Appropriate channel management

Is channel shift the way to go?  For years now we have been obsessed which moving customer traffic from one channel to another.  Cost has been the driver.  Move your customers from the most expensive channels to lower cost ones, face to face, then telephone and then online.

Clever people have worked out the transactional cost for each channel.  With so many variables I am not sure how they do that but let’s run with it.  Face to face is by far the most expensive.  Or is it?

The most expensive channel is one that provides bad service and loses customers.  The best channel is the one that provides effective customer service and grows the business, assuming that is your objective.  Of course the lowest cost channel is no service it all.  That is where we go wrong.

Channel shift should not be about cost but about service.  We should not aim to move customers to channels for the sake of it but rather towards appropriate service.  We should shift customers to the most appropriate channel, the one that provides the highest quality of service at the lowest cost.

This may be online, maybe by the telephone and maybe through face to face.  It could be that the most expensive form provides the lowest overall channel cost.

Interaction with the customer should be about added value.  They should be seen as opportunities and not overheads.  Service provision should be intuitive and relevant to the customer’s needs.  The truth is that if the service is good enough then the customer will shift the channel themselves.

We need to do away with the term channel shift and replace it with something more appropriate.  It is too manipulative.  It suggests that somehow the provider has the upper hand in the relationship.  They can tell the customers what to do yet in the end it is the customer that is always right.

How about something along the lines of appropriate channel management?

I will never get a job in marketing!

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