Channel Integration Strategies: Building the Ideal Customer Experience
- In most cases, the customer list is managed centrally, so customers see the same offers and messages no matter where they go.
- Database marketing analysis focuses on which offers work and which don't.
- The business opens the door for customers to interact wherever they wish, and doesn't actively steer customers toward any particular channel.
While these are the most common first steps, this approach is successful for companies with only direct relationships (communications can be directly controlled). Marketers using this approach must be sure to spread marketing communications equally—acknowledging channel differences. It can be a pitfall when the after-the-offer customer interactions vary across channels, disappointing customers in search of consistency and convenience.
2. Integrate the Organization. Business channels such as catalog, Web and retail are integrated by leveraging organizational expertise and resources. This is a common first step for businesses whose channels are organized in separate business units.
- Common product merchandising, transaction processing, service or other staff supports customers for more than one channel.
- Information about purchase behavior is shared, so marketing dollars are spent in each channel based on its ROI.
- Technology and operations infrastructure is shared.
Here, the company's driving priority is leverage of company resources. This type of channel integration affects customers positively when activities such as customer service or returns are shared and hurdles for customers to interact in any channel stay low. It's least successful when front-end customer activities such as marketing offers and pricing equity are ignored.
The Path Least Traveled ... So Far
A third way to integrate channels is not widely used, but could prove to be the most-effective approach:
3. Integrate the Customer Experience. Start from the customer activities discussed earlier: Learn, try, buy, get help and share ideas. This will provide you with a great definition of a "customer experience." Then acknowledge the following: