'Omnichannel customer experience' and 'single customer view'; two terms that cause many a marketers' eyes to roll.

There's no doubt that these two concepts have been realised by a select few, bleeding edge brands, but they can be trotted out as best practice without much pragmatism.

Econsultancy's Multichannel Customer Intelligence report in partnership with Station10 looks at how brands have tackled the issue of integrating data into their organisations across multiple channels.

I thought I'd treat you to some choice quotes.

Omnichannel vs. multichannel

Steve Sweeney, General Manager Marketing Operations at MoneySuperMarket.com

Omnichannel or multichannel, it’s all just language to us. Someone recently told me we should say omnichannel but if you put the customer at the heart of the sentence – they don’t care if it’s multichannel or omnichannel, they just want it to work. 

Multichannel culture

Adam Joseph, Director of Digital Casinos, Grosvenor Casinos

It’s a big cultural shift to stop general managers thinking it’s cannibalisation, but if you can convert [our casino customers] to playing digitally with us, it’s increasing our share of wallet and stopping them playing with competitors.

We are in a unique position to stop migration to our competition.

grosvenor casinos website

Choosing the right KPIs

Paul Say, Director of Marketing, UK&I, Sage

You’ve got to be crystal clear in terms of your KPIs driving the marketing process towards optimisation. At Sage, as more and more of our customers go onto the cloud, we are finding lots of transactional data being generated.

When you look at the sales journey on the website, we keep our KPIs to a minimum here even though the web generates so much information. It’s about being really clear what metric is important to the organisation.

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce, Schuh 

Typically with the transactional style of data we’ve got access to more information than we’re really doing enough with. While there are theoretical things I’d like to know more about, they’re wants – not needs.

We should be focusing on our needs, that’s how we get our best return on data.

Andrew Warner, VP Marketing at Monster.co.uk

We've boiled things down into three levels of data:

  • The key performance indicators that have been shown to have the biggest impact on our commercial performance – the dashboard of the car if you like.
  • The diagnostic data, a greater level of granularity, which each function needs to inform them the ‘engine is running smoothly’ and to adjust where necessary.
  • Insight data which allows us to better identify, test and quantify future opportunities.

The insight data is the hardest as you don’t always know what you are looking for. Consequently, you have to use your business objectives and strategic approach as a filter and focus in areas where you have identified gaps and opportunities.

The KPI data and diagnostic data will often provide signals as to where you need to look for insights. Sometimes you identify quite small, incremental things you can change that have a positive business impact.

Find a few of those and your analytics quickly pays for itself.

Ed Kamm, Chief Customer Officer, First Utility

Our objective has been to capture as much data as possible. I’d rather cast a wide net and find out what could be useful.

Even seemingly disparate bits of data are useful when brought together. Once someone becomes a customer, it’s different.

We want to know how they are using the app or the website and also combine this with third party data sources in terms of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and home sale data.

The challenge is to bring it all together to provide commercial insights.

first utility website

Education in store

Celia Pronto, Marketing and Ecommerce Director, TrustFord

Where we have an advantage is because of the nature of our business we have the permission to capture a lot of information because of the nature of the purchase customers are making with us. We can capture address details, date of birth and financial information, as well as email and mobile.

We are also finding that some of our colleagues at the frontline are starting to fill in some of the additional colour for us, capturing customers’ interests as an example.

We’re not using this information from a communications perspective – an interest in sailing is tough to use in segmentation – but it’s feeding it back to the customer when you speak to them that reaps the benefits in nurturing and growing the relationship.

The biggest stumbling block is probably making sure we do capture the most valuable data – in our case, email and mobile because it’s a more cost-effective route to market.

There’s a big piece around education and behaviour change . If frontline colleagues don’t understand that it’s important to capture this information they don’t necessarily try to in the day-to-day melee.

Customer incentives

Stuart McMillan, Schuh

We have a 365-day return policy, we wanted it in ecommerce but the retail side of the business wanted to have more interactions with the business, especially with the lifecycle in kids stores, such as inviting customers in to have their children’s feet re-measured.

We wanted to add value to customer interactions with us. Check and reserve has given a convenient service. Any data capture gets more attention if it’s attractive to the customer.

The limitations of social

David Paice, Group Ecommerce and Admissions Director, Merlin Entertainments

Social media also provides another listening post, although aggregating that data to deliver meaningful insights at a global scale is difficult.

Stuart McMillan, Schuh

We don’t try to aggregate social media insights; we just look at it in isolation. Simply because of the complexity of doing so and we’re far from convinced about the ROI we can get from integrating it.

But we can get a lot of value from looking at it on its own. Time and money is required and we’re open to being convinced.

schuh on twitter 

Data skills

Stuart McMillan, Schuh

We deal with things at quite a low level, with a skill set that allows us to query databases.

Because it’s all our own system, it all talks back to a single back-end database and the transactional database runs the warehouse. SQL isn’t to everyone’s taste but it was designed to be human.

David Langridge, Group Marketing Director at Fitness First

We are only just getting around to employing data scientists – not data analysts – because we need to be able to understand the question properly before we can even begin to ask it.

Third-party solutions

Tanya Cordrey, Chief Digital Officer of The Guardian

Every day my inbox is inundated by people trying to sell me data solutions.

I suspect many have the same experience, but we took the decision at The Guardian to build our own data platform because we believe nobody can understand our readers better than we can and we want to be leading the thinking, not following the crowd.

Team structures

Mark Evans, Marketing Director, Direct Line

For us there’s a hub-and-spoke model emerging. More specialised analytics will remain within each function, whereas overall data ownership and management will sit centrally.

We’ve got our first data scientist on board and they will play a key role in coordination.

Functions will need to access centrally held data but often the work itself needs to be undertaken within the context and specifics of the function. There is a folly in overcentralising.

Ben Davis

Published 17 December, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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