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The information that customers who use multiple channels are less satisfied is both interesting and a bit alarming. Most studies I have seen (and many marketers I have spoken with) have identified multi-channel buyers as their most valuable customers, thus keeping them loyal is important. I wonder if the dissatisfaction is a result of these customers having a higher level of expectation for consistent service and channel integration (your previous blog touched on this). On the one-hand, one would suspect a company might achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction because they are making it easy for customers to do business with them via the customers’ preferred channels. But perhaps, customers are disappointed by inconsistent treatment and lack of integration – which they expect when dealing with a single company or brand. In the end, they are less satisfied than those who only transact on one channel. I know I have personally been unhappy to receive an offer from a company I can only use in the store and not online. Or by companies who offer multiple products and services but insist on transferring me from department to department when I want to learn more. I’m sure we have all had experiences like this. It’s something visionary companies like Best Buy are tackling head on.

Proliferation is also something that has plagued marketers for years – we face growing competition, a dizzying array of media choices for reaching our customers, and expanding regulatory requirements. Many marketers have just gotten email and website optimization under their belts and now need to start thinking about whether they should be blogging, creating online communities, setting up RSS feeds, using “buzz” marketing or buying content wraps on the CW network. Even more interesting to consider are the effects of the “long tail.” Pareto’s rule is being turned on its head with the decreasing physical barriers to product distribution and marketing. For companies in electronic media (and other industries), no longer do they derive 80% of their revenues from the top 20% best selling products. Today, online bookstores and other media outlets are generating 50% of revenues from titles BELOW the top 130,000. This is an incredible phenomenon – meaning individuals can truly access unique products. It also means there are profitable markets for products that previously one would never consider worth distributing. It creates further challenges for complexity – and of course, tremendous opportunity for those that can capitalize on the “long tail.”

Don Peppers


I find it alarming, too, that multi-channel users tend NOT to be as satisfied as single-channel users. That's why it caught me up short and I called it to everyone's attention.

The book speculated that the main reason was there are many companies that are offering "multi-channel access" and they really aren't well enough integrated to do so flawlessly. I think that's a reasonable take.

I also think it's reasonable to assume that multi-channel users may be more demanding and have higher satisfaction standards, as a group. And there may be other explanations, who knows?

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