When did Multi-Channel start to mean Mobile?

Despite the increasing number of channels available for connecting with customers, conversations about multi-channel communications seem to be getting narrower instead of broader. Some combinations of 3 out of the 12 high-level categories I can come up with off the top of my head tend to be discussed. These days, discussions that are simply about mobile (or Mobile, Local, Social) get dubbed “multi-channel.”

For example, in Bank Systems & Technologies year end wrap up of the “Top Multi-Channel Stories of 2012,” 4 out of 5 stories are about mobile as a channel. Kudos to them for also including a story on bank branches – but that story also works in a reference to mobile:

“Many predict a “smart” ATM terminal that will do more than just dispense cash… No bank card? Forgot your password? No problem — this ATM terminal recognizes you through facial recognition biometrics with your NFC-enabled phone.”

I’m not saying that mobile isn’t exciting; phones and tablets present tremendous new opportunities for customer communications, operations and sales channels. However, there are other channels that need to be maintained, transformed, expanded maybe even connected to mobile technologies. Let’s start some discussions about how to look across all channels (omni-channel) to optimize communications and processes in light of the many new and exciting channels that are available. The old ones aren’t going away very soon so any business that is ready to embrace multi-channel is going to be spending a lot more money if they don’t carefully consider it in light of the other platforms that must be maintained.

Here’s a starting point for an “omni-channel” communications strategy.

  • Direct Mail
  • E-mail
  • Social Media
  • Mobile
  • On-statement messaging
  • Statement inserts
  • Website
  • Call center
  • Branch (or retail store or other business site)
  • Web advertising
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Bill boards
  • Print Advertising

What else would you add?

Elizabeth Gooding

Elizabeth Gooding is the editor of the Insight Forums blog and president of Gooding Communications Group

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