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The Unified Omnichannel Enterprise Is No Longer a Pipe Dream
A company must connect all of its interaction channels so a customer can traverse them without losing any data.
For the rest of the July 2014 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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If you've been reading the business press lately, you've probably noticed a lot of headlines about the benefits of building a unified omnichannel enterprise. Admittedly CRM magazine has been guilty of this too. During the course of our coverage, I've received several emails about the topic, mostly from professionals who get the concept and want to know how to do it. This is what prompted this month's special feature package, "The Omnichannel Imperative."

Most companies already operate in multichannel environments, communicating with customers over separate interaction channels, such as the phone, Web, and email. A growing number of companies are operating in omnichannel environments, leveraging all traditional and emerging interaction channels, including social media and mobile devices. However, most organizations do not have a unified omnichannel environment. For a truly unified omnichannel environment to exist, a company must connect all of its interaction channels so a customer can traverse them without losing any data.

In this highly connected environment, customers would have access to the most updated company, product, and account information, regardless of the channel they're on. Customer touchpoints would operate in harmony. As Oscar Alban, principal and global market consultant at Verint Systems, said in the Webinar "How to Understand the True Voice of the Customer" (http://bit.ly/1tnFd5e), it would appear as if all of the company's communication channels were behaving as a single channel with multiple touchpoints. This unified channel environment would help organizations achieve the highly desirable goal of creating consistent customer experiences across all channels.

These are certainly perks for customers and prospects, but a unified omnichannel environment would also improve efficiencies across the enterprise. Think how much easier the job of contact center agents would be if they had access to all relevant data and insight from all channels right in front of them. For tips on how to create a unified omnichannel customer service environment, read our feature story "The 4 Key Customer Service Omnichannel Considerations," by Leonard Klie.

Field salespeople would also benefit from having access to company, product, and client information from their mobile device. "Tablets or smartphones accessed before, during, and after a call can be transformative for salespeople, allowing them to reach their customers in more personal ways and make their jobs easier in the process. Companies that support sales mobility see 23 percent more of their team meet their quotas," according to the feature story "4 Ways to Master Omnichannel Selling," by Sarah Sluis. Read this feature to help your salespeople start on their omnichannel path.

Because customers and prospects have grown accustomed to finding and sharing information on several channels, for marketers, the focus has shifted from channel marketing to context-based marketing."In the past, marketers have tried to create campaigns tailored for specific channels, but that kind of thinking drives outbound marketing, not rich, back-and-forth interactions." Read Maria Minsker's feature, "The Road to Omnichannel Marketing Success," to learn which vendors are facilitating this new approach to marketing.

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Creating unified omnichannel environments will be a hot topic at our Customer Service Experience (CustServExperience.com) and SpeechTEK (SpeechTEK.com) conferences (August 18–20) at the New York Marriott Marquis. These events will be colocated with our CRM Evolution conference (CRMevolution.com). If you’re attending CRM Evolution, consider upgrading to an All-Access pass so you can hear what the experts have to say about building a unified omnichannel strategy.

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