In this article, we introduce the multi-channel concepts and experiences. We discuss what exceptional multi-channel experiences mean to enterprises and organizations. In addition, we cover the key factors in achieving exceptional multi-channel web experiences.
What do exceptional multi-channel experiences mean to enterprises and organizations?
We often speak of multi-channel banking, multi-channel marketing, and multi-channel communication, but "multi-channel" defines more than just one single product or organization; multi-channel defines a complete approach.
Multi-channel literally means a “multitude of ways”. We now expect to have ubiquitous access to our data, and to seamlessly connect with all devices, in all scenarios. This also means that service providers may try to reach us through any channel. This makes the number of hypothetical connections so high it is impossible to count. We could say that you have a real multi-channel experience when the way you connect is never an issue.
It seems like a century ago when our work day consisted of arriving at our office, turning on our desktop PC, staying engaged in an 8-hour long working shift, then turning off our workstation, and going back home until the next day. Now the work and life barrier seems much more blurred. We are lost amidst a river of continuous transactions and interactions. We wake up in the morning, read the reports on our tablet, continue answering emails on our mobile phone on the train to the office, and, when we finally arrive to our office, we switch to our laptop. If it is a long-distance commute, we may start using our laptop on the train. When we return home, we may still have conference calls with people in other time zones, or mails to be answered. This is simply the world many of us live in. It happens for everything and affects every aspect of our life. Similarly the way we consume news has changed: we now browse news sites with a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet and we read, post comments and interact. In the past, we used to simply buy the newspaper. These changes are also happening with our connections and interactions with our bank, our government, and so on. We no longer just connect and interact with these entities in person, email, or traditional phone calls. In today's environment, we connect and interact with these entities through our mobile phone, tablets, and laptops.
This reality is here. As an enterprise organization we had better be ready for it. As users are increasingly flexible about how and when they connect, we need to offer consistent access and value through different platforms. Multi-channel is not only about compatibility -- offering the same bare-bones experience to each device is not a solution. We need to exploit the features and capabilities of the device. For example, on a mobile device, we should take advantage of its notifications and geolocalization services.On a desktop or a tablet, we should take advantage of the beautiful, large, and bright display.
IBM Web Experience Factory's automated tools for web application development are uniquely suited for multi-channel web application development by:
Automating the creation of smartphone-optimized applications, reducing or eliminating coding and speeding time to market.
Supporting your multi-channel strategy. Create once and run on multiple devices (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, iPad, etc.) in addition to PC browsers.
Leveraging all of IBM WEF's out-of-the-box features for quickly building exceptional web experiences.
Leveraging HTML5 for features such as geolocation and offline support.
Purpose of delivering exceptional web experiences
Exceptional multi-channel web experiences provide a web platform for end users (internal, external, and visitors) and help to meet the following objectives:
1. Retaining and enhancing existing customers.
2. Maintaining competitive advantage.
3. Attracting new customers.
Customers expect a web experience that is engaging
, and portable
Engaging - customers want to feel connected to your organization.
Relevant - an experience that is personalized, tailored to their interests and preferences. This is achieved using smart analytics.
Trustworthy - customers must feel safe while doing business with you. They should feel at home when connecting and interacting with your web applications.
Portable - an engaging, relevant, trustworthy experience regardless of the device being used.
Exceptional multi-channel web experiences means improving customer experiences across devices and enhancing platform scalability with the goal of increased profitability.
Ways to achieve exceptional multi-channel web experiences
"Exceptional multi-channel web experiences" based on a robust and extensible platform will delight customers, create a sustainable differentiation in your web experience and leverage the investments you made in it.
The following are some key points in achieving exceptional web experiences:
Make it context-aware. The best web experiences make users feel like it was custom fit for them, based on their preferences, device, location, social networks, and behaviors.
Make it interactive and social. Social is everywhere and everywhere is social. Organizations wanting to meaningfully interact with and listen to customers must transform their online experience beyond one-way information sharing or “brochure sites.” A more socially infused experience is now expected. Social experience includes one that supports true dialogue with and among customers.
Make it visual and flexible. It is important to provide a visual and flexible web experience. You do not need to compromise scalability, flexibility, and manageability to create a beautiful, persuasive, and responsive experience regardless of the device of choice.
Make it easy to integrate. Integration must be easy. Interactive, context-aware experiences must leverage and extend existing data sources such as CRM systems, social media sites, and back-end applications, as well as the products and cloud-based services you may acquire in the future. It should not require a huge effort to tie together the necessary foundational elements of exceptional web experiences.
Use measurement for competitive advantage. At a tactical level, success requires the use of analytics and other tools and measures to determine if you are meeting business objectives and properly engaging customers. At a more strategic level, analytics are also fundamental in gathering enough information about your customers to truly understand them, making it possible to deliver user-optimized web experiences.