Back in the day, the concept of customer communications was all about the message and the customer. Today it’s about way more than that. Timing plays a big role and the choice of the right medium is even more crucial. All these aspects of customer communications and how they come together trickle down to one thing: meeting customer preferences.
In this week’s blog, we delve deeper into how the need to reach out to customers via the channel of their choice has led to the birth of multichannel and cross-channel communications. What is multichannel communication and are their different approaches you can take to provide the customer with what he wants to learn or know and further improve their customer experience?
Multichannel customer communications are about reaching out to your audience via multiple channels such as email, SMS, push notifications etc. For example, some people prefer digital invoices over print so they can be directed to a digital payment method more fluently. There are three kinds of approaches to multichannel communications, each better suited for the individual customer than the last: passive, active and responsive multichannel communications.
If the same content and the same look and feel are used for multiple channels, we speak of passive multichannel communications. This kind of customer communications takes into account customer preferences but doesn’t require the effort to manage multiple templates. However, because the content of the communication isn’t adapted to the channel, the customer experience doesn’t necessarily improve. An example of passive multichannel communication is a pdf version of a print communication in an email attachment, such as the invoice on the left that can be printed to add to your bookkeeping.
As opposed to passive multichannel communications, active multichannel communications do change depending on the channel. They add differentiation in content based on the channel, which definitely improves the customer experience. For example, a customer journey can start with a print communication to meet individual customer preferences, but by adding a QR code, you enable the customer to continue his customer journey digitally if he feels like it. As such, they are a taste of what cross-channel communications can provide.
If you’re looking for an optimal customer experience, responsive multichannel customer communications are the next step forward. Design responsive communications that provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience across a wide range of devices and use the characteristics and capabilities of the channel to trigger follow-up actions. Interaction is key here.
Check out this Energia invoice. The customer can easily click through, swap between gas and electricity overviews, go back in time to check previous deposits and consult infographics on his consumption and information on different products and services. It provides everything the customer looks for. And more. The communication includes promotional content to suggest other products or services he or she might be interested in.
Cross-channel communications take things one step further and enable customers to go from one channel to another as the customer journey progresses. Usually, this shift is made because the characteristics of that channel are more suited for the following actions required of the customer. As a result, the customer experience will improve. Whether digital or analog, it’s crucial to ensure that the customer journey remains consistent with the same look and feel for all channels, which enables a frictionless customer journey.
What’s up next?
The smartphone is the number one device for people to connect with the rest of the world and therefore also with the brands they engage with. It makes sense that one of the growing trends for the future and upcoming channels is live chat. Through live chat, customers carry customer service and support in their pocket at all times. The connection is instant, but the customer experience can only be great if the service is as well. If you wait hours or even days to come back with a reply this immediacy goes flying out the window.