Join the omni-channel transformation!

Omni-channel marketing refers to providing an optimal customer journey in which all channels are seamlessly integrated and deployed to create value for customer and brand alike. It requires marketers to cooperate across various channels without the culture, KPIs and bonuses having been aligned to this way of working and before the systems are entirely in place. Omni-channel marketing involves much more than merely digitising marketing operations, as this blog describes.

Omni-channel: a necessity!

Although not all companies are ready yet for an omni-channel customer approach, customers already expect a transparent and integrated process when making a purchase; a process in which all channels are seamlessly connected and they can count on one experience, one information source and one price. Brands need to be present and active in the communication channels in which customers are active and where they expect to be served.

This point is confirmed in research by McKinsey from 2014. McKinsey found that 48% of US consumers felt that companies need to do a better job of integrating their online and offline experiences. McKinsey writes: “Properly integrating online and offline channels delivers real results. One major bank unlocked more than $300 million in additional margins by making better use of digital channels. It tapped into underutilized customer data and delivered targeted marketing messages at various points in the purchase-decision process.”

The omni-channel customer approach is here to stay. It is an important precondition for being genuinely competitive towards consumers. Brands that invest in omni-channel marketing now will have an advantage. We believe that an omni-channel customer approach is a driver for customer satisfaction and customer value. It is therefore a necessity for brands to consider how omnichannel their brand should be!

How does omni-channel marketing work?

Omni-channel interaction with customers requires more than just connecting various digital channels to marketing operations. There is no prescribed recipe for an omni-channel transformation and it differs for every environment and every brand. We can identify some fixed ingredients on the axis of people, process and platform. These are:

  • Vision and ambition: where are you at as a brand and what are your ambitions?
  • Impact: what is the impact of these ambitions on your strategy/management, process/organisation, data/systems?
  • Drawing up a roadmap towards an omni-channel organisation;
  • Determining the change approach. Consider issues such as speed, scope, preservation, diversity, capacity (time, money, resources), change capability, power, change readiness.

René Fischer discusses several challenges on the axis of platform in his blog ‘Een marketing database: noodzaak of overbodig?’. ‘Becoming’ omni-channel also has an impact on operational processes, people and the ‘organising capacity’ of a brand. The impact of such a change should never be underestimated. Serving customers in an omni-channel way changes how a brand does business and has an impact on a process and organisation level in particular. A first challenge is to help the organisation and people ‘think omni-channel’ and stop them from thinking ‘inside their silo’.  Another challenge involves choosing the omni-channel work method that suits the brand. Are multidisciplinary (segment) teams more suitable or is the solution to be found in agile ways of working? Or perhaps a combination of the two? And what is the role and influence of the company culture in this process?

roadmapeasyshutterstock_125226035For both the brand and the employees, an omni-channel approach is a true revolution – one could even call it a culture shock. This is why it is also crucial to consider the change approach. Successful transformation requires more than a roadmap and planning alone. It is recommended to draw up and define a roadmap and plan together with the organisation. The organisation knows something needs to happen and there can be plenty of good ideas to tap into. So start by making sure you are and remain connected with your own people, finding out their take on the subject. Aligning your approach to your findings gives you the best chance of a successful change.

Omni-channel: no time to waste

As we have seen, going omni-channel involves more than the digitisation of marketing operations. It means aligning the entire organisation to become interconnected to each other and the outside world in an omni-channel way. This blog focuses on one major challenge: the change with regard to process and organisation as well as the change in itself. We will continue along this line in subsequent blogs and also dive deeper into how marketing activities can be realised in an omni-channel way. Stay tuned!

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