush to remain at the zeitgeist often leads some commentators to make suggestions such as ‘the phone is dead’ – customers only want to use mobile and social communication channels.
It’s true that the change cannot be ignored, but sometimes it is worth observing what the customers really are doing rather than assuming that everyone will use the available.
So when I see analyses in publications that make various claims around how omni-channel is dead, customers only want mobile and social communication, I tend to treat the predictions with a pinch of salt.
If we drop the business jargon for a moment and consider what customers really do want when communication with brands then I’d summarise it as:
Flexibility: available anytime and with options that are convenient for the customer, like click and collect for a retailer or being able to return items delivered by post to a store.
Openness: being able to communicate in any way the customer asks, especially from mobile devices using social networks, but also including easier ways to access voice agents, like click and call from the website.
There are many definitions of omni-channel and there is some confusion because it can be used as a term for describing the supply chain or the communication channels used by a business, but in either case here it looks like omni-channel remains critical.
Some commentators don’t like the jargon that surrounds the world of customer experience. Thus, terms like omni-channel are assumed to be less important than the actions implied. Strip away the jargon and look at what customers really want from businesses today and I think you will see it is obvious that the omni-channel is going to remain really important for 2016.