Is Omnichannel Content the Next Frontier of Customer Service?

As we reported on Tuesday, a proliferating user base of smartphone-toting brick and mortar shoppers has been identified in the ever-accelerating population of mobile consumers. People aren’t just making purchases online. They’re price comparing, scoping product features, and scanning QR codes in traditional retail outlets. The smartphone or tablet plays a role in the experience, but it is not always the role retailers have come to anticipate from the mobile landscape.

Our hyper-digitized consumer environment demands a rethinking of how brands of all kinds (not just e-commerce) strategize, create, and deliver content across several channels. From the storefront to the catalogue, tablet device and desktop computer, brands must now offer a consistent user experience.

Enter the “omnichannel” content shift. An omnichannel approach to content delivery can accommodate the increasing number of consumers that move rapidly from channel to channel, and make for some very sweet workflow narratives. Interacting with users from two or three unique marketing subsets simply won’t cut it anymore. Users want a memorable orchestration of data that can be picked up from the channel of their choice.

Here’s an example: A printed catalogue from a clothing retailer is mailed to your house, prompting a visit to its brick and mortar establishment. You first price check an item from the catalogue from home on your desktop computer, browsing under your personal login for that retailer.

Then, you drive to the storefront to try on the item you had browsed online. In the store, you receive a text message from the retailer, alerting you to an in-store discount based on the item you had viewed earlier online. You compare the new discounted price on an item with a competitor retailer’s price via your smart phone. The price with the discount wins. You make your purchase and head home, planning to thank the retailer on its Facebook Page.

Every interaction – or “touch point” – with the retailer is coordinated and consistent. This is omnichannel content.

It works for brands in these ways:

1. It communicates accurate and consistent business messages and information. For example, for a brand that implements omnichannel content strategy, the details of a product in its printed catalogue do not contradict in- store or website information about the same product. Details like these increase brand authority, while making the browsing experience breezy and dependable for the user.

2. It possesses a narrative “voice” that establishes a consistent tone across the channels.

3. It accommodates customers’ needs based on a strong understanding of the functions of every touch point and the context that brought them there.

4. It maintains an intentional presence. There is no piece of content in the whole experience of interaction with the brand’s touch points that does not serve a purpose for the user.

Omnichannel content should also track customer data across the channels, as the clothing retailer did in my example scenario. As Forbes contributor Lisa Arthur says, customers “expect you to be able to manage and integrate all their big data so you can provide them with an immersive experience, regardless of the channel where they found you.”

Some savvy corporations have a head start on the shift. In June this year, Cisco announced its Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail Banking, a development for virtual face-to-face meetings via video chat between customers and banking advisers. It’s a strategy that addresses the consumer demand for “financial advice and banking services through both virtual and physical channels … providing customers with services most convenient and personalized to their needs.”

Getting back to our evolving mobile retail environment: the omnichannel content shift requires some mobile marketing repurposing, as consumers look beyond two-channel interactions with brands. Additionally, to genuinely synthesize a brand’s content across all channels, its web and traditional marketing departments will need to join forces to coordinate content quality.

Omnichannel content and marketing super-groups: the next frontier of customer service?