The Multichannel Challenge: Integrating Customer Experiences for Profit

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Articles

  1. Boost Your Profits by Overcoming 5 Key Challenges of Multichannel Retail
  2. Multichannel challenges for modern marketers and how they can be overcome
  3. Discussion: A Multi-Channel Approach To Non-Profit Marketing Success
  4. Module content

Product life the typical and perfect customer experience across channels; cycles are now so short that soon after launch, a company is and how to sustain and improve the customer experience likely to find competitors or new entrants imitating any new within channel, across channel, and substitute an existing innovation Christopher et al. Rather than merely producing discreet products for a mass market, the company pursues ongoing relationships 6. The customer experience within channel with its most profitable customers. In a sense, the channels—the Internet and call centres.

Two specific ques- company becomes the trusted supplier for the customer. The result is increased levels of customer with those where you have experienced delays, poor inter- retention and profitability, and a potential decrease in active voice response IVR , multiple hand-offs, etc.? In other words, the structure and flow of registration process, experienced unreasonable requests for activity in the different channels through which the compa- information at registration, poor layout, broken linkages, ny and customer interact must be integrated so that the poor navigation structures, your computer locks up appar- channels, both individually and collectively, consistently ently due to the Web site , or unnecessarily long delays in deliver the value proposition in the eyes of the customer.

Given such poor results, companies need to the supplier. In contrast, failure to deliver on the amongst their key customer segments and how they can individualised relationship value proposition can leave the improve it. The concept of segmented service the customer to a competitor. In evaluating the customer strategy is important here. Where a customer interacts with multiple channels, Technology can make a major contribution to achieving which is increasingly the case, the customer experience an outstanding customer experience.

For example, within a needs to be considered cumulatively across all channel call centre, caller line identification CLI can identify the interactions. In communicating with the customer, a company is technologies can dramatically improve the customer expe- likely to use a combination of different channel options or rience, in this case, in the contact centre environment.

If the company is to be nologies has greatly enhanced the ability of companies to successful in forming a particular perception of itself in target and differentiate their products, customers, and the mind of the customer and in building a relationship with customer communications. Special search, analysis, and them on that foundation across channels, it must ensure tracking features also enable companies to monitor the consistency in the messages conveyed by these different effectiveness and efficiency of marketing activity, and thus means Storbacka, a,b.

Any incoherence or conflict in to maximise the return on marketing expenditure. Based on this information, the tive word of mouth. These educated projec- opportunities to leverage advantage. It is here that the tions can then be employed to help marketers evaluate planned marketing communications meet the reality of what alternative communications programmes and the probable the customer actually experiences when they interact with return on investment these might achieve. As a result, more the company. The danger is not just that the company will integrated channel management strategy.

These steps are lose a customer, but that it will effectively hand the now briefly described, drawing on the discussion above. For customer satisfaction, and increased sales, profits, and share example, a computer manufacturer selling to business of wallet. Ideally, this should be accompanied by a lower customers identified the following key elements: market- cost to serve, through alternate channels, lower in the value ing communications, prospecting and lead generation, chain, e. Each of these elements may include many touchpoints Specific strategic objectives should be developed by a or encounters.

The analysis of the needs, wants, and company to reflect the earlier CRM strategy development concerns can help in gaining insight into how customers and value-creation processes. For example, the broad experience relationships. To be able to develop the rela- objectives set for a new multichannel strategy by a leading tionship process, objectives based on customer needs can company for its major business clients included the be designed for each relationship stage.

This may require a benchmarking customers. This programme involved identifying the needs, exercise by understanding experiences of similar companies wants, and concerns of their customers across different or undertaking a pilot project to better quantify potential channels and using econometric modelling to prioritise targets. The objectives are likely to be further refined as a them.

For example, one chain of encounters across all channels from when a large UK industrial services firm developed specific objec- customer requests a collection to the time that payment is tives which included the following: improve total customer received for the consignment.

Boost Your Profits by Overcoming 5 Key Challenges of Multichannel Retail

In this firm, a total of 16 target measures were developed. Undertake a review of industry structure and channel options 7. Understand customer and channel touchpoints to leverage advantage This step involves a review of the channel alternatives currently being used by the company and those used by their The needs, wants, and concerns of customers should be a competitors as well as the potential for structural change by primary consideration in the design of marketing channels.

This task can be assisted with a tool tation that helps identify key needs and concerns at the called channel chain analysis that considers how a combi- segment level and an integration of customer touchpoints nation of channels are used at different stages of the across channels. Understanding and managing customer customer interaction with their supplier. McDonald and touchpoints or customer encounters represent an extremely Wilson apply channel chain analysis to the B2B important part of multichannel integration and CRM.

A direct sales model was introduced by compa- over the entire life cycle of the customer relationship nies, such as Dell Computers, in the mids. In more Vandermerwe, The stages of a customer relation- recent years, the Internet has been added to the channel mix. Understand shifts in channel usage patterns and the channel economics.

