Multichannel – which channel do you choose?
The time when a client said „I have to go to the shops” is over. Because you don’t have to go to a shop, you can see and buy products on the internet without leaving your house. Or order them on the telephone. Or by using chat which is available on more and more websites. The availablity of products and services through more than one sales channel (mulitchannel) has taken over from traditional sales (single channel). But as time goes by it is becoming clear that multichannel is no longer enough.
The availability of services – those demanded by the client – can create problems for the supplier. The customer is not interested in how the company acheives this, the customer is only interested in getting a professional service. And this means it is necessary to invest in new channels to reach clients. There are also challenges in the flexibility of solutions and problem-free communication of information between different channels, about which part of the purchasing process the customer is at. And here, multichannel is no longer enough – this is the place when crosschannel is needed.
Crosschannel – together is better
When the client wants to find out more about a product, explore other possibilties and finally order it to be delivered, he uses almost all of the sales channels. He calls the telephone information line to ask technical questions. In virtual shops he checks if the product suits his needs. Finally he uses email to place the order. However, he expects that irregardless of the channel he uses to do the transaction, the company will ensure that he gets the same promotions, prices and service. Which is where sales service in several channels at the same time comes in (crosschannel), it is a natural evolution of multichannel service.
And yet, the possibility of using a wide range of channels is not a guarentee of success. The customer will not be happy with a service where, whilst making a complaint on a contact form on a website, he gets the answer „ for this topic please call telephone number…” Because what is the point for a client of being able to use several different contact channels, if the one that he has chosen doesn’t allow him to solve his problem, or if everytime he has to explain the situation again? Omnichannel must therefore take over from crosschannel.
Omnichannel – on=off
It ensures continuity, functionality and full personalisation through all available communication channels. Everything so that the so called touchpoint (contact with client) is satisfactory irregardless of the time, place or stage of the purchasing process. This is communication in the omnichannel way.
Nowadays, most customers have all the shops and world services in their pocket – thanks to smartphones and other mobile devices. It is a long time since the client had to leave his house to buy a product. He also has no need to go to other shops to compare prices of the service he requires. For him, the most important thing has become getting what he wants quickly and without problems, no matter which communication method and brand he chooses. Slowly therefore, the borders between on and offline services are being erased. And the channels are blending into each other..Now is the time for full integration.
Imagine the following situation: A customer whilst choosing a product in a shop, reaches for his telephone and asks on social media which product is the best. The race for the client will be won by the one who first „catches” the question, is the fastest to reach him with an appropriate (and competitive!) offer and who offers to supply the product in the way the customer prefers (for example collect in store) Here we can see what an important role touchpoint plays – the positive experience of contact with the company to a large extent influences the customer’s decision of whether or not to take up the offer.
Being a step ahead of the customer
By observing the markets we can see trends which show that the development of the omnichannel model is a good, if not the best way. Customers are more aware of the relationship between quality and price and often compare the two. They expect to have the widest possible choice, not only of products and services, but also of salesmen and women… whats more, they demand instant access and gratification for their decision.
We find ourselves in the epicentre of technological expansion and customers are taking advantage of this. They are taking control of when, where and how they undertake transactions. This means that the potential of internet sales is growing before our very eyes – in some branches it already accounts for about 20% of transactions and in some situations reaches even 50%. One out of every two people checks the online availabilty of a product before going to a shop. And up to 88% of consumers admit that they bought a product through a different channel than the one where they first saw it.
The development of communication channels has potential which companies can make the most of, to sell to clients and inspire their purchasing desires. In this way we can create a situation for touchpoint to occur. Lets go back to our example – why did the client decide to visit the shop? Because before this he visited our website, which he reached after receiving email information about a new product. Next the client went to the shop, chose a product from the shelf, reached for his telephone…and we know how the story ends, or…we don’t, because the ending depends on the customer, when, where and how he decides to contact us.
That is exactly why, it is not only important to have many different sales channels, but that these channels should be fully integrated, cohesive and available. So that the client feels like he is always the centre of attention – because nowadays it is not enough to meet his expectations. We need to be a step ahead of him.