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Customer Engagement Helps Integrate Brick and Mortar and Web-based Marketing and Customer Support

July 23, 2013
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, cobrowsingtechnology Contributor

If your company has both an online presence and brick-and-mortar stores, it's likely that the pain of integrating the two is familiar to you. How do you ensure that customers are receiving a consistent experience regardless of whether they are logging onto your Web site or walking into your store? How to make sure that customers aren't seeing one price on the Web site or in an e-mail, only to encounter a higher price in the store? It's a tricky prospect, particularly when the wild card of customer behavior is introduced.

“One of the most complex and unpredictable data points is introduced – consumer behavior,” blogged Bronto Software's Jim Davidson recently for Multichannel Merchant. “Today’s plugged-in, tablet and smartphone-wielding consumers are constantly discovering and using new technologies and digital shopping tools to connect with your brand (and to your competitors) at every point of the purchase path. This creates opportunities and challenges for marketers – opportunities to engage with shoppers both online and in store, but also the challenge of determining the right tools and technologies your customers value, trust and use consistently.”

While ensuring that the store and the site are integrated may seem like a pain point accomplished at great expense only for customers' benefit, this simply isn't true. Many companies find a host of business benefits from a properly integrated on-site and off-site multichannel customer support structure. Ensuring that the physical locations and the Web presence are integrated will increase engagement, customer satisfaction and result in sales, but these efforts will not become a primary revenue source for your brand, writes Davidson.

Getting a proper customer engagement system that encompasses both brick and mortar stores and the Web site will likely be a process of trial and error. Tools that customers in other industries might love could very well be a bust among your customers. Conversely, by trying out different features, you might hit on one that is wildly popular with your customers.

“Inviting your customers to try fun new ways to shop your stores and then gather their feedback will provide you with more opportunities to engage them on many different levels while also finding out what works,” writes Davidson. It's essentially a way to get the right tools to your customers without wasting too much time or money.

For many companies, integrating an in-store presence with a Web presence may be the first time they optimize their content for mobile devices. In this case, building a robust customer engagement platform serves a dual purpose: it helps ensure a consistent customer service message both online and in stores, and it brings your company to customers on the mobile devices. Increasingly, this is where any company that hopes to remain in business needs to be.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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