You only have to watch a few TV adverts to realise just how much the retail sector has changed over the past few years. If we see a sofa advertised, for example, we know that we can go and view the various colours online, AND go and feel the comfort levels for ourselves in a retail shop. It’s that AND that is the key.

“Customers are now demanding the same offering and experience across all channels and a siloed approach to retailing just doesn’t cut it anymore.”

That’s the view of Oliver Jaeger, writing on channel convergence in his retail marketing blog. He is a great advocate of this integrated approach that delivers a fully integrated customers experience regardless of its starting point. As he points out, it also has an impact on the efficiency and accuracy of internal process of marketing, logistics and sales.

The same principle applies to your business communications. Employees should have a consistent experience regardless of their starting point. So many businesses have built their communications systems up over time, forcing employees to access the information they need via a myriad of channels and sources, from email to intranets.

Channel convergence in corporate communications is a much more efficient and effective way to ensure everyone has access to the information they need, when they need it. Instead of separate news distribution, recognition and innovation channels, these can be brought into one easy to access channel that also allows employees to act – and react.

For example, if an employee is reading a news item and it triggers an idea, they can post it there and then, from within the same system. If they read that an employee has been recognised for good work, they can add their own congratulations. If in turn another employee has posted a request for information, they can respond and establish a peer to peer connection. All from within the same system.

What’s more, employees will start to expect this level of connectivity and interactivity, based on their own life experiences. If you want to see multichannel convergence in action, you only have to become a member of a local community group on Facebook. Someone will post a simple request like “Anyone know a good plumber with experience in old lead water pipes?” Within minutes, (and it is minutes, regardless of the time of day), someone will post back a name suggestion, a contact number, or the link to a website. Another may post a link to a newspaper article on the health issues of lead pipes, or a “how to tell if your pipes are made of lead” video from YouTube or similar. From our experience, the original poster will have several names to choose from, and often will have contacted one of them within the hour.

It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s all happened within the one app. The original poster trusts the recommendations of the participants sufficiently to react and act upon them, and the easy access to the information they require speeds the process. There is no need to venture far beyond the app’s ‘walls’, as everything can be accessed whether they are using a desktop or mobile device. That level of easy connectivity inevitably builds their expectations of what to expect from communication apps, and if yours doesn’t deliver, they know an app that can…

It is therefore vital that your communication channels offer the same easy connectivity. If an employee can’t find the details of a protocol, for example, they need to know that within their communication channel they can either find it, download it or at least ask someone who knows what it is. By bringing multiple channels into one place, and using an interface that links them all together in an intuitive and engaging way, channel convergence becomes both time efficient and cost effective too.

In his blog, Jaeger says:

“The convergence of all retail channels into an omnichannel approach is clearly the way forward if retailers want to stay relevant.”

If you want your business to remain relevant to your employees, channel convergence is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a comms strategy necessity. Call us with your requirements.