How Many Hoops Did You Jump Through Today?

When people talk about creating an omnichannel, they often talk about eliminating silos. As well they should, since it’s a major benefit of the omnichannel. But I thought I’d talk today about eliminating something else—all the hoops those silos make you and your customers jump through.

And there are lots of hoops—even for a simple mission such as checking on order status. One hoop might be logging into the order system. If you find out the order is still in manufacturing, you might have to log in that system and reenter order information (another couple of hoops). Of course, you might not be authorized to enter the manufacturing system—your customers most certainly won’t be—so there a few extra hoops to go through while you connect with someone who can. If you find out the order is delayed because of, for instance, raw material shortage, other people—suppliers in this example—have to be brought in. More hoops. If the customer wants to change something—let’s say, delivery or installation schedule—those are yet other systems to log into.

Hoops upon hoops upon hoops.

Computers have hoops to jump through too. There are refresh cycles, and sync cycles and backup cycles and data management cycles and more. That means that the order put through the order management system may not become an order into the manufacturing system until the next refresh—for some companies that happens a few hours later. Once the manufacturing system receives the order it has to determine if raw materials are available: that too can take a few hours. If not, another set of hoops have to be navigated to fix the shortage. And all of this has to happen before you can give a customer a delivery date.

I could go on and make it even more complex and more roundabout, until it finally matches the everyday experience of enterprises around the world. But I hope I’ve made my point.

The omnichannel takes all those hoops and turns them into one, very simple hoop. One jump and you’re connected to everybody. Manufacturing, suppliers, carriers, customers, order management—all the right people are in the loop, all systems updated in real time, all the information is available to you or your customers. To finish the example I started, when you place an order, manufacturing knows instantly, it orders materials instantly, confirms availability and delivery instantly, and you can commit to the customer instantly. That’s five sometimes complicated sets of hoops eradicated from the face of your business.

When all systems, process and channels are integrated into an omnichannel, you and your customers are able to accomplish most goals from a single, integrated point. That may be an online window, or a kiosk or a mobile app or your retail outlets or . . . it doesn’t matter what that point of interaction is. And in a one-hoop world, an interaction started on one channel can be picked up from where it stopped on any another—all without forcing you or your customer to reenter any information.

Or jump through even one unnecessary hoop.