The challenges faced by multi-channel organisations NOW.

Organisations are trying to catch up with the market having finally realised that customer experience will be a major differentiator for them, and would be today, if they had invested in it 5 years ago. Most are attempting to establish a framework for delivering a consistent and differentiated multi-channel customer experience. Their biggest single challenge is that the consumer has already moved on and as a result the bar they are trying to reach has already been raised.

For sure there is a world of trouble getting from where they are now to even a catch-up situation. Most are organised wrongly so that silos exist and employees in one channel have little to do with the others. Even if they do, they are not rewarded in a way that encourages customer centric behaviour. People issues are always tough but can be overcome with senior management buy-in, better structure and appropriate rewards.

Equally systems issues exist with multiple views of customer data, inefficient supply chains and lack of employee access. At Foviance we regularly see organisations that have 20,000 employees and only 5% of them have systems access. To compound this most organisations have not recovered from the foiled multi-million dollar investment in CRM systems from organisations like Seibel (now Oracle), that have never delivered the value that was promised.

The reason organisations find themselves in this situation is the same reason they will most likely fail again. They did not look outwardly and plan for the way consumers would want to interact with them in the changing world. They were not, and are not ready for this changed world and with recession looming the next few years is likely to see most senior execs once again focusing internally. As Foviance and RXP‘s recent research illustrated, in the retail sector only organisations with a multi-channel history are performing well and this is not the majority. Even if organisations catch-up with their peers this will not be enough. Most will benchmark against their competitors and count themselves successful if they are on level terms. For the consumer this is not sufficient.

Consumers do not make allowances for different sectors and industries. Their expectations are set by the universe of experiences they have. The supply chain differences between white goods and fast moving consumables have no bearing on how well the experience should be delivered in their view. Organisations that win the multi-channel experience war will be those that reach the bar set by their consumers, not by their peers.

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