Multichannel … Omnichannel … it’s time to brush up on some of these marketing terms we’ve been hearing for years—and to an extent may already have in place.
This is because of the CFPB’s recently released updates to the FDCPA that “Clarifies that newer communication technologies, such as emails and text messages, may be used in debt collection, with certain limitations to protect consumer privacy and to protect consumers from harassment or abuse, false or misleading representations, or unfair practices.”
Basically, multichannel refers to using phone, e-mail, letters, SMS texting, social media, and a range of other tools, or channels, to reach consumers. Omnichannel means very much the same—but with the additional note that all of these efforts be tightly integrated so that a conversation begun on one, can be continued on the other—without having to start all over again, to the great frustration of consumer and agent. Omnichannel also encompasses the ability for two-way communication, including acceptance of payments—something essential in the world of ARM.
Actually, I think a better term would have been integrated multichannel communication, but that cake has been cut, that ship has sailed. So . . . omnichannel it is.
Why this Really Matters
Within the world of ARM, omnichannel communication is extremely important, and bound to become ever more so. The reason for this was perfectly captured in a line from a Wall Street Journal piece that read: “Your business might not be omnichannel, but your customers are.” That’s a reminder to all of us about the shifting tectonic plates we’ve all experienced, and continue to experience, in regards to communications—in large part due to the advent of the iPhone and Android. Consumers are becoming particular in how and when they choose to communicate—with each other, and with businesses.
Here’s how The Future of Commerce describes it:
“Today’s consumer will script their own journeys across the multiple channels and touchpoints, and every one of them matters. Forcing a customer to stick to a single channel or making them start at the beginning when switching channels creates friction and impacts the customer’s experience.”
And the customer experience is more important than ever. Deloitte reports “A good interaction keeps you happy and satisfied, while a poor interaction could lead you to stop doing business with that company again. It’s because of these extremes that 88% of companies now prioritize customer experience in their contact centers.”
Yet Gartner research, released just two months ago, found that “50% of brands will have failed to unify customer engagement channels by 2022.”
A Great Opportunity for ARM
So, here we are, early in a new year, with the CFPB officially recognizing the modern landscape of communication, and allowing the ARM industry to take respectful advantage of this diverse set of tools.
Done improperly, consumers will howl, and in a worst-case scenario, the CFPB could revisit the question.
But done well … a whole new world opens up for those of us working in ARM, and the consumers we serve.
Omnichannel communication allows consumers to guide the path of interactions, and well-trained and intuitive agents will be able to maximize the value of their efforts by making good use of the consumer’s preferred channel or channels. Again, the well-integrated element of omnichannel communication requires that a conversation that begins on one channel can be seamlessly continued on another.
A robust technology platform will be required to support seamlessly integrated omnichannel experiences. And ARM agents should be trained, when needed, on the best way to use this new set of tools. Done right, omnichannel communication should prove to be a significant boost to our efforts in managing account receivables.
Matt leads all revenue generating teams and programs for Katabat. With 2 successful exits, he has over 15 years of experience growing b2b software companies and leading sales, marketing, customer success and partnership programs.