Whether companies are willing to admit it or not, their customers are not willing to engage and interact with their brand in one channel and one channel only. Nor do customers’ expectations of your brand promise stay tied to a single channel. The customer has needs and wants that transcend a solitary customer engagement channel and, depending on those needs and wants, they may attempt to interact with your brand through the voice channel, online forums, FAQs and live-chats, social networking websites, mobile technologies and more. Everyday customers are attempting to engage your brand through these various channels, sometimes using multiple channels within a single transaction.

For brands, it’s more important to focus on what the individual customer hopes to get out of a particular channel than the channel itself. The customer experience needs to be upheld regardless of the channel used, which means companies need to understand why their customers would turn to a specific channel. For instance, why would someone chose mobile over the voice channel? What would drive someone to visit the website and then reach out via social media? The customer has different needs and expectations depending on which channel they use and in order to preserve the customer experience companies need to understand these subtle differences and react accordingly.

For instance, a DIY customer service customer might visit an online FAQ first, hoping they can find the answer to their question quickly and move on with their day. If your website has the information they need than the particular customer experience lived up to its promise. But what if your FAQ doesn’t answer their question? Will they try your site’s live-chat feature? Phone into your contact center? Post a message on Facebook? Your brand has to remedy the fact that your first channel failed and save the customer experience in the second channel.

Research has shown that multichannel customers (those who are willing to engage with your brand in multiple channels) spend 20-30% MORE money than single channel customers. The multichannel customer also tends to buy more frequently, is more likely to be open to cross selling and upselling, and typically will be loyal customers for a longer period of time than single-channel customers. An IBM survey found that customers using 2 channels spend 114% more than single channel shoppers!

However, it is important to note that there is a large different between a customer that chooses to be multichannel customer and one that is forced to become one. When a customer is forced to jump from channel to channel because the customer experience keeps failing (the FAQ didn’t have the answer they needed, no one got back to their Facebook post, and they were on hold for 20 minutes in your contact center) chances are they will not be spending more with your company. In fact, customers that have a negative experience with your brand are more likely to turn to a competitor for their next purchase.

97% of customers expect their experiences to be consistent and seamless regardless of technology the use, which means your brand has to prepared in every channel. Becoming a multichannel business isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.