We Want It All: Consumers Demand Omnichannel Experience

Stop trying to figure out which channels you could use. Consumers want them all, according to Critical Channels of Choice, a study by The CMO Council, in partnership with Pitney Bowes.

Of those polled, 59% say it’s important for companies to be omnichannel, 28% feel it’s critical and 13% don’t care. In addition, 85% want a blend of physical and digital. 10% digital only and 5% physical only.

But consumers don’t seem thrilled with omnichannel performance — 65% say brands are doing pretty good at best, and 17% say nobody is getting right. But only 6% say firms are horrible at it, and 13% feel they’re exceptional.

But be warned: 84% find it frustrating when they have to start over in a new channel… every time they have a question. And 71% say this frustration has led them to question why they are doing business with the company. 

Mind you, we’re not talking about advertising here, but about bi-directional communications.



For this, the top five expected channels are email (86%), telephone (65%), website (53%), text (52%) and in-person (48/%).

So email rules. Yet only 13% say they can’t live without email, the same percentage as text. In contrast, 28% feel that way about the telephone and 17% find in-person indispensable.  

Drilling down, the generations seem strangely aligned in their channel choices.

The youngest group, Gen Z, puts email first, followed by texting and telephone. Millennials also expect email, telephone and text.

Moving up the age ladder, Gen Xers expect email communications, but are also happy to browse the web or call on the phone.

Baby boomers prefer the web, social and email, in that order. Then there’s the silent generation, the one group of people older than the boomers: They, too, put email first, followed by websites and the telephone.

Whatever their choices, consumers want their channels to be:

  • Convenient — 50%
  • Reliable — 45%
  • Fast — 41%
  • Personal — 38%
  • Trusted — 36%

And what brings “enjoyment” in these channels?

  • Access to a person who can help when I need it — 48%
  • Always on access to my account — 30%
  • Speed so I can get what I need and get on with my day — 28%
  • Hearing about new products — 27%
  • Having the right information to help me when I need it — 18%
  • Sales, savings, and sales…did I mention sales? — 15%

Meanwhile, 26% are happy to have brands collect data to provide more relevant experiences, but 40% want control, meaning that only some data is stored and they should decide how the data is used.

Another 21% don’t want companies to use their data even for personalization, and 14% fail to see why companies need this data.

Working with the Pollfish research panel, the CMO Council surveyed over 2,000 English-speaking consumers around the globe. 

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