The place where the Customer counts

Free thoughts on CRM, Business and the next big thing

The place where the Customer counts - Free thoughts on CRM, Business and the next big thing

The Multi and Cross Channel Debate in Customer Service

Nice photo, isn’t it? Ok, no more jokes and let’s talk about a very interesting debate between Esteban Kolsky and Wim Rampen about the importance of a multi channel interaction / service management and a cross channel customer experience. I invite you to have a look at their posts and, even if I’m one of the worldwide greatest fan of Esteban, I’ve to tell you that I think he’s too much “challenging” with his vision of a “monolithic” channel service infrastructure.

I surely agree with the fact that most companies are more worried about the “being there cause everyone’s there” problem than by a reasonable strategic vision that considers which touchpoints your customers prefer to use in order to keep in touch with you.

I surely agree with the fact that lots of people is still using traditional channels more than social ones to interact with companies.

But I also think that is undoubted that:

  • we are more and more reconsidering the way we (and younger people) interact each other
  • the adoption of different channels depends on context (position, specific level of criticality of your problem, etc.)
  • the share of communication/interaction technology in the Contact Centre cost structure is really kept down
  • even Collaborative CRM vendors (like Genesys) are delivering enabling technologies which support CSRs in considering different interactions through different channels, coming from the same customer, as a unique conversation if related to the same case

So, in my opinion, even if managing a unique interaction channel is more easy and inexpensive for a company, maybe is also shortsighted and unrealistic denying that not considering a multi-channel strategy can have negative effects on relations with your customers.

Everything depends on a concrete analysis on which channels a company must focus on (cause they are worth it), together with a deep intervention on people’s training and a process re-design that really support cross-channel interactions without causing dangerous experience gaps (a transversal dilemma and maybe the main fundamental value perceived when evaluating a company customer service).

What do you think?


  • Frederic GILBERT says:

    Hi Andrea, I can’t agree more on your observation. I have observed that one of the reasons why it is a hard task is that we are talking to 2 different mindsets and backgrounds. I think that Crosschannel & Experience Management are the encountering of traditionnal marketing and digital with different approaches on how they interact with one other. It all comes down to understanding and demonstrating the value of working together for the interest of the people inside and of course for the customer eventually. Hence the people that govern the marketing & sales department are more senior and educated in a traditionnal approach on how to address the market. As they have the power to unleash or not the real initiatives, when you have in front of you a sceptic or someone who believes that he needs to control everything to prove his use, it’s hard to leverage and achieve this synergy. I think I’ll prepare a post on this one! Thanks for your insight!

  • Esteban Kolsky says:


    I have never, including now, said that it should be a single channel for customer service. If you go back and read all my posts, as far back as early 1990s, I have been the most staunch advocate for multi-channel (and now cross-channel, multi- is so “passe”) implementations for customer service.

    I still believe that this is the case, even though in special cases organizations can thrive on single-channel, multi-channel (and now cross-channel) remains the way to go.

    There are many elements of supporting multiple channels i believe in more firmly than most people who read and commented on my posts: it is OK to make a strategic decision to NOT serve a specific channel, as long as you communicate that. Ibid with outsourcing them, but needs to be known before the phone rings. And there are more morsels of wisdom I continue to espouse on multi-channel.

    I am not naive enough to think this is not the case; both organizations and customers want multiple channels. There is a line towards the end of my post, right after i list the reasons for developing single-channel excellence, that I think most people who read the title are missing. It says:

    Excellence in a single-channel, once achieved and maintained, can then be extrapolated and leveraged into other channels.

    In short, it says that once an organization developed a good understanding of how it can serve its clients, channels become irrelevant and are artificial means to connect with customers. In retrospective, I should’ve spent more time on that part, maybe it would’ve been clear (then again, a very large number of people read the title and assumed I meant that a single channel was the ONLY solution I was proposing – thanks to Twitter we have lost the capability of reading, are now focused on 140 characters of “wisdom” at the time).

    The bottom line is that I would like organizations to be able to crawl before they can run, and most of them cannot do that yet. They jump into every conceivable new channel to reinvent the way they do customer service.

    Twitter is here? let’s staff it with 100 people, give them 200 tools to monitor, report, manage, use, and analyze to death meaningless statistics about it. Let’s advertise we are the largest twitter customer service in the planet, let’s publish the success stories and show customers how lucky they are that we get it… We are on Twitter — yay!

    What? how much does it cost? how many cases we solved? how does it compare to other channels? how effective is it? how good of a job we are doing? are customers getting what they need? how do we apply existing business rules to it? how do we reward loyal customers? and many more of the questions they need to ask are not being asked — but WE ARE ON TWITTER! YAY FOR US!

    We had the same debate before, many times. When email first began to be used for CS, we had the same debate. Chat? same. SMS? same – you get the idea. My point is, in every instance the people who got it, who figured out the value, who understood what needed to be done were those that had an excellent CS department, treated the new channels as — well new channels, and could answer the questions about purpose, delivery, and results.

    I believe it is time for the new generation to understand and embrace that, and a return to single-channel excellence is the best way to achieve that.

    I stand by my previous statement: I make a case for single channel excellence as an initial step; leverage the lessons learned to build an excellent cross-channel solution.

    (this same answer, or book, has been posted in all the posts that refer mine and that are discussing this)

    • CustomerKing says:

      Hello Esteban. Nothing to say about your position: it’s clear and I really agree with your concern about lack of a strategic vision when companies have to choose the set of channels needed to have a good interaction with their customers, possibly starting from the ones they like best for different reasons (as I said in the post). And I agree with your concerns about the lack of reasonable questions each company must ask itself – before take the money from the wallet -in terms of costs, scalability, coherence with a service objective from a customer perspective, etc. But I also think that if you can reach excellence with one single channel you just start with a specific mindset that can let you implement right from the beginning a multi-channel offering; the others unforntunately keep on with a “trial and error” approach.

      P.S.: I was sure that you were provoking with your post and this is one of the reasons you’re a CRM idol of mine :)