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UK brands' channel integration strategies fall short of EU counterparts - study

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15th Mar 2012
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UK brands are lagging behind their European counterparts when it comes to the sophistication of their channel integration, according to new research.

Pitney Bowes Software surveyed 250 CMOs in large B2C organisations in the UK, France and Germany and found that customers are being lost through fragmented and inconsistent communications and failure to integrate marketing channels.

Although 90% of respondents recognise the need to integrate their customer communication channels, less than a third has done so. Of the remaining 10% that have no plans to integrate their channels, 23 of the 25 companies are UK based, said the study.

According to the report, barriers to achieving channel integration include the recent explosion in channel growth, a lack of strategy, concern over channel security, inability to be consistent across channels and fear of confusing customers.

The survey showed that although the UK has less of an issue with speaking to customers, UK organisations find it difficult to talk about the right thing with inappropriate offers or promotions (31%) and perceived lack of understanding (29%). According to the findings, the report suggests that the issue of customer engagement is less prevalent in Germany where 26% of companies feel that fragmented customer ownership is the main problem during customer on-boarding, with mass targeting mentioned by 19% of companies compared to 33% in France and 27% in the UK.

Additionally, the report revealed that brands do not have the appropriate systems and processes in place to fully exploit the inbound channel for marketing purposes. Nearly half of French companies (49%) used scripts to manage these conversations, as compared with Germany (33%) and UK (25%). Just 9%, overall, use more sophisticated systems that deliver onscreen prompts based on predictive analytics. Germany leads the way with 14%, followed by the UK (11%) and France with only 2%, according to the report.

The report showed that almost all respondents (94%) believe in the merits of multichannel marketing and rate its capacity to ‘save time and money’ as the key benefit. According to the figures, Germany was the most enthusiastic (62%), followed by France (46%) and UK (34%). France was the least sophisticated when it came to multichannel marketing with three quarters (74%) still using single channels, as compared to Germany (60%) and the UK (49%),

Gary Roberts from Pitney Bowes Software said: “In this information age, customers expect to be understood by their suppliers. To avoid losing customers UK companies need to get up to speed with their European counterparts and change their approach to integrating their customer channels. Unless companies develop consistent cross-channel communications, their ability to develop profitable, long-term relationships will be seriously impacted.”

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