I_in_omnichannelLet’s start with the following assertion: THE biggest strategic imperative for traditional consumer brands, including retail, telecommunications, cable, consumer goods, hospitality, healthcare, consumer banking and insurance, is to successfully execute on an omnichannel customer engagement strategy. Failure to do so will result in decreased market share, diminished brand equity or possibly intermediation.

With this assertion, we’ve established what many across consumer marketing circles would consider obvious. Omnichannel is beyond important. Companies stand to quickly lose the brand equity they have built up through significant investments in brand promotion, marketing, products and customer experiences.

So, what’s the problem? It’s not as if corporations don’t “get it”. Omnichannel as a concept receives significant airtime across boardrooms, analyst briefings and in 10-Qs.

The problem is that a lot of these corporations are missing, or failing to communicate, the real measuring stick for omnichannel success. Too many companies are hanging their omnichannel hats on outcomes that while accretive to the consumer experience and/or supply chain optimization are not necessarily barometers for the brass ring outcome for omnichannel.

This is where we arrive at the not-so-obvious “I” in omnichannel—identity. Establishing an omnichannel identity for customers of a brand is the brass ring of omnichannel.

Identity is a core set of attributes about the consumer that can be leveraged in real-time to drive a highly personalized experience across new channels, like mobile loyalty or discounting apps, and traditional channels such as point of sale or customer service.

The attributes, or identifiers, that comprise the omnichannel identity of a consumer can be categorized into three buckets:

  1. Security Identifiers
    These are the attributes required to ensure the end consumer can register, sign-on, and transact in a highly secure manner. Examples of security identifiers are login credentials, or the consumer’s phone number, used to issue a one-time password before accepting a transaction
  2. Inferred Identifiers
    Inferred identifiers are attributes that offer insights into the consumer derived through the act of centralizing, linking, and analyzing disparate sources of customer data. An example is master data management that reveals janeH = JaneHarrison=jHarrison, and her purchases suggest that Jane likes adventure and the outdoors.
  3. Asserted Identifiers
    Asserted identifiers are the attributes the consumer has explicitly shared about his or her likes, dislikes, and permissions. For example, the customer specifies preferences and choices such as “I like camping! Text is my preferred communication, but for location based coupons only.”

What is the measuring stick for omnichannel identity?

Adding identity and preference management to your omnichannel strategy will deliver key capabilities on two fronts, your customers and your business. That’s why measuring the effectiveness of your identity initiative should encompass both perspectives.

  • From the perspective of the consumer
    My permissions, preferences, and personal data must define me as an individual regardless of my journey across your products and services and regardless of the channel through which I choose to engage with your brand!
  • From the perspective of the corporation
    Application teams, point-of-sale and customer care systems have access to a common identity profile service (API access to the aforementioned security, inferred and asserted attributes) that empowers them to build next-generation customer experiences based off one common understanding of the consumer.

If your omnichannel strategy is not about achieving seamless, personalized experiences for your customers and a single customer view for your internal teams, then the strategic imperative is lost. Too many brands touting omnichannel are succumbing to the temptation to use omnichannel as a catch-all term for any new customer-facing initiative that leverages a non-traditional channel such as web, mobile and social. While such individual initiatives have the potential to significantly improve customer experience or streamline operations, they don’t necessarily contribute to acquiring the brass ring of omnichannel.

Customer identity and preference management holds the power to put the customer at the center of the omnichannel experience. It enables you to go beyond simply having a presence across multiple channels. It ensures that omnichannel truly delivers on its promise of fully integrated engagement.

Register for our upcoming Live Webinar: “Successful Customer Experiences are Identity-Centric”
Featuring Guest Speaker:
Sheryl Kingstone, Research Director, 451 Research
Tuesday, July 21 at 12pm CST