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Multi channel strategy drives customers away

Companies are driving many customers away thanks to a short-sighted approach to their multichannel strategy, according to new research published by BT


Multi channel strategy drives customers away

A perceived lack of internal communication and consistency between the various channels used by a company and a tenacious approach to using automated call centres and self-service machines to cut costs, have left customers increasingly frustrated.

In-depth interviews and focus groups revealed that whilst customers want to interact with stores a

cross several different medium, most highlighted frustrating experiences when dealing with a company via just two different channels. Ninety-seven per cent of customers expect their interactions with companies to be consistent and seamless, regardless of which medium they are using to communicate. Dr Nicola Millard, BT Global Services, said: “Respondents all shared a passionate frustration with businesses that lacked an integrated communications approach. Expectation often didn't translate into reality leaving customers with the perception that the company's right hand didn't know what its left was doing. Most worrying for businesses, where this is the case, the vast majority proudly acclaim how they “gave up” or “bought elsewhere”. It is vital that businesses integrate their channels as customers expect contact with a firm to be channel agnostic.”

The research also highlighted the importance of positive investment in multichannel. Internet and mobile customers are only a click away from abandoning a company if their expectations are not met. The most multichannel prone customer, however, tends to be a more profitable consumer for retailers as they are more likely to engage in cross-selling and up-selling. According to research, customers using two channels spend 114 per cent more than single channel shoppers. Consumers using three channels are 48 per cent more profitable than those using just two. Yet only around 10 per cent of companies handle more than telephone calls in their contact centres.

Many firms have been evangelical in trying to do all their customer contact on lower cost, “self-serve” channels, such as automated calls and e-mail. This often frustrates customers and is not always the correct approach.

Dr Millard continues: “Too many firms see choosing their channels as an opportunity to cut costs, rather than create new revenue streams. This can be short-sighted given that multichannel customers can open up so many new revenue opportunities. Companies need to carefully evaluate how the cost of their multichannel strategy affects their relationship with customers.

“The difficulty with multichannel strategies is often a chicken and egg one. Organisations will only invest significantly in a new channel when they can prove its worth. They should remember, however, that customers will only use a new channel if it offers them a truly effective experience.”

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