Now is good for me
What are you waiting for?
When it comes to planning how to integrate various customer channels many New Zealand businesses seem a little stuck.
Stuck on our own agenda
There's no debate about the business benefit of having highly-engaged customers, or how providing integrated experiences help that happen. So why aren't more Kiwi businesses onto this? A key reason is that most organisations are separated internally by channel, along with siloed KPIs, P&L, and subsequently…planning. I've heard views from all sides about how this separation is the main, even the sole barrier to integrated channel planning where customer interactions are designed into and between channels. But I'm not convinced. Is the internal structure of our companies the real problem? Maybe the idea of arranging channels and touchpoints around customers is just too hard to get our heads around? I think this is probably so, here's why.
We don't really understand our customers - so how can we get smarter about serving them?
We've all got a few inches of research paperwork outlining supposed consumer preferences, intentions and satisfaction - but that's not helping. We don't really get it, we can't distil it, and it's usually hard to 'action'. Of course in the rest of our lives we get to know people in person. The more we get to know them the stronger the relationship. Until businesses slow down and take time to really 'get' their customers, designing business interactions to suit them is going to be tricky... regardless of the channel.
We're rewarded for the short game - not the tough stuff
As employees our value is constantly being evaluated. Did we deliver? What was the result? There's a focus on now, not tomorrow. A few key people are tasked with the strategic stuff, but even they're under pressure to show quick results. And as much as moving to multi-channel marketing (and service delivery) is about taking small steps, it's equally about deciding where you need to end up. And that's too often in the too hard basket. A motorcycle instructor once told me that on a bike you end up in the place you're looking at. When you enter a corner you can't look at the corner, you look through it and out the other side. Business is no different. We all need to deliver 'now' - but we need to look where we want to get to. We can't afford to crash into one of the corners we encounter along the way.
We're comfortable with this - not that
In my view, perhaps the biggest barrier to multi-channel progress in New Zealand is that it requires a new way thinking. To deliver integrated we have to think integrated. We need to step out of our comfort zone and learn about 'other' channels and ideas. We need to use our heads first. We need to re-think how we do things, to realise that just because we can do things our way there just might be a better way.
Ultimately, the reasons don't matter
Integrated (multi-channel) experiences are coming whether or not your business is ready for them. Your peers and competitors are already discovering the leverage they can give their businesses, allowing customers to command their own interactions. Your business may not have the ideal structures today to help you explore this new frontier - but don’t hide behind that. It's too easy to focus on your internal priorities instead of those of your customers. Especially when you're making big calls like your channels strategy (you do have a channels strategy right?). The reality is that there's never been a better time for you and your businesses to get into the business of meeting customer needs properly. What are you waiting for?
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Open is a forum for exploring Commercial Intimacy – by looking at what’s evolving in the worlds of consumers, and where this is both challenging and liberating for business.
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