Asia can leapfrog US in cross-channel communication

Less legacy systems in Asia and proliferation of mobile devices means companies in the region can adopt more holistic approach to customer communications.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

With Asia less burdened by legacy communications systems and the proliferation of mobile devices compared with the United States, companies in the region have more potential to lead in cross-channel customer communications.

During a phone interview with ZDNet Asia, George Schlossnagle, CEO of Message Systems, said the Asian market's broad deployment of mobile technology gives companies in the region "lots of really interesting opportunities to leapfrog where the U.S. is today".

"If you look at the U.S. market, for better or for worse, there has been a tremendous amount of organic growth over the past 15 years or so in terms of [how to communicate with customers]," Schlossnagle said. His company provides an enterprise software and applications suite for businesses for cross-channel communications.

"The upside is that we've learned a tremendous amount out of that process. The downside of that is, in the U.S., you get a lot of entrenched [software] and people get stuck in a mindset that is pre-mobile," he said.

He added there was a "greater resonance" with companies in Asia to communicate with customers on the mobile.

"In Asia, no one really questions that everybody has a mobile or does their personal networking on mobile. In the U.S., I wouldn't say it's a universally accepted idea," he said.

Importance of cross-channel communication
For companies to have a positive relationship with customers, Schlossnagle said they need to have a holistic view of all the digital communication channel with customers, including, e-mail, mobile and social communication.

While most businesses have these channels in place, some of the departments work in silos, he said. Cross-channel communication is not the same as having a multi-channel communication where one department does e-mail communication while the other does social communication, he said.

Besides the "cultural change" required for the different departments, Schlossnagle said businesses will need the technology to coordinate all the channels together.

As customers are using different communication channels differently in real life, business need to do the same and use the method "that makes most sense for the time, content and preferences of the users", he said.

To use the right communication channel at the right time, Schlossnagle said businesses will need to ask customers for their preferred communication channel and observe which channels the customers are using.

With the right tools to analyze the data given by customers and the data gathered from observing customers, businesses can then have a customer profile which allows them to give relevant information when communicating with the customer using the most suitable channel.

He explained having a profile would help companies treat customers as persons rather than endpoints, such as just an email address or phone number.

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