Conquering Channel Chaos


Conquering Channel Chaos

By Elaine Cascio, Vice President  |  April 29, 2013

Faced as we are with a wealth of customer communications channels, it’s very easy for them to get away from us. For many of us, it’s time to take a deep breath and get control of channel chaos. Here are a few tips to help you connect better with your customers across – and between –channels.

Understand your customers or customer segments and what channels they prefer.

We all assume that younger customers prefer self-service channels and older ones prefer speaking with an agent, but that’s not always the case. Look beyond age to understand both channel use and channel preferences for your different customer segments. Companies segment customers in many different ways – by demographics, customer value, where they are in the relationship lifecycle, or a combination of factors.

Lifecycle mapping helps us to look at specific customer segments and how we can be improving the customer experience for them. And developing user profiles lets us test how effective channels are for them at key moments of truth. Most importantly, talk to your customers to identify preferred channels.

Have a multi-channel strategy to leverage the strengths of each channel. A key driver in conquering channel chaos is a clear and aligned multi-channel strategy. A multi-channel strategy provides a framework for making channel decisions. It enables us to optimize use of all channels based on a strategy that ties back to corporate vision and goals.

Understand the strengths of each channel and what’s appropriate on a channel-by-channel basis. Don’t feel that you need to offer every possible application in every channel. A retirement projection application that works brilliantly online or as a mobile app is tedious and frustrating using voice self service. That’s because it’s an application that lends itself to a visual interface.

Eliminate the need to channel hop – or provide it seamlessly. There’s nothing more irritating than starting a transaction on the web and reaching a dead end – then switching to another channel and having to start from scratch. This is one of your customers’ biggest frustrations with channel chaos. 

Customers should be able to complete their business on their channel of choice. I realize that may not always be possible – so we must make transitioning between channels as seamless and effortless as possible. One key is understanding what occurred on other channels so that you’re not asking a customer to repeat a task multiple times. Another key is making the cross-channel customer experience natural and easy. This can be as simple as moving from an IVR to an agent where the agent knows who you are and what you were doing in the IVR and can pick up the ball. Multimodal capabilities also support transitioning between channels in ways that eliminate any effort on the customer’s part.

Make the customer experience consistent across channels. Although you won’t have identical applications across channels, and there will be variations in voice and data channels, be consistent in how information is presented and processed, branding and the tone of the user interface. Most importantly, make sure that data is consistent across channels.

Good luck conquering your channel chaos. Your customers will thank you for it.


Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (, a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology. 

Elaine Cascio is a vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp. (, a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self service, contact center processes, operations and technology.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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