3 Keys To Leveraging Technology In Channel Marketing

By: Travis Dutka

First impressions

I was on a date with my wife and we were exploring the sushi options in The Big City (Toronto). We got to one restaurant and were immediately impressed with the great atmosphere and interior design of the restaurant. It got even better when we were handed an iPad from the hostess and when we were seated: the waiter set up the iPad on a table mount and proceeded to give us a tour of how we can use the iPad to navigate the menu, see photos of all the food and even submit our order! 

I must admit, by this point I was a little giddy because I LOVE to see technology used to take the customer experience to a whole other level. Up to this point, all the elements were in place for this meal to exceed my expectations as a customer. We even upsold ourselves from the à la carte menu to the all-you-can-eat menu; not because we were that hungry, but because we could do it all from the iPad.

Second chance?

After what seemed like an hour of happily playing with our digital menu and talking about how amazing everything about this place was, we submitted our first order. That is when everything started to change; it all started to go down hill; you know the typical restaurant stuff, but not what I was expecting based on my initial experience.

  • We rarely saw our waiter, and got more service from the girl filling up our water glasses. 
  • Three different employees couldn’t tell us if our one order had fish roe in it… even though it was listed (and pictured) on the menu which we read through with them. 
  • Lack of product knowledge – the person bringing our food couldn’t tell us which was which and our waiter didn’t know what was in the pretty common sushi rolls.
  • The wrong order came to our table and 3 different people said they would make it right… the water girl saved the day again!
  • The only time our waiter actually really tended to our table, other than when seating us, was when he was showing me how to enter the tip amount….  

I’ll stop my rant there. I’m not a food diva, but I wanted to give you a snapshot of what could have easily been my best-ever singular sushi experience and one that I would be talking about for the next year with EVERYONE. 

If you want to create a short term, one-transaction relationship with your channel partners, make sure you wow them with the first interaction and then disappoint them every time after that! (Okay, NOW I’ll stop my rant…)

Here’s what we can learn from this:

3 Keys

  1. Channel PartnersEnsure Pleasant Human Interaction – You can’t avoid it; at some point there will be human interaction with your channel partners or consumers regardless of how automated the process is. Your channels will have questions, complaints and suggestions; when they interact with your brand and those who represent it, it must be with knowledgable, positive and action-oriented problem solving humans, otherwise, your innovative tech will be overshadowed by negative human experience.
  2. Increase the Speed of Delivery  – So you have new technology: great! The speed at which you execute your deliverables to your channel partners is now expected to be faster (or at least stay the same) as a result. Your new technology may have increased automation, security and simplicity but your channel partners are still concerned with the speed of the process (Spiff/Rebate Payments) or deliverables (Program implementation). Make sure you don’t make your new technology the excuse or distraction for slow process or missed deadlines.
  3. Create Reasons to Engage  – Actively engage your channel partners outside of the times that you want something from them. Not only is this a good exercise for your company that will likely lead to valuable insights from front line people throughout your sales channel, but it facilitates long term relationships between your brand and your partners, which is essential to successful channel marketing. The last thing people will be thinking about is your technology when you only show up to push your agenda. Don’t be like my waiter who only showed up to show me how to use the tip function on the credit card machine.

You may have the latest groundbreaking technology, but if your channel partners experience is subpar in these and other areas, the technology is worthless. Make your technology valuable by exceeding your partners’ expectations in every part of their experience with your brand.

Travis Dutka 360 IncentivesTravis Dutka is a communicator at 360Incentives.com who likes iced espresso.  Connect with Travis on LinkedIn here.