Expert Speak

Optimizing Channel Strategies Is Way To Grow

Way To Grow

—Hitesh Shah

New Delhi, August 21: There has been a dramatic shift in the way we interact and communicate. Today in an ‘everyone to everyone’ economy not only are individuals communicating and engaging differently amongst themselves, but their engagement and touch points with businesses and brands have transformed radically. Gone are the days when a customer could only communicate with businesses through traditional channels such as mail, the phone, or in person. The conversations around brands and customers are happening in greater numbers across an increasing number of new age media as we commonly know them.

In an increasing competitive business environment, wherein the customer experience has to be defined from the time a consumer even thinks of you, a differentiated 360 experience, superior service delivery creating unique opportunities that align to the ever changing customers’ needs and experiences is a given. It is imperative for brands to harness and leverage the power of multichannel strategy in this information rich age.

Customers today expect to be treated as multichannel buyers, who are empowered to use the web to research information about products, to be able to buy and negotiate returns through any number of outlets. The typical journey today perhaps starts with them examining products more than once, through multiple channels. For instance, they will research online, view it in store, peruse a catalogue at home, access a mobile application, and then go online to do further research, to check reviews, peer comments and experiences, before making their final purchase decisions.

Hence brands have the unique opportunity to take advantage and harness the power that channel proliferation offers. Handled appropriately, these channels can improve the efficiency, greatly increase customer satisfaction, and generate new sales opportunities. The importance of customer service and support for a business’s bottom line has only been increasing over the past decade as markets go global and digital.

According to a survey by Forrester Research, 91 percent of decision-makers said elevating their customers’ experience was a mission-critical goal and 68 percent planned to increase their spending in that area. A research by the Aberdeen Group states that a multichannel customer care strategy can achieve more than twice (9.7% vs 3.9%) year-on-year improvement in customer satisfaction, as compared to their peers using a single channel.

A multi-channel marketing strategy can allow brands to directly influence potential customers at optimal points in their buying process, from initial introduction to ultimate purchase. Establishing multiple customer support channels must be accompanied by a strategy to maintain and integrate them. The important thing is to not only allow customers to move across channels; but keeping the channels tightly connected so that data flows easily between them.

Some of the key areas of focus to drive optimise a channel strategy are as follows:

Enhance the online customer experience and journey– Brands today must learn from the customers and focus on their experience and needs. It’s vital to ensure that the customers have a consistent brand experience and be able to recognise and differentiate the brand from its competitors. We need to ensure that after sales experience needs to be optimum and similarly how self-help could be one of the many facets of service experience

Prepare to go mobile- According to an Ericsson report, by 2016, 61 per cent of web traffic will be driven by mobile. Thus it becomes essential for companies have the best and most consistent mobile innovations for their customers. The mobile strategy of every brand must be leveraged to the fullest and optimised keeping in mind the specific target audience. A new trend we are seeing is that having a mobile app to log in your complaint on service and service levels would ensure resolution with delight

Develop your operations and logistics systems- It is important to have solid logistics to strengthen the operations. Returns or cancellation policies should be built efficiently while ensuring customer satisfaction and providing ROI.

Make sure your digital sales and marketing plan is effective– Build a successful multichannel sales and marketing strategy. Ensure your email strategy drives sales and that you measure the ROI on email campaigns.

Proliferation of channels is leading to a sensational shift in interaction paradigm both for the organizations and the customers. Organizations need to stay ahead of the changing interaction ecosystem and should therefore deploy predictive techniques and data science across customer analytics, product/service offerings across the channels and corroborate with individual satisfaction level for a personalized interaction and on a preferred channel of choice.

With “Quick” and “Convenient” as the new mantra for success, global brands are evenly poised to enable innovative techniques and technologies for making each customer interaction a “Wow!” experience that importance of optimising channel strategies and synching them together is definitely a need of the hour.

(The author is an Director, Channel Sales, BlackBerry India. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of Channel Times or any of the websites managed or operated by Trivone Digital Services)

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