Everything’s changing so rapidly in media, networking, social media and marketing, that if you’re still following the old, outdated rules of business, your company will simply be passed by or ignored.
This revolution has been explained by many including author, speaker and marketing strategist David Meerman Scott in his great book The New Rules of Marketing & PR and Mitch Joel’s new book Ctrl Alt Delete which I read over the Summer. Mitch’s book delves into the essential requirement that companies of all sizes need to completely re-think how they’re doing business, marketing and reaching out to current and potential customers as their future depends on it.
The Four Screen Society Becomes the Whenever Wherever Society
At one point, Mitch writes about the society that we live in today; the 4 screen society – TV, computer, mobile and tablet. I’ve always been fascinated by hyper connectivity, the always switched on consumer and how this has, and continues to change our everyday lives and the business landscape as we know it. And this 4 screen society is due to grow even more as we hear and learn more about the Internet of Things and wearable devices such as Google Glass and the Pebble Watch.
So the saying goes; your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. However, given the proliferation of hyper connectivity, companies can now be in that room now, 24/7. Yet it’s no longer just “in the room” given the increase in smartphone adoption and mobile usage. According to the 2012 Nielsen State of the Media Social Media Report, forty-six percent of social media users say they use their smartphone to access social media platforms. This increase in connectivity means consumers have more freedom to use social media wherever and whenever they want and so it’s become the wherever, whenever society in which mobility and location now play an important role.
Delivering a Seamless Experience
People coming from different screens though have different needs and experiences; for example someone sitting at home browsing via a tablet may behave differently than someone who is in a store with a mobile device searching for a product, price or looking at reviews.
As a professional marketer my point is that we can no longer just think about multichannel marketing as the new standard for customer communications, but omni-channel marketing where we deliver a seamless experience for customers. Omni-channel is more than a brand being available on a variety of touch points; it is about creating a multi-faceted, unified customer experience. Embraced initially by retailers, many other markets are beginning to adopt this new discipline. Just last week I encountered a problem accessing my bank account online, having contacted the call centre (who resolved the problem) I later received an SMS text message confirming this as well as a direct Twitter message given that I’d turned to the platform to vent my frustration.
So what I’m trying to say here is that it’s important to remember that your customers view your organisation as ONE, and not as different entities despite the fact that they may engage through different communication channels and via different devices. As well as your website, email, print, your customers also engage through call centres, SMS text messages, social media platforms, physical locations such as branches and stores, not forgetting face to face communication. All of these channels should be consistent to deliver a joined up experience.
So as many marketers begin to plan and budget for next year (although if we are talking real-time communications marketers really should think about what’s happening right now!) consider the following as part of your unified customer communications…
- Does your call centre, retail staff and website make the same offers to each customer as your direct marketing and email campaigns?
- With an increasing number of channels and real time communications, automation is essential to support personalised communication experiences with speed, agility and consistency
- Adopt a real time coordinated and orchestrated approach to multi-channel communication. Remember, customers often start a conversation using one channel and finish on another, and may even use other channels in between.
- Make full use of documents like statements, bills, and invoices to incorporate personalised messages specifically targeted to each customer
- Realise that the customer is always connected and can at times have a very loud voice.
So let me leave you with my two cents and the subtitle of Mitch Joel’s book; “you may still be grappling to adjust to this new way of marketing and communications but it’s time to reboot your business and adopt this unified seamless approach as your future depends on it.”