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The omni-channel experience and its true definition

The omni-channel experience is a relatively new marketing term that quickly reached buzzword status. Already in that first sentence there are a number of problems that make omni-channel something quite difficult for brands to get right; which is quite troubling as the core of the omni-channel experience is not a new concept.

The omni-channel experience has been around since we first started promoting goods and services; but for some reason the race to digital migration has confused the issue.

What is the omni-channel experience?

At its very core, the omni-channel experience is about ensuring that no matter where a customer or prospect interacts with your brand, they are experiencing the brand in the same way.

The crux of that sentence can be summed up in three words: experience the brand.

The omni-channel experience is not about marketing or operations or technology or human resources. It is all of these things. The omni-channel experience is the sum of the parts. Each of the businesses individual parts need to come together to gel in such a way that they are able to deliver the same experience no matter the platform. It cannot be siloed as a departmental problem. It is an organisational one; it is a brand experience problem.

This is the language that the board can understand. When the experience is different physically or digitally, it affects the organisations brand.

Omni-channel in a silo

I submit to the fact that there is an argument that places the omni-channel experience in the realm of marketing more than anywhere else. But I counter with the fact that marketing is only the front end view of a far wider reaching organisational problem. Technology needs to support and architect the marketing solution while operations need to ensure that they can deliver on the promises that marketing is making.

The omni-channel experience is far more than ensuring that the brands website can resolve on a desktop; tablet and a mobile. It is about the brand experience beyond the visual. As soon as we move past the visual we touch the rest of the business that impacts on how marketing delivers.

This is where a number of brands get it wrong. As digital transformation is a board level issue; so is the omni-channel experience.

Making it tangible

I often think about marketing campaigns that are incredibly well targeted and orchestrated. The mobile marketing and content experience is slick and well delivered. No matter where you experience the brand; the delivery of the message and the campaign construction is virtually perfect. In this sense, the omni-channel experience is spot on.

That is where most brands stop; either because omni-channel lives with marketing, or because they feel they have cracked the problem.

This is where it starts to unravel.

Here is where your audience really starts to interact and experience your brand. As soon as they hit the “buy” button very often the realm of marketing is forgotten and operations takes over.

Here is arguably where your brand becomes the most real and vulnerable. This is the part that people remember. This is the part that people talk about. The part where you have their money and there is nothing they can do about it. This is the omni0channel experience.

It is the handover points. Where marketing gives way to sales; who give way to operations who give way to finance. These are the chasms that destroy your pristine omni-channel experience.
Every board needs to be concerned with what happens between their divisions as much as they are concerned with the divisions themselves.

Feature image: Alice Achterhof via Unsplash

Author | Jonathan Houston

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan is passionate about digital strategy and the convergence of technology and marketing. As the General Manager for HKLM; a strategic brand and communications agency; Jonathan's work includes strategy creation, aligning brand strategy; customer and technology to fulfil an organisation-wide brand-led objective. In 2013 Jonathan’s first book “Internet Marketing... More

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