Multichannel communication is an objective that all companies must pursue over the short and medium term in order to be competitive and, above all, to live up to the expectations and needs of customers.
After all, multichannel is not a feature that is limited to communication. It is actually a way of imagining and building the business and services, which also reflects on the relationship to establish with your customers, present or future. However, before we look at what multichannel communication means and how to achieve it in practice, let’s take a step back to understand the context where we are operating today.
How communication is changing: the characteristics of a strategic lever
In a previous post we saw how customer communication is evolving according to certain trends, all of which aim to put the customer at the center of companies’ marketing strategies, for businesses of all types. To support this transformation, we can identify some specific characteristics that corporate communication must have to be effective.
First of all, the first trend on which the new communication with customers is based is mobile: mobile devices, in fact, are increasingly used by people both as a pastime and as tools to perform a wide range of actions (purchasing goods or services, seeking information, asking for advice, etc.). This means that when a company decides to communicate with its customers, it must do so knowing that the message will be viewed using a tool that, however, follows people everywhere (with all that it implies in terms of timing).
The second characteristic is that communications must be engaging, that is, it must be able to capture the attention of the user in an effective and prolonged manner. This is not at all easy if you consider the number of messages each user is subjected to every day. As a result, every company must find creative and original ways to approach the customer, perhaps by capturing his or her curiosity.
In this sense, it is possible to intervene on the content or on the message vehicle. Here, creating personalized communications: addressed directly to the customer (current or potential) at the most appropriate time, and taking into account his specific needs and tastes.
Finally, the third characteristic of this new customer communication is being “consumer-centric”, i.e. focused on the customer as a person and not on the characteristics or functionalities of the product or service that you are promoting. To do this, you obviously need to know your customers well and intercept their main day-to-day habits, especially those related to how they interact with the company.
The importance of the customer experience
In this sense, the customer experience becomes central to the business itself: not just in the purchase, but on the entire path that leads to the purchase itself.
On the other hand, customers are no longer just looking for a functional product. Today’s customer has a wide variety of choices, most of which are capable of effectively satisfying the same needs. What makes the difference, instead, is how consumers arrive at the purchase, in other words, the customer experience that each brand is able to offer.
Above all, people are looking for a memorable experience, one that does not revolve solely around the product, but rather around the customers themselves. An experience that can interest and involve them, so that the time spent interacting with the company feels useful and relevant. Among other things, from the point of view of business development and market competitiveness, companies should invest in the development of the customer experience, since it allows them to create a solid and stable relationship with consumers.
An effective and well-constructed customer experience guarantees a very high level of customer loyalty, reducing the costs of retention (and at the same time the number of consumers who migrate to competing brands) and improving sales performance. After all, it’s well known that a loyal customer tends to buy more often than an occasional customer or, in general, tends to spend more than anyone else.
This means that developing a high-quality customer experience pays off, at all levels.
A composite customer experience
However, as always, if things are simple in theory, they may not be so in practice.
Although more than 80% of companies say they want to be leaders in developing and delivering a great customer experience, only 1 in 5 consumers are truly satisfied with their experience. This is because the customer experience is a composite “object” made up of different elements that must work perfectly together, such as customer care, customer assistance, and especially communication.
What these activities have in common is the fact that they are aspects of the business where there is a direct relationship between the company and the consumer, who is the center of attention of these services.
On the other hand, the only difference is that customer care is “responsive,” so it’s the customer who contacts the company to ask for something. Instead, in communication – which is, in any case, a central part of the customer experience offered – the path is reversed, since it is the company who wants to get in touch with the consumer and this opens up a key issue: how can a company effectively approach customers?
There is no longer just one channel: multichannel communication
There is no single way to answer this question, that’s why the best way to communicate is to build a multichannel ecosystem.
We’ve seen it in the trends outlined above– the ever-increasing use of mobile devices, the need to have personalized communications that adapt to their way of navigating and moving in general. Using communications that can be deployed across multiple touch points is a way to address these expectations.
But what is multichannel communication?
Multichannel is the term used to indicate the use of different contact points, channels, or tools (online and/or offline) to interact with consumers.
All of these channels are activated by the company in parallel with the same or different timing, depending on the company’s strategy and the type of customer to be reached. Don’t confuse multichannel with omnichannel, since multichannel does not necessarily involve an interconnection between the different touch points available. On the contrary, the different channels are managed and optimized independently of each other.
In this way, the consumer lives “different experiences” when interacting with different channels and depending on the touch point that he decides to “activate” (the website, the point of sale, the smartphone app, etc.).
Instead, the omnichannel strategy provides for the simultaneous activation of multiple channels and their seamless integration, so that each customer can start their experience from one channel, continue it through a different one and, finally, conclude it using a third channel, without unnecessary repetition and overlapping.
A multichannel strategy for a “multichannel” customer
As we have said, the multichannel approach is not the only option, but it is certainly one of the most effective because it is in line with the expectation of consumers, who have become increasingly “multichannel.”
According to the 2020 data from the Multichannel Observatory, Italians are increasingly inclined to use the network and digital tools when they decide to buy a product or a service or in the phase immediately before purchasing to conduct research on what they want to buy.
In this sense, consider that there are more than 46 million, or 88% of the Italian population over 14 years old, who are multichannel consumers. And this number, by the way, has also grown by 2.6 million or 6%, compared to 2019.
This is why it is not surprising to see that multichannel is the new digital normal, characterized by hybrid purchasing paths where the different contact points, whether online or offline, coexist perfectly within the same strategy.
There is no strategy without tools: the key role of CCM
Making your communication strategy multichannel is not as obvious as it may seem, however.
Multiplying the channels involves a considerable challenge for the company in terms of the management and use of necessary resources. That’s why it’s important to use all the possibilities that digital transformation makes available and to build an effective strategy based on those possibilities, according to your company’s specific needs.
That’s why it is essential for every company that wants to build an effective multichannel communication strategy to implement Customer Communications Management (CCM) solutions.
According to the most common definition, CCM is a strategy to improve the creation, delivery, archiving, and retrieval of outbound communications, including those for marketing, new product introductions, renewal notifications, correspondence and claims documentation, and invoice and payment notifications.
Essentially, having an in-house CCM system allows you to better coordinate all the various touch points without necessarily integrating them with each other.This is possible because, generally, adopting CCM solutions means implementing platforms within your business that improve many of the sending, collection, and notification processes.
Doxee has also moved in this direction, creating a series of Customer Communications Management platforms that are capable of integrating seamlessly with back-end systems and securely collecting data, so that communication can be better organized.
Customer Communications Management platforms as the basis for personalization
But Customer Communications Management systems are not only useful on an operational level, so to speak: one of the main benefits that CCM platforms offer is that they improve the customer experience.
As we’ve mentioned, consumers now use the internet and mobile devices for many things; in doing so, they leave behind long trails of information, which represent a significant resource for companies who are able to collect and use them properly. In this sense, a CCM platform is useful because it is able to collect all of this data and use it to centralize and standardize communication processes aimed at customers, adding an element of personalization.
For example, you can organize your mailings according to the type of audience you are targeting, based on the stage of the customer journey you want to monitor, while modifying both the timing and the actual content to be transmitted.
In this way, the benefit doubles: the user sees a communication delivered at the most appropriate time and with the most relevant content for him, and the company thus increases its efficiency and simultaneously makes its communication more effective and improves its relationship with customers.
There are other benefits as well, especially those related to personalization through CCM platforms, but for this, we refer you to our upcoming post. Stay tuned!.