In this guest post, Steven Fitzjohn (pictured below), regional vice president for the Asia-Pacific region at LivePerson, outlines why focusing on a single-channel strategy with messaging capabilities is the only way to grab the attention of customers and build a lasting and meaningful connection.
The connection between brands and customers today is a messy, complicated, omnichannel labyrinth. Companies have scrambled in recent years to support the ‘latest thing’ and have wound up with a spaghetti of different channels on their plates: in-person, phone, email, web, social media, apps – the list goes on. But omnichannel today actually presents a serious misalignment with modern consumer behaviours. Your customers don’t care if you’re on every channel – as long as you’re on their channel, increasingly the smartphone.
Omnichannel was built around the idea that not all consumers have access to any one channel all the time, or most of the time – they could and would engage with your brand across a variety of different platforms and devices. In the past, a user might send your customer service a tweet using the Twitter app in one moment and shop your site or check out your blog via laptop the next. The whole point of omnichannel is to track and collate customer touch points across separate channels. While this data may be valuable to the company, it does not mean that customers demand or even want access to every channel.
Enter the ‘superchannel’
Two trends are killing omnichannel. First, the ubiquity of smartphones; and second, that messaging now dominates the way most people communicate, replacing phone calls to stay connected. While the omnichannel model made sense once, mobility of the ‘superchannel’ has all but killed it.
With smartphones accessible basically 100 per cent of the time, mobile is asynchronous – and persistent – so customers can jump right in or out of conversations whenever they want to. It’s ubiquitous, works everywhere and, most importantly, gives consumers varied platform choices, whether it’s a company’s app, mobile site or Facebook page.
The superchannel and messaging
The fact is brand survival now comes down to not only identifying the channel your consumers are on, but also identifying their preferred communication platform. The switch to messaging is blatantly clear – globally, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have both exceeded one billion users, leaving no doubt that this is the future of brand communications.
Without messaging, brands simply can’t stay one step ahead of their competitors, or respond to their consumer demands instantly or effectively.
Yes, the telephone will continue to play a role for some customers, but the undeniable fact is that the proportion of people preferring to use messaging as their primary communications channel has risen dramatically in recent years and will continue to grow. Brands need to look ahead to ensure their longevity.
It’s time for brands to self-reflect, understand who their customer is and invest money, time and energy into creating a messaging capability that is personal and convenient. However, the answer isn’t simply directing consumers to just any messaging app – it’s about creating a seamless messaging experience where a consumer can jump from mobile to tablet to desktop without disruption or challenges.
By following these three steps, brands can thrive in the age of the superchannel:
- Know your weakness
Identifying flaws is never an easy task, but being able to understand what is working and what isn’t enables better processes to be implemented to stop potentially damaging customer issues. Sometimes it’s as simple as refreshing current strategies, but brands shouldn’t be afraid of implementing new and improved processes. The challenge is not identifying the problem, but understanding whether your solution is fit for purpose.
- Determine quantifiable goals
Success is different for everyone, but establishing clear parameters from the beginning makes it easier to measure and determine ROI. Understanding end-goals helps direct business decisions through understanding how consumers are interacting with the brand. For example, if shopping carts are being abandoned before being made, will banner deals help with sales? By having a clear end-goal, everyday decisions are streamlined because everybody is working toward the same goal.
- Engage with your audience through messaging apps
By identifying what messaging application a customer is on, brands are able to reach their target audience because they are communicating directly on a channel that makes sense to them. This helps brands truly understand and utilise business-to-consumer messaging that focuses on perfecting their delivery and message, rather than diluting themselves across multiple channels. Messaging has moved beyond a means to communicate with friends, family and colleagues. People are using their power to communicate to spread messages about brands and engage with them, and as mobile social media is a force that collates viewership and opinion, it is increasingly important to get it right.
Leaving a mark through the superchannel
There are few opportunities to grab consumer attention and make meaningful connections before they are swayed away by the bright lights of competitors. Focusing on purchasers through a single channel that bears meaning for them is finally possible on the superchannel, and by incorporating messaging, brands can refine and perfect a consumer’s experience and interaction, which makes the shopping experience memorable.