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Five basic steps to a multichannel customer strategy

Tracking and serving customers across multiple channels can be one of the most difficult aspects of CRM. Here are some fundamental principles to keep in mind.

Never let the customer tell you the same thing twice

That's the mantra of multichannel integration. The entire enterprise should be so focused around customer data that if a customer buys a computer online on in the morning and has a question about it that afternoon, the contact center should have all data available. And if that customer has a problem that needs in-store attention, the data should be accessible there as well.

Customer identification is a must across channels

This is the foundation of multichannel integration. Customers must be identified and maintained on a common platform of data for all interactions. This information allows the company to learn incrementally about the customer across all touch points.

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See how one online retailer is using multichannel service agents

 

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Ask the right questions at the right time

Effective multichannel synchronization is a complex process. Many organizations fail here because they lack the right information to make decisions on prioritization and implementation. In fact, in a recent report AMR Research claims that adoption of more efficient inventory controls has been slowed by bad data. Questions that companies might want to ask include: What multichannel customer experience satisfies the needs, wants, and desires of our target customers? Is it the Internet experience? Is it personal contact with a sales rep? Is it more ordering capacity through the contact center? How do we create momentum across the organization to drive a customer-centric focus? What business processes must be different for different channels?

All channels are not created equal

Consider the unique characteristics of each channel and how each influences the customer. Retail stores are at the forefront of channel prioritization. For many companies, the in-store channel reflects many key attributes of the brand. But, according to DoubleClick, channels are shifting. Catalog order sizes have dropped. Online orders have gone from 10 % of total average retail revenue in 2000 to 32% last year. That's a positive development, if the retailer has the proper strategy for the proper channel. Cross-channel shoppers (across all product categories) purchase products 48% more frequently than single-channel shoppers, according to a Forrester Research study, and 65% of all the shoppers it surveyed researched a product online then purchased it offline.

Integrate store systems

Since the advent of the point of sale (POS) system and the integrated store system, sales transaction support is only one function of retail systems technology. These systems support sales transactions, inventory management transactions, and customer management. These functions may include profiling, cross-selling, and special ordering. With the advent of online purchasing, one challenge for many companies has been to integrate the Web with the stores and POS systems. Each touch point should have a common understanding of the organization's customer experience management strategy and access to a common base of knowledge. The goal is for all touch points to interact in an integrated and positive way throughout the customer life cycle.

Copyright © 2005 Carlson Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Peppers & Rogers Group is a Carlson Marketing Group Company. 

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