Customer preference for multi-channel customer experience is transforming big business in the UK

British businesses struggle in quest for “holy grail of single customer view”, as the number of brand touch-points on a customer’s journey continue to grow.

More than two-thirds (69%) of UK businesses are just beginning to develop a multi-channel customer experience strategy, despite the increasing number of online and offline touch-points in a customer journey, according to research published today by Econsultancy and Foviance.

The new study finds that only 22% of companies have a well-developed multi-channel customer experience strategy in place, while nearly one in 10 companies (9%) admit to having no strategy in place at all. Organisational structure is cited as the greatest obstacle to change.

Companies recognise the importance of a multi-channel customer experience but are typically failing to adopt a strategy or framework to enable a single customer view. Survey respondents were asked how close their own organisations are to having a single view of the customer. A mere 32% of companies questioned claimed to have the integrated systems and processes required to give customers a joined-up experience.

This is despite the fact that almost half of company respondents (49%) say that a multi-channel customer experience is “very important” to their organisation, and a further 41% say it is “quite important”. More than two thirds of companies (68%) recognise a strong link between long-term business performance and customer experience, the research found.

The ‘Multi-channel Customer Experience Report’, published by Foviance and Econsultancy, is based on a survey of more than 500 companies and agencies. The research found that nine different online and offline touch points are relevant for at least half of the companies surveyed.

Linus Gregoriadis, research director at Econsultancy, comments: “It is clear that while the vast majority of companies understand the impact on business performance, very few organisations have integrated, cross-channel processes and systems in place, or a strategy to help them to achieve this.”

Paul Blunden, CEO of Foviance, adds: “The rise of social networks has put the power with customers and it has never been more important for organisations to create an environment where customers notice a positive difference. Customers are no longer prepared to accept that businesses are still learning and view their multi-channel interactions through a single lens, sharing their experiences widely and candidly.”

Gregoriadis added: “An increasing number of online and offline customer touch points are making it even more difficult for organisations to ensure a consistent cross-channel customer experience based on the holy grail of a single customer view.

“Companies are typically trying to integrate systems and adopt a customer-centric approach, but haven’t yet reached the stage where they have properly managed to harness these different processes in a way which allows for seamless cross-channel engagement.”

Respondents were asked to indicate the most significant barriers which prevent them from improving the multi-channel customer experience.

-The greatest barrier is organisational structure, which is one of the three greatest barriers for 41% of respondents.
-The next most significant issue is complexity of customer experience, cited as a major barrier by 38% of respondents.

According to the report, many organisations are lacking an individual or department to take responsibility for the customer experience within the business. For some companies, the problem is compounded by a lack of budget.

-More than a third of companies surveyed (38%) say that ownership of the multi-channel customer experience lies with a mixture of different departments, and less than a third of companies (31%) have a budget which is dedicated to improving the customer experience.
-More than a quarter of companies (28%) say there is no budget at allfor improving the customer experience, while a further 41% say that they use budget which was assigned for other things.

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