Have you noticed when you go to a restaurant just how many people photograph their food before eating it? It might seem strange to diners not familiar with Instagram or Pinterest, but a lot of people now share images of their food with friends. In China it has become normal for restaurants to serve all courses together so better photographs can be taken – smart British restaurant owners should pay attention to trends like this when they have tourists in for dinner.
But sharing your dinner relies on the use of a visual channel. Imagine writing a 1,000-word blog that describes how your fish and chips looked and tasted. Not only would it take you an enormous amount of effort to create the story, who would spend the next ten minutes reading it? The channel used needs to match the type of communication.
I have been thinking a lot recently about this in the context of omnichannel communications with customers. As the number of communication channels started increasingly rapidly we talked about a multichannel environment. Then as companies tried harmonising the experience across all channels it became omnichannel – so contact and communication on any channel is equally good. I think we are now in an environment where opti-channel communication has to be considered.
Opti-channel means using the optimum communication channel depending on what it is that you want to communicate. The time, position within the customer journey, and type of communication all matter and need to be considered. Every channel has pros and cons as outlined in this article, which compares texting, email, and social channels.
There are practical reasons why a channel should or should not be used. Email should clearly not be used for a message that is highly time-critical as the message may sit in an in-box for a day before ever being read.
There are also more subtle differences in the channels that can influence which should be used. Perhaps the use of voice to call and welcome a new customer because it’s personal and friendly, but conversely the use of text by a company chasing debt. Getting an initial repayment request by text is far less embarrassing than getting a call precisely because it is less personal.
I’m going to think a little more about how opti-channel applies to the complete customer journey, but let me know if you have seen any good or bad examples of channel choice where this kind of analysis might have helped.
Photo by Shutter Fotos licensed under Creative Commons.