Customer relationship management (CRM) can currently be found operating in a variety of ways. Some companies opt for a multi-channel method, which aims to interact with customers using a mixture of direct and indirect methods. Others prefer to adopt omnichannel CRM, which aims for consistent interaction across all channels, as well as different devices. Then, there’s channel-less CRM, a process that focused more on the customer experience, than which channels they use to deliver it.
This entails interacting in a transparent and highly personalised manner, wherever the customer is. Features that ensure transparency include order tracking and access to purchase history (whether in store or online), while personalisation can involve product recommendations based on customer behaviour.
In addition, channel-less CRM should be relevant to the customer’s situation, including their needs, location and preferred language, and should be made portable by alerting customers of upcoming deals on products and other in-store and online developments.
“Multichannel is about being on as many channels as possible to give customers an opportunity to buy when they’re on that channel, but it’s a blunt instrument,” he said.
“Omnichannel is about using channels intelligently to move a customer through the sales funnel based on where they are on their specific buying journey. Both require a huge amount of resources and may not actually ‘wow’ the customer, which is crucial if you want to turn those customers into advocates and repeat buyers.
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“The benefit of channel-less over multichannel and omnichannel is, therefore, better allocation of resources, resulting in an amazing experience. Customers want an ‘experience’ now more than ever, especially as we emerge into the post-lockdown sunlight, looking for entertainment rather than the ‘Add to basket’ button.
“When you dictate the experience, you dictate the channels and you make sure you’re ‘doing’ each channel as well as you possibly can do, as opposed to spreading your marketing resources too thinly.”
Inken Kuhlmann-Rhinow, marketing director, EMEA at HubSpot, added: “The reality is that consumers today don’t want to bend to the rules of business. They want what they want when they want, and they want it to be easy.”
Building a channel-less strategy
Kuhlmann-Rhinow went to explain that the key to a channel-less CRM strategy within a company is a unified set of relevant tools.
“Whether you want to go build an omnichannel strategy or a channel-less strategy, it all starts with integrated tools that can help you achieve a complete picture of your prospects and customers, regardless of channel,” she said.
Vasini, meanwhile, cited the use of a data platform that specialises in customer behaviour as a way to understand the customer better.
“You cannot build an experience unless you understand your customers in detail,” said Vasini. “This means you need to go beyond the information you would typically collect in a CRM.
“You need a customer data platform, which is a technology designed to gather data on customers, including transactional and first party data.”
Why data and customer experience are inseparable
Additionally, understanding the customer experience comes from testing out your customer interaction processes before they go live. Seeing things from the customer’s perspective provides ample opportunities to iron out any wrinkles that stand out.
A final point to make regarding building channel-less CRM is that automated emails should be avoided, keeping in mind the aforementioned importance of personalisation. Automation has been proven to benefit an array of customer-facing operations, but in this case, emails are not one of them.