Obvious statement warning… The biggest thing that’s affecting marketers in the “always connected” era, is that customers are never more than a few seconds from another interaction with your organization. It used to be you could count on having a window of time when you needed to be available to customers – those were called “business hours”. Customers came into your storefront. They called you. The might even have mailed you an order form from a catalog. Clearly that started to change decades ago… and now with the web, smartphones, the ever expanding universe of social media – well, the number and variety of potential touchpoints with your customers is expanding at an accelerating pace.
So what’s a marketer to do about it? Well, the natural reaction of any being under threat is to get defensive. To hunker down. To focus on survival. And that’s what many marketers have done. It comes in the form of being very single-minded in the striving for excellence. “I’m responsible for this very specific interaction with my customer, and it will be an excellent experience”. They gather all the appropriate data, do all the necessary planning, design and execution work to make that particular interaction the best possible interaction it could be for the customer.
And while that is noble and is important work, it’s simply no longer sufficient. To be excellent in one silo, or even to be excellent individually in all silos of your customer interactions, is only reaching the midway point in the exercise. In fact, it might be better to be a little less excellent int each of those customers interactions individually, in order to strive for what’s missing – consistency and integration across the whole customer experience.
The thing about the cross-channel work, though, is that it’s hard. It takes a lot more effort. It takes coming out of your foxhole and working with peers and colleagues. It takes securing executive level commitment – because its only at the top that all those silos come together. It takes time. And while you can nail down the organizational design and the process implications with just good ‘ole elbow grease, making it all come together will typically require some level of new investment in technology. Enabling technology. Something that allows you to manage those customer interactions across your various channels. Enables your people to work together effectively. And is flexible enough to integrate with all the message delivery systems you’ve invested in to make each silo of communications work. Because, if you need to rip and replace, or if your technology is only relevant to one channel and can’t help you reach across the silos… well, you’re never going to achieve what customers want. That integrated consistent and ideal customer experience.