What you can learn about omnichannel marketing from Ferris Bueller

Deloitte Digital uses successful 1980s film to investigate what the key pillars are to successful omnichannel experiences

Achieving omnichannel excellence isn’t just about automation or channel integration, it requires an equal emphasis on humanised services and surprise and delight in order to win over customers.

In a more novel presentation at ADMA Techmix on how organisations need to think about omnichannel, Deloitte Digital’s Brett Hopper referenced the successful 1980s film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, written and directed by John Hughes, as a way of illustrating his three key pillars for omnichannel success:

Make it about people, not channels

It’s not the events that drive the film, but the individual characters going through those events that make it compelling, Hopper said.

“The story is not really about faking illness and taking the day off, it’s about Cameron overcoming his demons,” he said. “Ferris is not just taking a leisure day, he’s helping his friend out to win some self-respect.”

In the same way, omnichannel needs to focus on the customer’s individual experiences, not just the channels they’re interacting through. And to do that, brands don’t just need technology, they need their whole employee base to focus on the customer first.

“Organisational thinking has been around making channels better – making them more connected, automated and efficient,” Hopper said. “But if we follow that thinking too far, we’ll end up with entirely robotic solutions in place of more humanised customer service and that’s not always going to work. We run the risk of de-humanising the services we have in the name of automating more touchpoints.”

What’s key is bring the people element back into those services experience, Hopper said. “We need to strategically consider which of those touchpoints and channels are being automated and serviced by machines, and which we choose to have face-to-face, human interactions.”

That’s not just digital tools to frontline staff, Hopper continued, it’s also how to train them in deep social skills to navigate databases they interact with.

Show that you understand them

Hopper also noted the use of direct dialogue by Ferris to camera helps build a link and rapport that encourages the viewer to go on the journey with him. Similarly, omnichannel strategy is about building a customer-first relationship that taps deep insights that ultimately anticipates their needs and wants.

“Consistent branding and messaging, common user interface elements, clean handoffs between apps and channels are all definitely important, but as that becomes more common and completely expected, we need to move just beyond providing consistent experiences,” Hopper said, adding that most omnichannel interactions today are still largely impersonal.

“We need to move more towards what a personalised experience looks like across these channels,” he said. “What are those customer wants and needs at that point in time? But also, how do we anticipate those, looking at data and analytics, and leverage that to understand what they might need next. Move beyond consistency towards personalised recognition and moment where people just feel like you get them as an organisation.”

Create moments of delight

Hopper’s third key pillar for omnichannel success is moving beyond channel integration, and creating moments that surprise and delight the customer.

“It is powerful when Ferris turns to us the first time and talks to us; it comes as surprise, and creates a moment of delight,” he said.

“At the moment, omnichannel strategy is about trying to link up all our channels together, and providing consistent customer experience. But that’s just a description of what it’s doing. Omnichannel experience has to be more than just linking those things up. What does your brand mean to that customer?”

With so many channels and interconnection points now available to marketers, Hopper argued there are more and more opportunities for brands to create those moments of delight before, during and after the main event.

“You can use moments to build anticipation, set preferences for later, cross-sell, increase likelihood of conversion – the point is there are so many opps to do something different,” he said. “It’s not just about linking channels anymore, it’s how you think about what customers are doing, what their needs are and how they respond.”

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