In recent years, we’ve seen a shift from multi-channel communications — sending messages and documents to customers by post, email or mobile — to a more intelligent blend of channels, known as omni-channel.
For example, a seamless omni-channel transaction could start with a customer visiting your website and be followed by an online chat, a confirmation email and a contract through the post.
What’s new in customer communications?
Today, the focus is on providing a more personal and relevant experience at every point on the customer journey.
To do so, we need a new customer-led communication strategy that’s influenced not only by the customer’s channel preference but also by customer data and journey mapping.
It’s about ‘optimising’ channel and content to ensure that customers get the right message at the right moment using the right delivery method.
We call it opti-channel.
Optimising customer communications
There’s not much point in sending a letter to tell a customer about a last-minute change of appointment if you can send them a text.
However, it’s not always so clear cut. The real challenge lies in developing a full understanding of your customers, their preferences and their customer journey — to ensure every communication is optimised.
In short, communications that deliver the best customer experience possible.
Putting customers at the centre
Striving for excellent customer service isn’t new… but there is growing evidence that today’s businesses are addressing their strategic challenges by becoming even more customer-centric than ever before.
Research we’ve just published backs this up.
- A rise in customer experience management (CXM) strategies
- An increase in a new type of senior executive — the Customer Experience Officer
- The creation of small, focused customer experience teams formed from breakaway resources
Customer experience management brings together different departments — typically marketing, operations and IT. However, the growing role of sales and service departments points to the importance of customer communications generally, and the potential of opti-channel in particular.
Opti-channel communications — step by step
Understand your customers: Listen to what they want. This can be a challenge, especially if you only have an email address or mobile number, but there are effective ways of using existing channels to capture customer preferences.
Consolidate customer data: Managing information can be difficult, particularly if you have multiple systems servicing the customer journey. Bringing this data together is an important first step to customising and personalising communications, and delivering enhanced customer experience.
Understand the customer journey: Consumers don’t think in channels — they use the channel that best fits the moment or the task. By using journey-mapping to identify these tasks and moments (including those that require careful attention), organisations have a better chance of optimising their communication strategy.
Develop a singular customer view: Customer journeys can be complex and involve different parts of an organisation (e.g. sales handle new acquisitions and customer service helps with on-boarding and on-going engagements). Our research shows that while many businesses are beginning to develop a more holistic view of their customers by merging departments via CXM, others still communicate with their customers using a less effective siloed approach.
Create the right CX environment: A good CXM strategy provides the right environment (culture, skills and leadership) to break down the silos and help achieve full end-to- end customer experience, strategy and vision.
Embrace technology: The most effective platforms will be those that integrate with today’s channels of choice and will be agile enough to handle the introduction of new technology or customer preferences in the future.
Opti-channel communications will be key to delivering better customer experience in the future. But they’ll only succeed when they form part of effective CXM strategies, and are supported by flexible and robust technology platforms that enable channels to be deployed dynamically and seamlessly.