The economics of channels and the relative degree of use of alternative channels by different The consideration of possible channel options can be customer segments will have significantly different profit assisted by an understanding of how shifts will occur in outcomes. Understanding the different profit contributions channel usage patterns. For example, the Web and e-mail of customer segments and successfully exploiting this is a channels are growing at a much greater rate than traditional factor of superior channel management.


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Companies also have experienced signifi- gives rise to the following issues: how to achieve brand cantly different rates of usage of different channels and consistency in the formal communications programmes of these usage patterns need to be considered as part of this different channels; how to achieve consistency in the way analysis. The authors have worked with one European bank customers experience the company when they deal with its that identified greater product use in a new electronic various channels; how to ensure the communications and channel compared with existing channels.

Multichannel challenges for modern marketers and how they can be overcome

It is successfully services a customer receives through different channels are migrating customers to this channel, resulting in significant coordinated and coherent, tailored to their particular inter- increase in business. In addition, the relative nature of the total customer experience across different importance of different channels at different customer rela- channels needs to be carefully addressed. The concept of tionship life cycle stages for the product or proposition customer experience design is a relatively new concept. Usage of different channels by However, recent work on experience design and managing different customer segments may vary considerably and, if customer experiences have made a significant contribution this is the case, the potential adoption curves for key to our thinking in this area Gilmour, ; Storbacka, segments should be estimated.

Multichannel VS Omnichannel Customer Experience - What's The Difference?

The relative complexity of the interactions leading to the 7. Review channel economics sale and the costs of serving the channel in industrial markets also need to be fully considered. In some an illustration of this in a B2B sector. However, alternative channel tion of appropriate channel members, discussed earlier in structures and channel options have widely differing eco- the paper, can result in different industry structures that may nomics in terms of transaction costs, infrastructural costs, include business partners, value-added resellers, other and relative usage.

Each channel Transaction costs across different channels vary so mark- member should utilise the most appropriate range of channel edly that they are frequently the primary area of focus in alternatives. Not surpris- ingly, many businesses have rushed into the on-line channel because of its low transaction costs. However, while channel transaction costs are important, other aspects of channel economics must also be explored. Studies, such as that undertaken by McKinsey and Co. The choice of the appropriate multichannel strategy will depend upon the desired customer experience for the key target segments, the complexity of the channel interaction, Fig.

Channel alternatives based on cost and the complexity of sale. Each element of similar approach. Some compa- management is costly, it is necessary for complex tasks nies emphasise the benefits to themselves of a multichannel and important customer segments.

Discussion: A Multi-Channel Approach To Non-Profit Marketing Success

However, less complex approach as opposed to the benefits to their customers. Desk-based account manage- Companies have a highly interactive and customised manner, whilst tele- learned that their use of a blend of channels to service marketing may deal with more routine sales, service, and their customers seems to require constant explanation to queries.

The Internet and electronic channels provide the employees. Third, sales force behaviour needs to change. Sales staff, However, the development of this channel will be depen- in particular, need to be taken through the economic argu- dant on high-quality portals and customer education and ments as well as an explanation of any likely impact on their acceptance.

Fury, , are now driving considerable cost out of their Fourth, the technology required to support integration of account management structure by introducing new innova- the off-line and on-line channels can only be prescribed tions in this area. Unless there is a individual customers prefer to use for different tasks, sufficient incentive for staff to behave in a mutually sup- how they use them at present and how their usage in the portive way, the correct channel hand-off to make the future may change.

Module content

Finally, there needs to be clear reason behind why 8. Conclusion integrated channel management strategy is being adopted.

Challenge 1: Inventory Management and Transparency Across Multiple Channels

In many cases, this will be driven by strong competitive This paper has examined the role of multichannel inte- pressures and a need to create differentiation. Based on gration process in CRM and discussed how CRM unites well-known principles of change management, the creation relationship marketing and channel management with the of a sense of urgency will help combat the considerable objective of delivering profitable, long-term customer rela- resistance to change that may be encountered.

In this final section of the paper, we review some of the key managerial issues and challenges faced by 8. Future research enterprises in their adoption of an integrated multichannel approach and identify some promising areas for future There exists considerable scope for future research in this research.

We draw attention to several areas of worthwhile research.


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Managerial issues First, empirical work is needed into the adoption of new channels by enterprises in the context of their CRM strat- A comprehensive multichannel integration strategy that egies. How is the nature of channel usage changing over has the support of both staff and management is essential for time and what are the outcomes of shifts in channel usage any company that wishes to maintain a first-class level of amongst customers?

What are the sector-specific challenges customer experience within and across its range of channels. How do they identify and applicatons, call centres, and so forth. These customers are attract early adopters? Providing products and services in individuals, be they corporate customers or final consumers. What is the reaction of ing new channels suggests that a number of practical issues different customer segments to different channel options?