All channels lead to a sale
It’s going to be a tough day at the office; you need a cup of coffee. Your favorite cafe is only a few blocks away, but it’s 8am and you know it will be absolutely packed. The last thing you want to do is join a line while you’re still half asleep. So, what do you do? Head to the office, cursing under your breath? No.
Not if the cafe is serious about customer service and has an app that lets you place an order which you then pick up as you stop by on your way in. You still need to drop by the brick and mortar shop, but why line up if you don’t have to?
While you may not think of an actual coffee shop or even a mobile application as “channels,” that is how they are referred to by marketers. You can get your coffee by going to the cafe or by using its app. Ideally, you can also visit its website, receive its emails and check out its social media - there, three more channels.
The idea is that you, the customer, ought to have several options when you want to make a purchase, and that you can pick the one(s) you prefer. If a business makes sure that you do, it uses multichannel marketing / communication.
Today, companies have a variety of channels for communicating with their customers. We have already mentioned a few above, and those are just the new, digital options. There is, of course, also print and phone, i.e., making actual phone calls. The thought of communicating through all these channels may feel overwhelming, and so it’s important to focus on the ones that you think fit your brand’s marketing strategy.
Despite the popularity of Instagram or Twitter, it’s perfectly possible that your customers do not use those platforms, or at least do not consider them their primary channels of communication. Do start on a smaller scale if you think that’s the best way. Regardless of the exact number of channels you use in your customer communications, a multichannel approach offers quite a few advantages.
The most obvious one is that you can reach your customers wherever they are. They all have their preferences: some prefer browsing websites, others enjoy checking the feed on their social media accounts, yet others like to speak to a real person over the phone.
Whichever it may be, make sure that they can use the channel of their choice - it improves the communication experience for both parties. A related benefit is that by knowing your customers’ favorite channels (as well as when they use them) you can personalize your communication with them.
It is easier to collect information if you target your audience on the channels they use, at the time they’re using them: that way, they are more likely to give you feedback by answering your survey, for example. Personalization is now an integral part of customer service and that is unlikely to change.
A multichannel approach also improves overall customer experience. In fact, we’re not exaggerating when we say that today, people value that more than they might appreciate a particular product or service, and communication plays a vital role in that. Imagine that you call a company and ask the customer service agent to resolve an inquiry.
They do, but due to some technical issue, what they normally manage within a minute takes them two minutes, prompting them to apologize profusely before they wish you a great day.
The next time you contact the company for support, a different agent deals with your inquiry without any delay, but they are unfriendly and condescending. Which of the two scenarios would make you feel more upset? Chances are it’s the second: most of us don’t mind putting up with a minor inconvenience, but none of us like to be disrespected.
If we take common courtesy for granted, however, the most important prerequisite of a great customer experience is that clients can decide for themselves when and how they can get in touch with your brand. Again, it all boils down to giving them channels. That way, you have the opportunity to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. And once you’ve built their loyalty, you can expect them to become your brand ambassadors.
Having multiple channels at your disposal doesn’t automatically mean being available everywhere, all the time. You need to make the most of the channels your customers prefer, but you should be open to other opportunities and look into the potential of those channels that you do not use yet but could start using in future without having to expend a great deal of effort.
While you may not immediately need a mobile app, you can gradually introduce digitalization by introducing customer self-service or sending confirmations to customers’ cell phones. However, the more channels you offer, the more coordination is necessary: uniform templates and text modules for all output channels, for example. This is where a customer communications management (CCM) platform comes into play.
It helps you establish genuine connections with your customers while improving customer experience, reducing operational costs, minimizing the risks that high volume communications entail and ensuring compliance with corporate and legal standards.
Request a live demo to find out how you can make the most of the channels your customers prefer.