How to Meet the Expectations of Today’s Multichannel Customers – findings from Canon’s Thought Leadership paper

forrester article 1 How to Meet the Expectations of Today’s Multichannel Customers

Executives told us that their organisations are eager to use the power of digital transformation to keep pace with the rapidly-evolving expectations of their clients. Fifty-one percent of executives cite customer satisfaction as a top metric when building a business case for emerging communications channels and technologies.

However, mere recognition of the importance of customer experience is just one part of the challenge. Forrester’s research suggests many organisations struggle to deliver a consistent customer experience both on and offline.

One reason for this is the rapid adoption of mobile technology. As mobile devices and applications proliferate, consumers have multiple ways to interact with companies and expect to get what they want, when they want it. Forrester projects that the number of smartphone users in five European countries – the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain – will be close to 230 million by 2017, and the number of people owning tablets will triple to 137 million.

The widespread adoption of mobile technology means that companies must support a host of emerging digital channels, while keeping an eye on offline communications. Although the importance of digital channels is increasing, legacy channels like events, printed materials, and face-to-face interactions are not going away.

Organisations recognise the importance of both prioritising customer experience and supporting multiple channels, but they typically lack a focused approach to focus their attention on a few core issues. Instead, they find themselves struggling with the impossible task of trying to prioritise every opportunity.

More than 70 percent of firms told us that they consider responsive web design, a unifying view of the customer, and customer journey mapping to be high priorities. They also want to prioritise advanced analytics, internal collaboration and adaptive web design. With so many competing initiatives, it’s inevitable that organisations spread themselves too thinly.

This scattergun approach to prioritising initiatives points to a need for better internal alignment. When we asked survey respondents to name their three top challenges in serving customers across multiple devices, 61% highlighted lack of coordination across organisational silos, 46% cited lack of budgets, 38% pointed to cultural resistance, and 29% identified a lack of strategy.

To deliver great experiences to customers, in journeys that involve multiple devices and channels, firms need to acquire new skills, improve coordination, and adopt tactics to overcome technical obstacles. This requires them to prioritise the hiring and training of staff in specialist areas such as responsive design, user interface design and mobile usability. To ensure that their organizations do this in a disciplined way, executives must adopt practices that focus their firms on the initiatives that will deliver the best results and build structures that will drive cross-functional collaboration, such as steering committees, cross-functional teams, and centres of excellence. Finally, they need frameworks and to focus on the channels and technologies that will help deliver the best results.