Crosscanal, omnichannel: technological innovation for the customer experience
For your business to be here tomorrow, it is essential that it succeeds with the digital transformation. This involves using technological innovation to implement cross-channel and omnichannel distribution. To do this, strategic challenges must be met and tactical actions to be taken.
Still some way to go!
A recent survey of 150 business leaders shows that 99% see digital transformation as the way to counter new entrants, conquer new markets and stand out in customer service. It is therefore a question of survival in front of swift and increasingly fierce competitors like Alibaba or Amazon.
However, only 64% of these managers say they have taken the first step in this transformation by implementing multi-channel which is limited to offering customers a multiplication of distribution channels. Just 30% are considering the next step, the cross-channel which favors the customer experience, increasing the advantages of the different channels and developing a global synergy. We are still a long way from what nomadic and multiconnected consumers really want, namely omnichannel, the third step that allows them to follow them and manage all their interactions in real time and memorize their choices regardless of the channel used. Indeed, they are at the same time in store, on their phone, in front of the TV, on their tablet, in conversation with the call center, at the same time as in front of their desktop computer. They therefore require that your company take into account their ubiquity by guaranteeing the homogeneity of the routes and the fluidity of the interactions from one channel to another.
Therefore, it is clear that technological innovation is becoming crucial to ensure the sustainability of your business, regardless of its size. These new technologies must be chosen and deployed based on their contribution to improving the customer experience. To achieve this, the analysis of the path of several companies, as well as a benchmarking international best practices in this area lead to the establishment of strategic challenges to be met and tactical actions to be taken.
Six strategic challenges for your business
To prioritize improving the customer experience, you need to reposition several of the conventional strategic directions in technological innovation.
1. Realign the mission
Your focus should shift from developing applications to building platforms and delivering solutions. This means websites able to support heavy traffic, offering tools and technical means, as well as storage, classification and reference spaces for content that can be put online by third parties. Also, portals that give access to a set of sites. In fact, you have to think in terms of complete digital ecosystems that capture the entire value chain.
2.Modify the target in the choice of technologies
In implementing technological innovations, you must prioritize the overall perspective of your business and no longer the needs of the various business functions or specific groups. With cross-channel or omnichannel, it becomes essential to design systems that can continue to serve particular interests, but more importantly, integrate with others to share information and provide consolidated data for your entire business. It is essential that any development is based on a 360 visiono of all information needs and is focused on meeting customer expectations.
3. Use prototyping
It is important that you prioritize the rapid delivery of technological innovations that make it possible to respond in real time to the demands of a changing market. This implies putting in place an increasingly sophisticated and complex, but still reliable, infrastructure, as well as an enterprise architecture (IT urbanization) to ensure integration and standardization.
4. Invoice costs
You have to recognize and invoice the costs of technological innovations. Even though the cost of information is falling due to the power of information technology, the demands for new systems continue to grow. Unfortunately, if employees and executives believe that developing systems is free, the demand will be endless and less relevant to improving the customer experience.
5.Double the training
Consideration should be given to training in all your developments or system modifications, given their large number and the often high employee turnover rate, especially in customer services. If the training is not sufficient or relevant, users underutilize the technologies, which greatly decreases the return on investment. In any project, regardless of its size, it is crucial to rigorously assess training needs in order to budget for the cost.
6.Choose innovative technologies
Above all, you should not engage in the digital war of tomorrow with yesterday’s technologies. Having the technologies to operate increasingly large and complex systems is crucial. We need technologies that are able to analyze in real time consumer behavior, social media, process the growing volume of video and the gargantuan databases.
Six tactical actions to take
At the tactical level, you must take several actions so that technological innovations allow your company to successfully cross-channel and omnichannel.
1. Make the necessary level of investment
Your business must have the capacity to invest and its leaders the will to do so. Indeed, the adapted and efficient technologies to support the transition to multi-channel, cross-channel and omnichannel require enormous investments. They are first and foremost financial, but just as much in terms of expertise and monitoring to be and stay on the cutting edge.
2.Manage the pressure of technology supply
Technological innovations are more and more rapid and radical. Such a large supply puts a lot of pressure on your business. You probably don’t want to miss out on growth opportunities and, above all, see yourself downgraded by your competitors. At the same time, we have lost count of the resounding failures of technology projects that have resulted in staggering cost overruns or the realization of little or even none of the expected benefits.
Your business needs to strike the right balance between not missing out on the opportunities that emerging technologies offer and ensuring that those technologies will be adopted by users. In fact, it is not the companies that have the most or the newest technologies that will survive, but those where the personnel know how to use their full potential to better serve customers.
3.Build and maintain cutting-edge expertise
Both to make informed choices among new technologies, and in the development and maintenance of systems, you need to be able to count on cutting-edge expertise. This is crucial, especially in the case of cross-channel and omnichannel. Indeed, consumers are on the cutting edge of emerging technologies and demand that your business can keep up with them.
If expertise is not available internally, recourse to external resources is necessary. One of the important activities then becomes ensuring the transfer of knowledge, in order to reduce the dependence of your company.
4. Prioritize compatibility
The exchange of information, the accessibility and flexibility of databases, as well as the interoperability between your systems are essential elements for cross-channel and omnichannel performance. Compatibility is therefore a priority both in the acquisition of new technologies and in-house developments.
To get there, you need to build an enterprise architecture and constantly keep it up to date. You also need to determine development standards not only so that your systems can interact internally, but also meet industry standards to support any external collaboration. A data warehouse is also becoming essential for providing a single-reference set of information.
5.Require operational leadership
The aim is to reverse the trend where it is the Technology Department that pushes technological innovations. It can undoubtedly continue to promote the new technologies and internal expertise available, but it is up to your operational departments, especially those of customer services, to initiate and take responsibility for the management of these. projects. The technology must at all costs be adapted to the needs of consumers and not the other way around as is often the case. Technical quality can remain an objective, but must not be achieved at all costs and, above all, to the detriment of the relevance of the response to customer needs.
6.Offer extensive and constant support
Your customer service agents cannot adequately meet consumer expectations if they do not have access to or properly control the systems available to them. It is therefore essential that they can count on instant support in the event of technological problems. This means for technologists to provide technical assistance to ensure the full and continuous functionality of Internet systems and platforms. More so, they must be able to help customer service agents use the full potential of these systems in their interactions with consumers. Such support is needed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since online sites are continuously accessible.
This should enlighten you on the management of technological innovation. But for your business to succeed with the digital transition and truly ensure its sustainability, as shown in the graph below, there are other variables to consider in synergy with technology, namely: people, collaboration and regulation. . Therefore, you would probably like to go further and know how to manage all of these interacting components in the cross-channel and the omnichannel. To do this, you can check out the full guide I designed: Successful multichannel distribution: the “WOW” effect in terms of customer service. It is available in digital format on the Amazon, Kobo, YouScribe (PDF format) and iBooks Store platforms.
Yves-Chantal Gagnon M.Sc. (RI); MBA; Ph. D. Professor is a consultant in change management and technology management (MIS). After a career as a senior executive in various companies and Senior Consultant in an international audit and consulting firm, he is currently a University Professor.
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