Consistent, quality customer service is hard to come by. How often do you walk away from an interaction with a brand thinking “Wow, that was simple!” More often, it's “Why does it have to be so hard?”

Research shows that 89 percent of customers stop doing business with a brand after a single poor customer experience. Think about that -- pretty sobering, no? And many times bad customer experiences can be laid at the door of a disjointed customer engagement strategy.

We've all heard that to provide a superior customer experience, organizations need to “think like the customer” and “be customer-centric.” But in speaking with lots of organizations, many are not thinking like the customer at all. Their focus remains internal. And they still organize marketing efforts by channel, e.g., via the email marketing department, the social department or the web guys.

So the question becomes:

If brands want to provide superior customer experiences, why still organize marketing by channel?

Organizing marketing by channel raises some pretty clear issues: little communication between departments; time-consuming manual processes; no ability to perform cross-channel attribution; lack of budget in emerging areas or channels; and so on.

Organizations are stuck in their channel ways for a number of reasons: change is difficult and slow to happen, and channels are often an easy and natural way to split departments up -- or at least they were in the beginning.

Climbing the “channel marketing campaign maturity model” -- from multichannel to cross-channel to true omnichannel -- is hard when siloed by channel. How do I move from multichannel (delivering messages over multiple channels) to cross-channel (delivering message sequences across marketing channels) to omnichannel (delivering message sequences across every marketing touch point with no channel preferences) if the organization doesn’t understand what’s going on from one channel group to another?

How do we solve this problem?

Break Down Channel Walls

Common sense, right? The first thing an organization does if it wants to thrive at managing an omnichannel customer experience is break down channel-based departments inside the organization. Anything else is a dated way of thinking and operating, and it just isn't efficient.

Learning Opportunities

A piece of marketing content these days will often be used across web, social and mobile channels -- yet businesses still re-create the content for every channel. Consolidate those processes into a centralized model to succeed.

Manage Toward the End, Not the Means

In the end it doesn’t matter what success rates your department or channel achieves if your customers still feel dissatisfied with their total experience. Organizations need to optimize the complete experience, not just the means or channels involved in getting to that outcome. Without this, organizations will never be able to manage the customer journey or experience across channels, devices and points in time.

This involves buy-in at the top, and the understanding that a channel mentality is a siloed mentality. It doesn’t matter how good your email marketing department’s open rates are if your customers are leaving left and right because of a poor overall customer experience.

Create a Central Point of Control

Just as the brain serves as the central point of control for the human body, brand-to-consumer communications need a “brain” as well. Imagine an organization where all channels fire requests to a decision hub and in turn receive the best directive based on analysis of all marketing data and served regardless of channel, device or point in time.

If businesses analyze all data from all channels and use it to deliver the best reply, channel walls effectively disappear. And consumers get a better, more consistent service reply or marketing offer.

If you are looking to get rid of the channel marketing blues at your organization, think about the three points above: breaking down channel walls, managing toward the outcome of the customer experience journey, and creating an analytically based decision making point of control. If you succeed with these three points, you should see an improvement in customer service and customer satisfaction.

Customer experience will soon become the only primary differentiator between brands, so take steps today to prepare your organization.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License title image by  Christopher.Michel