Reasons for Multi-Channel Integration? Take Your Pick

Loraine Lawson
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Top Ten Best Practices for Data Integration

Use these guidelines to help you achieve more modern, high-value and diverse uses of DI tools and techniques.

I once worked at a small video store in a small town. The owner was my dad's best friend from high school, a true entrepreneur who owned multiple businesses and had made his first small fortune by turning water into ice. I know-wish you'd thought of it, don't you?

 

One night, a customer pulled up as we were closing, and by closing, I mean we were locking the doors and ready to jump into our cars to go home. So, we told the customer we were closed and they went away.

 

The next day, the shift supervisor got a tongue-lashing from the owner, who told us as long as there was a customer in the parking lot with a dollar in his pocket, we most certainly were NOT closed. I learned an important lesson about customer service that day-and needless to say, in this age of global companies and call centers, I've been deeply disappointed many times by companies that failed to even come close to my first boss' standard of customer service.

 


What's really frustrating is that most of these issues could be solved by better integration. So much so, it's not hard to establish a business case and ROI for multi-channel integration, according to this recent CIO UK article. Take your pick:

  • Better customer retention
  • More opportunities to upsell and cross-sell
  • Ability to track marketing message effectiveness
  • Reduced data storage requirements
  • Ability to cope with disasters

 

And then there's my favorite: reducing "customer churn," which is when customers are bounced from department to department because no one person can see their complete record. After all, customer service issues are no joke-the article cites a 2009 survey showing that 73 percent of consumers have severed ties to a business because of poor customer service. And these reasons are just if you're considering the standard, retail-based reasons. The article points out that multi-channel integration is also emerging as an issue in other industries, including health care.

 

Largely, this article is a collection of examples that show how companies have integrated not just CRM and websites, but CRM, websites, phone systems, mobile systems and so on. If you're still focused on e-commerce integration, you're already behind-and losing business to competitors, it seems.

 

One example that I found particularly interesting was Klinikum Wels, which is Austria's fifth largest hospital. It is using an archival system based on the Hitachi Data Systems Content Platform to pull in data from various silos. It doesn't plan to just archive the information, though-the end goal is to obtain a whole layer of metadata and to use the system as a centralized patient repository for the hospital medical staff.

 

Certainly, multi-channel integration seems to be working for some companies. UK department store chain John Lewis credits its multi-channel strategy as a major reason for a 24.2 percent sales increase during 2009, and continues to report robust sales this year.



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