Nine out of 10 companies understand the importance of creating a joined up customer experience, which delights patrons and helps staff to maintain high standards.

That statistic comes from some research we did in association with Foviance last November. So how many of our 500+ survey respondents said they had achieved such a high level of integration? A mere 20 of them: just 4%. As such it is patently clear that there is a huge gap between where companies want to be, versus where they’re at. 

Below, I have listed a few common hurdles in joining up business activities across channels. We’d especially love to hear about your own challenges. In fact we want to hear about them so much that we’ve created a £5,000+ prize package, which one lucky tweeter will win. See the bottom of this post for details on how to enter our competition.

So what are some of the biggest challenges in joining things up…?

Mobile

Challenge: Winning the budget to optimise a brand’s mobile presence (website, apps, search, ads, campaigns, landing pages).

Issues: A low percentage of web visitors are currently using their phones to access your website. Is it really worth spending money to optimise the mobile experience? Your boss doesn’t think so…

The business case: It doesn’t cost the earth to make your existing website mobile-friendly (as opposed to create a standalone mobile website, which is a bad idea in my opinion). Furthermore, mobile internet usage is rapidly increasing (this is a permanent shift, not a ‘trend’). Finally, ask yourself, and your boss: “What’s the opportunity cost?” Are you missing an opportunity to engage mobile users because your website isn’t optimised for the mobile platform? Your competitors may not be.

Data

Challenge: Creating a single database to store all cross-channel customer data.

Issues: Multiple databases cause problems, especially when there is a lack of consistency in how data is captured and stored. Third party data warehousing and in-house legacy systems with an allergy to real time are at some point going to have to be updated / replaced.

Business case: Sales, marketing and service staff are increasingly reliant on accurate data that allows them to see a complete 360-degree view of customer activity. In order to become a truly customer-centric business you need to understand customer’s needs, and you do that by listening and keeping tabs on their behaviour.

By tuning into customers, and by using data in smart ways, you’re more likely to capture the sale, to delight your customers and to engage them to drive repeat sales.

Customer Service

Challenge: How to encourage staff to provide outstanding service, to boost satisfaction, customer retention, and profits.

Issues: The boards of large companies often perceive customer service to be nothing more than a (huge) cost burden. As such it becomes an unloved part of the business, where ‘just enough’ is good enough. And just enough is never enough for the customer.

Business Case: It is far more cost-effective, and profitable, to keep your customers happy in order to boost loyalty rates. The big problem is that many businesses have a culture of customer acquisition, and a problem with customer churn. Sales and marketing staff are incentivised to acquire lots of new customers, yet the value of a new customer is an unknown quantity.

It is far better to develop long-term customer satisfaction rates, by providing world-class customer service (as Zappos and first direct have done). This will boost average customer lifetime value, which is my favourite business KPI of all. One further point: one in eight consumers will happily pay a premium for premium service, so why not launch a ‘VIP’ service offering? 

Structural

Challenge: The company you work for is vast and has been segmented into silos for as long as you can remember. 

Issues: Silo-based organisations find it very difficult to communicate between departments. The right hand may not know what the left is doing. A top-down management style, through various chains of command, does not make for an agile business. The company culture can be diverse. 

Business Case: It is difficult to persuade an aging board to restructure the business to meet the needs of today’s consumer. In some companies, generational change may be required before that happens. Or it may be simply unfeasible. But there are things you can do to make things better. It is vitally important that the lines of communication are opened up, so that your colleagues are singing from the same songsheet.

Training, talking, and tactics are the key. You’ll need a comms strategy, and buy-in from stakeholders right across the business. You’ll need to convince all staff to be channel agnostic, and to work for the customer, rather than the channel in which they operate. Staff should to be incentivised to go the extra mile, and to really buy into the notion of the customer experience. 

COMPETITION! 

Before we get to that, we’d love to know what your biggest challenges are, so have a think and if you’d like to share them with us simply tell us via a tweet, which needs to include #cometojump hashtag to help us track responses. 

PRIZES!

One of these tweets will be chosen at random to win our prize pool, which is worth £5,000+. It includes a very sexy Lumix GF3 camera, two tickets to our JUMP event, and a Platinum Membership to Econsultancy, among other things. All for a tweet! Aim here for full details on the prizes and competition itself. 

So then, what is your biggest challenge in trying to join up your business, to support the online and offline customer experience? Do tell!