"Customers don't care which department, channel, or process they are in when interacting with a brand. Organisations now must deliver on the continuity of experience in a fragmented channel world or risk losing commerce and revenue."
This is the key advice of Dr Natalie Petouhoff and Ray Wang, principal analysts for Constellation Research, to companies competing in the digital age.
"The separate marketing, sales, service, and commerce silos of the old days no longer serve today's customer," they point out in the new Constellation Research report Continuity of Customer Experiences Drives the Future of Commerce.
"Customers expect 'choose your own adventure journeys' that deliver on continuity," they state. "This continuity spans channels, processes, experiences, personas and outcomes."
The customer journey must involve continuous interactivity and a two-way conversation with the brand at the right time, with continuity at its core. Petouhoff and Wang drew findings from Constellation Research's recent survey of 150 marketers, e-commerce, customer service and online professionals and companies whose revenue was between US$500 million to $2 billion a year. The respondents were from B2C, B2B and B2B2C companies in various industries in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Nearly every respondent said their e-commerce system did not meet their business needs, according to the report.
Customers, for instance, expect to start the buying process in one channel and complete the purchase in another channel of their choosing. Yet, only 29 per cent of the US and 22 per cent of the UK brands report it was extremely easy for customers to do this.
In an opt-in economy, where customers can quickly jump to another e-commerce site and purchase from another company, many organisations are in for a serious awakening, the authors note. They also point out many organisations failed their core mission when they created separate business units to address new channels. This left organisations with channel silos and process islands that customers have to navigate.
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They state companies that are able to provide this continuity for customers should also ensure they keep the information order correct and complete. Staff should also be trained to help customers when they transition from one device to another during the purchasing.
"The customer journey must involve continuous interactivity and a two-way conversation with the brand at the right time, with continuity at its core," they state.
In designing consumer engagement strategy, they recommend conducting a customer engagement mapping, such as "a day in the life of the customer".
"Make sure you are giving your customers what they need to be satisfied and tell others," they advise. "The trend is to research online, buy, use and then tell others."
"Consider all points in the customer journey: the offer, the store, the online store, mobile store, face-to-face and social networking 'stores'."
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