Omni-Channel and how those Book Guys are at it again! Dave Ogden, Dave Ogden of Capstone discusses how Amazon encompasses the Omni Channel which is in fact Multi Channel done well!
A little over 20 years ago, Jeff Bezos opened his virtual doors to the world, he’d picked books as his route to market and his ‘store’ was called Amazon.
The name was supposed to sound “exotic and different” and the logo we all now recognise came into being in the year 2000, with the arrow pointing from the ‘A’ to the ‘z’ in the name to signify that they’d offer everything from A to Z. They’ve certainly held to their promise as they’re now probably the world’s largest providers of cloud computing services, they’re 1 of 2 major video streaming providers and having started offering Amazon Pantry in November 2015, they’re now even delivering our food to us as well.
We’re now so used to buying things from them that on Cyber Monday (30th November 2015) they were reportedly making around 86 sales per second.
They’re such a household name that it doesn’t really seem odd that a company barely 20 years old who started selling books are now delivering the food we’re eating, whilst streaming our favourite film on a TV we bought from them, whilst checking what next to buy on the tablet they made.
Why does this matter?
I think it’s a highly relevant example of how a business which adapts to market conditions, which doesn’t try to force their agenda on its customers and makes doing business with as easy as possible are able to succeed and grow, in spite of the toughest market conditions seen since the 1920’s.
We all know and have heard for several years now about ‘Omni Channel Customer Experience’. It’s not a new concept, it’s been around since the early 2000’s but back then it was called multi-channel.
In its most simple form, Omni Channel is Multi Channel done well/properly with a consistent experience no matter how the interaction is conducted. A true Omni Channel experience isn’t technology driven, like most vendors would have you believe; but technology enables the processes to support it. This is one of the things Amazon do very well; the way you should approach Omni Channel is to put the customer at the heart of the business, around that you build the processes needed to support what they want, how they want it and when they want it and then the technology wraps around to enable those things to happen.
Simply purchasing a new technology “solution” without knowing what it is you needed in the 1st place isn’t going to solve anything; it may alleviate some residual pain of having bought different point solutions over time, but overall customer satisfaction won’t increase much. You also have consider that this is not a technology / IT lead change, your front line staff, meaning the call centre advisors and team leaders are the ones who really understand customers the most. Their knowledge is critical and should be fully leveraged, making this a business or operational lead project. You should also seriously consider calling in industry consultants to help ask the right questions to guide and shape the process for you.
Change is not easy and typically not cheap, however it does not have to be introduced in a single phase. Build out the vision and then review which elements are either quick wins, the low hanging fruit so to speak, or the things which will add most to the customer experience. The end goal should always remain the same and the approach to building this should not change, it just isn’t a 1 step process and more of a journey to achieve.
Whilst the high street has seen the most change due to internet shopping, they’ve also made the greatest strides. Without mentioning any particular brands here, the advent of click and collect, internet orders being able to be returned to a store, delivery to your home, your local store or more recently, drop boxes and product reviews driving customer buying behaviour, these changes are beginning to blend the lines between online and a traditional shopping experience.
The main hurdle that some retailers have yet to overcome is providing a consistent experience across whatever channel the customer chooses to use. A good example here is around customer retention, where those in a contact centre seem to have greater autonomy in offering the customer what they want than should they go into a high street shop.
It’s hard to stress the importance of getting the strategy both started and right, the high street has had the most causalities here and they’re well documented. Their failure was a result of not being able to make the change customers wanted fast enough.
With Amazon Pantry having been launched and the aggressive way in which they normally grow into a new sector, Ocado have seen a significant drop in their share price this week and that’s likely to continue. Every industry and business should take note of how quickly the landscape can change and review whether they truly are aligned to what their customers want.
If you’re not sure or are uncertain, then it’s time to bring in some external support to help suggest changes to keep the business headed in the right direction.
Dave Ogden has worked in the contact centre industry for the past 18 years, in positions across operations, marketing and IT.
Having initially performed a number of IT based roles; he held positions within Marketing and Management Information developing and improving value streams. After which he joined a major UK bank where he devised the operational technology strategy, lead the team who managed the data and dialer and assisted in the creation of new contact centres, and helped grow the department into the largest outbound financial services centre for sales in the UK with over 450 FTE.
In 2011 he joined a contact centre solution provider and has been helping businesses improve their contact strategies and operational efficiencies, written many industry articles focussed on improving the customer experience, the rise of social media and improving debt collection strategies and consulted in some of Europe’s largest contact centres.
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