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July 12, 2016

A Management Guide to Omni-Channel

Summary:

This new omni-channel process paradigm — while easy for start-ups — can be a material challenge for established companies.

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An omni-channel experience leverages customer behaviors across all relevant sales and distribution channels and provides the basis for a consistent, personalized transaction interaction. Where there is a multi-step transactional experience (completed over time), each relevant channel should recognize the customer’s current process point in the overall transaction fulfillment process, such that customers are able to progress along the transaction process in a transparent fashion. Also implied — but not often mentioned — is the need to gather predictive data so relevant customer-specific marketing initiatives are delivered digitally to the customer’s preferred device (or in hard copy form to their home).

The Rationale That Is Driving Omni-Channel Demand
From the time a customer logs on to his or her mobile or PC-based site, the customer should find a consistent presentation framework, with personalized offerings based on buying preferences, as well as new content that fits a customer’s purchase propensity profile. In addition, the selection and purchasing experience should be the same throughout a customer’s multi-channel purchasing and associated fulfillment process. With the growth demand for omni-channel distribution, this process paradigm is emerging as a differentiation that often helps a customer decide who to buy from.

See also: How to Captivate Customers (Part 4)

Omni-Channel Internal Readiness Assessment
Based on the broad context and scope required to fully enable omni-channel distribution, key assessment components include:
– A broad-based customer purchase and predictive data history that enables predictive and behavioral data modeling;
– The ability to standardize processes across all distribution channels;
– The capability to store customer transactions that are in-process;
– Specific process steps to be fulfilled when the customer reengages in one or many transaction based processes; and
– The ability to include bio-metric authentication.

Challenges
Legacy systems are the norm in most companies, and most have never been set up for this type of customer experience paradigm. Therefore, the magnitude of legacy system changes are often material. Additionally, most companies find they do not currently collect the breadth of data required and do not have the analytical capabilities required for predictive and behavioral data analytics.

To the extent the factors above require material software modification, the project delivery cost could be significant — and the delivery time-frame protracted. Regardless, due diligence requires project sizing, costing and delivery time-frame analysis. If the internal project assessment reflects material cost and long project duration, then a package software solution may be appropriate. Purpose-built software for omni-channel distribution often proves to be significantly less expensive and results in a materially reduced delivery timeline.

See also: Keen Insights on Customer Experience  

Summary
Omni-channel distribution is becoming a competitive necessity for many companieThus, primarily consumer interactive companies need to consider the impact of this new process paradigm, and prioritize omni-channel distribution accordingly to maintain their competitive standing.

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About the Author

Alan Royal has over 10 years of experience in Fortune 500 C-level IT leadership roles at top financial services and life insurance companies. He also has 6 years of experience as Associate Partner, Principal Consultant for 2 top global consulting firms.

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