Marketers struggle toward 'single customer view'
In general, today's marketers do recognise the importance of a good multichannel customer experience, but many companies are failing to adopt a strategy to enable a single customer view, according to research from Econsultancy and customer experience consultancy Foviance.
The 'Multichannel Customer Experience Report' found that only 22% of companies have a well-developed strategy for improving the customer experience, and that 9% have no strategy in place. A further 69% said they were just beginning to develop such a strategy.
These findings suggest a lag between theory and practice, as almost half of company respondents (49%) said that a joined-up multichannel customer experience is "very important" to their organisation, and a further 41% said it is "quite important". More than two thirds of companies (68%) recognise a strong link between long-term business performance and the customer experience.
The survey of over 500 companies and agencies also found that nine different online and offline touch points are relevant for at least half of the companies surveyed.
With these multiple data points in mind, respondents were asked how close their own organisations are to having a single view of the customer. Only 32% of companies said they already have the integrated systems and processes required to give customers a "joined-up" multi-channel experience.
According to Econsultancy's research director, Linus Gregoriadis, "It is clear that while the majority of companies understand the impact on business performance, very few yet have integrated, cross-channel processes and systems in place, or even a strategy to help them achieve this."
"The rise of social networks has put the power with customers and it has never been more important for organisations to create an environment where customers notice a positive difference," warned Foviance's CEO, Paul Blunden. "Customers are no longer prepared to accept that businesses are still learning, and view their multichannel interactions through a single lens, usually sharing their experiences widely and candidly."
An increasing number of online and offline customer touch points are making it even more difficult for organisations to ensure a consistent cross-channel customer experience based on a single customer view. But, while many companies are trying to integrate systems and adopt a customer-centric approach, most haven't yet reached the stage where they can harness those processes in a way that allows for seamless cross-channel engagement.
Finally, respondents were asked to indicate the most significant barriers which prevent them from improving the multichannel customer experience. The greatest barrier cited was "organisational structure", which is one of the three greatest barriers for 41% of respondents. The next most significant barrier was "complexity of customer experience", cited as a major barrier by 38% of respondents.
According to the report, many organisations are lacking an individual or department to take responsibility for the customer experience within the business. For some companies, the problem is compounded by a lack of budget. More than one-third of the companies surveyed (38%) said that ownership of the multichannel customer experience lies with a mixture of different departments, and only 31% said they have a budget dedicated to improving the customer experience. Worryingly, 28% said there is no budget at all for improving the customer experience, while a further 41% said that they have to use money that was budgeted for other things.
The full report is available for purchase directly from EConsultancy's web site - click here.