Last year, we started to see the term omni-channel bandied around quite a bit, and the increasing “buzziness” of this word is only gaining steam. I’ll admit this catchy moniker made me roll my eyes at first, as so many only pick up these buzzwords or catch phrases but rarely the definition or true meaning behind such marketing-friendly phrases. Whether you throw out other words, like e-commerce, customer experience management, multi-channel or the 360 degree view of the customer, all of the above, including the aforementioned buzzword of 2014, tries to address a common problem for many consumer companies out there: how they engage and serve their customers’ experiences with the company brand as a whole.

    Recently, I purchased a new GM vehicle that came with a free trial of OnStar. Honestly, I never used their turn-by-turn navigation or used any minutes for their hands-free calling. Isn’t that what my smartphone is for? But I did get hooked on their vehicle diagnostics emailed to me every month, their weather alerts and the subsequent drop in my insurance rate due to the service. So, their free trial worked. I renewed. Unfortunately, I was soon hounded by phone calls, emails and random announcements in my vehicle (which was kind of creepy). Finally, I called into their number provided by the million of customer loyalty campaigns in my in-box. I felt aggravated that I had to call in the first place, but I would do anything to make their renewal notices stop. The result: I was told since I renewed via their online channel, their customer loyalty program (a separate service) did not get the notice of my renewed subscription from the online division. They quickly hung up to move onto the next inquiry, and I was left dumbfounded. I was so aggravated that I was left feeling doubtful that a company that doesn’t even know when someone even renews could really, in fact, come save my life.

    The fact is that OnStar is OnStar to me, no matter what division I engaged with at any point in my relationship with the company. This is a feeling shared by so many consumers. They only see you as a company, not your siloed processes or data. The recent First Data Global Universal Commerce Consumer Tracker study points out that “evolving consumer expectations are essentially a demand for higher levels of service combined with an increased desire for simplicity.” We know this, but why is it so hard to meet this demand from our customers? In a recent article in DOCUMENT, Tom Roberts addresses the elephant in the room, saying, “Often, firms jump into their multi-channel communications efforts or programs without fully understanding what it is they are trying to achieve. In other words, they haven’t got a strategy.”

    The idea of a document strategy—or whatever you choose to call it—is a complex initiative that many abandon. In the face of sever inhibitors, such as process inefficiencies, technology disruptors, disparate teams and lack of leadership buy-in, many projects fail. We built our event, the DOCUMENT Strategy Forum and the Connect-IT Conference, to uniquely address this critical failing in the enterprise. Yes, there’s a glutton of events in our industry, but we focus on the strategy because we believe and know it’s the backbone of any initiative. How can you put the customer first if you don’t know how to get there or why you are trying in the first place? I urge you to not only invest in yourself, your team and company but your strategy as well. Join me in Greenwich, CT on May 13-15 to see how the customer strategies can change how people view you and your company.

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