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  |  January 6, 2012   |  Comments

Three design principles for multichannel experiences.

Most brands are caught in a vicious cycle when it comes to onboarding new channels into their customer service ecosystem.

Let's think on how this whole thing got started: take a website, add dynamic content and personalization to it, add e-commerce, make it SEO (because otherwise they won't find you), then make it mobile (add Facebook and other social platforms, add a blog to it, Twitter account, YouTube channel, IVR, or support for content aggregators, like Flipboard, etc.).

You're always starting from scratch: you pay somebody to do something, find a quick fix to it so the empty checkbox can be checked, and wait for the next channel to show up (it will show up). From a budget perspective, it's also a never-ending expensive story in which companies have to assign more money at a point to develop and maintain these incremental channels.

Besides the point that these added channels also bring an incremental complexity for customers and there should be some strategy in place for this process, the truth is there is rarely any core IT services prepared for it and there is no easy way to get this new channel to effectively interact with all the other existing channels.

This is fundamentally an IT and enterprise architecture problem, but we all need to be aware of it and understand how to make it better. At a point, businesses need to stop and rethink their platforms.

Mobile has been a key channel in exposing how web-focused all services and pieces of software were and we are now starting to see how mobile has influenced a new wave of IT re-platforming.

When it comes to re-platforming, consider these three interrelated design principles:

  1. Presentation agnostic
  2. Distributed content
  3. Contextual intelligence

Now let me elaborate on what they mean and how they relate to each other:

Presentation agnostic means having all pieces of content and functionalities ready to be manifested across different channels with little to no rework. Think web, IVR, mobile, kiosk, POS, etc. While doing this, also capture requirements to ensure consistency and seamless experiences across all channels, which is the key for being prepared for the constant evolution of multichannel.

Distributed content is related to the concept of presentation agnostic and it's all about having the content and functionalities prepared to be rendered outside the traditionally controlled web channel. The content will be aggregated from third-party applications and websites, it will be featured, shared, and amplified in the social space, and to do this efficiently it's important to ensure the readiness and controlled consistency of the content when ported across different outlets.

Contextual intelligence is about creating a functional layer that ensures that additional customer information is captured and processed accordingly to deliver a meaningful customer experience (think location-based services information for example). This design principle will factor all the data points into a context-driven dialog including the incremental customer insights gathered through the experience.

It's essential for everyone to think outside the browser-based websites. These design principles can help guide the transformation and drive the business results customers are already expecting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gabe Bertot

Up until March 2012, Gabe Bertot was a mobile and multichannel leader at Moxie Interactive. Gabe holds a bachelor's degree in industrial design from the University of Havana, Cuba.

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