January 02, 2009

Channel Differences

I recently read an article where the catalog marketing expert mentioned that customers who use the telephone to place orders are inherently "better" than online customers that purchase and do not visit again. The premise of the argument was to focus marketing efforts on telephone shoppers.

It is not uncommon for customers in different channels to have different motivations, and different levels of future value. When we attempt to break down silos and focus on "the customer", we harm our ability to think about the different needs of each customer. We need to get past this issue.

Customers using the telephone to place orders are often motivated by different needs. The telephone customer might need additional assistance. The telephone customer might want companionship. The telephone customer might feel unsure about buying a $300 item online, needing to ask numerous questions before pulling the trigger, while the online customer feels perfectly comfortable buying a $30 item on the website.

Analyze your customer data, and you're likely to notice that telephone customers purchase more items per order, and spend more per item than do self-service online buyers. This doesn't mean that phone customers are "better". Rather, they are "different". So treat them in a way that they want to be treated!

Many of you have children. Do you treat each child the same way? Is each child forced to wear the same clothing each day, or do you tailor the clothing to the unique needs of each child? Do you spend more time on homework assignments with one child, then spend more time at soccer practice with another child? You analyze the unique needs of each child, and then you tailor the experience for each child accordingly.

Why not do the same thing for your customers, across the many channels you now manage?