Sunday, August 07, 2005

Path 2: Overcoming Channel Proliferation Woes

Align and Integrate Stove-piped Channel Structures

Channel strategies should include the ability to provide customers with personalized experiences based on individual preferences and interaction history. Providers should be able to leverage this information to provide services and products that are meaningful to the customer. Channel services can be further separated into front-end services (such as Customer Preferences, Interaction History and Pre-sales Consultative Advice) and back-end services (such as Help Desk, Installation and Transaction Management).

Cap Gemini Ernst & Young reported in “A Need to Change Perspective” that 89% of institutions surveyed cited “lack of integrated systems” as the leading reason for the failure to synchronize channel support systems around customer needs. Each channel was maintained as an independent silo with its own workflow, database and sales and service processes.

Consensus in our research is that it will take an integrated approach to customer acqui¬sition and development to be successful. Such point-of-service solu¬tions will wrap frontline, telephone, internet and mail media into a total offering. No matter which medium creates a particular touchpoint with the customer, the channel will deliver the same information and experience in a highly personalized manner.

PROCESS: When channel processes are integrated, it is possible for managers to map out transac¬tions and channels and guide customers to the most efficient use of their own time to accom¬plish their particular goals, while conserving enterprise resources. Implement processes to assure efficient channel integration and to improve quality and speed. Realign customer sales and serv¬ice processes around customer preferences. Whereas in the past, customers completed an entire transaction in one channel, now they will do research on the web, get product and pricing information from the 800 service, visit the local “brick and mortar” office or retail facility to get personal advice and complete the application process online. Optimize the ability for channels to transfer knowledge to one another. Extend business process flow across multiple channels. Improve customer communications and agent support across channels. Accelerate quoting and policy issuance processes.

CULTURE: Define where customer ownership really belongs – frontline or back-office. If back-¬office (where service is actually delivered), then empower these people to do the job right. Make sure that operations people traditionally focused on efficiency can become relationship managers. Upgrade the call center into a customer relationship center and train them on selling as well as servicing. To minimize channel conflict, define clear roles and responsibilities for each channel and clear policy for how channels help everyone grow. Encourage knowledge sharing to replace the natural tendency to hoard knowledge to protect turf.

TECHNOLOGY: Data access and integration, process automation, sales automation, multi-channel contact center automation and document automation are just a few of the automation technologies available.

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