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Why You Should Ditch the Multichannel Mind-Set

We’ve all been talking about omnichannel and multichannel for a while now: how customers move from one channel to another, and how brands communicate and engage with their customers in each of those channels. But the challenge we have seen (in organizations of all sizes) is that channels tend to be owned and managed by different teams. They have different technologies, campaign initiatives, and success goals. And, most importantly, each channel is competing for limited budgets to support unconnected initiatives.

However, while companies have been busy talking about omnichannel, their customers just want to engage. Customers don’t care about channels—they care about experiences.

Focus on channel-less customer experiences.

The future of customer engagement lies in experiences. So if channels are still what you are talking about, you aren’t focused on great customer experiences. In today’s market, customers have unlimited choices in how to buy products and get their problems solved. That means that it’s not unique goods and services but rather the experience customers have when doing business with a brand that sets a company apart.

The term “experience economy” was coined by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore in Harvard Business Review in 1998, and they have this to say about it: “An experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event. Commodities are fungible, goods tangible, services intangible, and experiences memorable [emphasis in original].”(1) Customers crave the memorable, whether they are buying a pair of jeans or purchasing cloud software service for their enterprise. But a channel within an organization can’t be the owner of a memorable experience. That’s the job of everyone within the organization.

Make sure your CMO and your CTO are friends.

As we move into more automation with marketing, advertising, and customer engagement, both the chief marketing officer and the chief technology officer need to share a strategic view of customers.

The CMO needs a roadmap to understand what customers need and how they want to engage. He or she needs to know how the organization’s website, app, email program, advertising, and sales team connect with each other. Meanwhile, the CTO needs to understand how technology systems support customers on every channel and how those same systems support the day-to-day enterprise.

There is no more time or money for unconnected marketing and IT initiatives. The C-level team needs to stop thinking of technology by department and instead think of how technology enables amazing customer experiences.

Connect digital transformation initiatives.

As much as omnichannel has become a buzzword and a focus in recent years, digital transformation is the trend that rules them all. We are in the age where technology is fundamentally changing how business is done rather than simply enhancing and supporting traditional business methods.

And customers are further than enterprises in their own individual digital transformations. They control their homes by voice search, have clothes tailored just for them that show up each month at their doors, order food via Facebook Messenger, and hail rides instantly by using an app. Strangely, customers understand integrated digital transformation better than the enterprises that make their digital experiences possible.

If there are unconnected digital transformation initiatives happening at your company, stop what you are doing right now and find out if these initiatives are in support of a better customer experience. Your enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain, customer sales, and marketing systems should all be connected and working in service of your customers, making sure they have the best experience possible. If they aren’t, then you are in the wasteland of commoditized goods and services, NOT customer experience.

At GLG, we have been leading the way for companies by helping them craft digital transformation roadmaps that blaze trails for best-in-class customer experiences. We look at all channels within an organization, and, more importantly, we look at how each of those channels connects to the customers. Then we shape a strategic plan involving marketing programs and technology initiatives that puts customers front and center. If this sounds like something your organization would benefit from, we would love to talk to you about how to create your own channel-less customer experience.


1. B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, “Welcome to the Experience Economy,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 1998 issue, https://hbr.org/1998/07/welcome-to-the-experience-economy.