Omni-channel is the trees. Customers are the forest.


My buddy Ed Siok and a prototype from an IoT hackathon

Recently, my colleagues and I were preparing to address a roomful of marketers and communicators on mental readjustments needed to win in the shifting business landscape.

That included breaking down walls between business functions and physically removing walls from workplaces — so that communication and concepts could flow across the open office.

Those ideas were about removing walls inside your organization. But it felt like there were even bigger insights outside the office.

Customers are dismantling walls that have long been a part of our marketing and communications frameworks: Customer Channels.

I’m not sure those channels are the right way to think about it anymore.

Reaching our customers in terms of several interconnected “omni-channel” strategies is harder to plan for than it is to think of a single strategy for reaching customer personas. We’ve crossed that bridge.

Omni-channel is the trees. Customers are the forest.

Personas become the new “channels,” and touchpoints become the new strategies: The basis of competition is winning the touchpoints.

That involves great user design through a variety of tools our customers already use – already depend on – to navigate and improve their daily life: Internet of Things, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Data Visualization, Mobile, and new services such as SnapChat. Oh, yes: And online and traditional media.

In the last year or two, our work at Slalom consulting helped a national mall operator think about using augmented reality to create a digital overlay for their physical space, showed how virtual reality has been considered as a way to reach a new generation of employee trainees at a national insurer, and how push notifications and social media presence can be the difference between creating a detractor and a promoter.

My takeaway from those client adventures was this:

Meet customers where they already are, instead of trying to build channels where you hope they’ll go – if you build it, they won’t come.

But if you engage genuinely where customers are already comfortable, they’ll welcome you as a neighbor.

– James Janega



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